I'm not much of a cook though I can usually produce something that is, at least, edible. That's not always the case; new recipes tend to turn out badly and, recently, I have had a series of culinary disasters. I did some beef, tomato and olive thing that tasted of salt and nothing else. There was another concoction that I ended up tipping directly into the bin, something with lots of cream and garlic. I'm safer when I cook up the lentils or one of the student favourites (well favourite with the one time students who are now beginning to draw their pensions or die) like spag bol and chilli con carne. Nonetheless my version of kebabs with chorizo is OK and that spaghetti with yoghurt and mushrooms and bacon isn't bad either. My shepherd's pie's perfectly tasty and there are plenty more in my repertoire that, whilst they may not exactly thrill the palette, do, at least, maintain the calorie input without hardship.
The stuff that goes into my meals comes from the shops in the form of veg and pulses and meat and cheese and eggs and stuff like that. The food may come in packets and boxes. It may have been grown under hectares of plastic, sprayed with hideous chemicals, never have felt the soil on its roots or the sun on its seed-pod but it still looks like a carrot, a lettuce or a chickpea. If it's an animal product then I wouldn't like to speculate as to whether the beast spent it's life confined in a tiny feeding station eating high protein feed made from fracked oil or recycled fish. Nonetheless, basically, whatever the food and however it got produced, it would still be recognisable as food to my forebears. The raw material of a meal rather than the finished product.
There have been prepared foods in Spanish supermarket freezers as long as I have lived here and somebody must buy them because they are still on sale. In fact I've noticed that much of the extra space in the newer larger store of a local supermarket has been taken up by new lines of pre-prepared stuff. I still don't see a lot of people buying it though. Usually the stuff on the supermarket belt in front of mine looks much like my stuff except that they have always remembered something that I've forgotten. I think it would be fair to say that most of the Spaniards around here do not buy things that come ready prepared. It's a sweeping generalisation and there are plenty of exceptions from pizzas to ready shaped meatballs. It may well be different in the bigger cities too but I think that most people in most homes still cook their food from scratch rather than heat up something they have bought.
Now I saw an advert on Spanish TV today for C&A. It's the first ad that I've noticed with a Christmas theme. This reminded me that we'll be due our annual trip to the coast to the Overseas Supermarket/Iceland store. It's not that I often wake up thinking of Piccalilli and Bombay mix or Melton Mowbray pies and Quality Street but, confronted with shelves full of products that were staples with me for forty years, there is always lot of gratuitous overspending. We usually go to buy something specific that's either expensive or unavailable locally - gammon, pork and mustard sausages, twiglets - but we nearly always end up buying lots of things that sound great but turn out to be soggy, tasteless or otherwise disappointing. This year I really must remember to say no to the pre-prepared stuff however good the photo on the box looks.
By the way I apologise if I've done this blog before. Checking the blog is a bit like watching the photos, my own photos, that pop up randomly on my laptop as a screen saver. I sometimes find myself watching the slide-show of half remembered photos and thinking that some of them aren't so bad. Then one of the many blurred pictures pops up and my hubris evaporates. When I thought of blogging on pre-prepared versus fresh food I popped some search clues into the blog and I found myself re-reading long forgotten blog posts, sometimes from years ago. I thought they were OK until I bumped into two in a row which were the literary equivalent of those blurred snaps. I gave up, ashamed of my prose and the out of date information. Mind you if I've forgotten the chances are that you have too.