Bananas and grapefruit , Chellah

Beginning to wonder how much a of a link there might be between the contents of supermarket shelves and the local psyche… for example in the UK several aisles are given over to ready meals – are the locals that impatient for food? Here in Morocco what has bemused us are the shelves of boxes of processed cheese, you know those little cheese triangles we loved as kids but as adults find slimy, oozy and slightly repulsive not to mention rather tasteless, give me a good oozy Camebert anytime!

In Dubai the supermarket shelves reflected the fact that the population originates from all over the world – not just fruit and veg flown in but biscuits, coffee and mayonnaise, shampoo and showergel and virtually everything in between. Whilst our local Al  Jezeera in Bahrain had a definite North American slant, not surprising  since there is a huge US Navy base nearby.

There are three supermarket near the marina;  Carrefour with its generous sprinkling of supplies from France is a taxi ride away, Marjane a home grown version, is at the end of the tram line, then there is Ascima, a much smaller store located a short walk away underneath Salé railway station with much the same sorts of things on the shelves minus the clothing, plastic wares etc. All three offer rather tired vegetables, much better to use the market or stalls in the local medina. Fortunately they all do have a small butchery counter which we prefer to the fly ridden market stalls in the medina.

There are few ready meals on offer (not that I’d buy them) unless you want tins of tuna and bean salad or a pizza and a very tiny frozen food section with mostly veg and ice cream. But there is always an aisle of flour – never knew so many types existed – patissserie, bread, fine, coarse and more. Large sacks to smaller more familiar bags. This array somehow explains all the bread making activity we see going on in the medina; round discus’ (or should that be discii?) of bread are for sale everywhere and crepes can be bought hot off the griddle.

Not only does the boxed cheese proliferate but so also processed meat in plastic sausages – shelves and shelves of the stuff and even the deli counter is not immune- that is virtually all they have on offer. It is referred to as “mortadella” but bears no relation to the original processed pork sausage from Bologna, the product on offer is halal and therefore chicken, turkey or beef based.

We often buy some cooked meat to have with a salad for lunch or in sandwiches so when in one store they were offering tastings of some new brand the skipper decided to try it. He was warned by his first mate not to but he gave it a go anyway and was not impressed. Worse than luncheon meat was the verdict! Definitely not a food to be added to the transatlantic provisioning list no matter how good its shelf life might be.

Presumably all this processed boxed/wrapped stuff means there is a lack of refrigeration in many local homes as it surely can’t be a reflection on the tastes of the locals whose tanjines, grilled fish and couscous dishes are brimming with flavour and texture or can it?