If there’s one thing this years lent challenge has taught me it’s that some things are really difficult to buy when you can’t use supermarkets. Prime example? Teabags. There are a couple of local delicatessens that sell the nice teapigs teabags – but I would see them as being more of a treat than something that can be drunk on a regular basis (in case you were wondering, I drink a lot of tea). I’ve resorted to buying a batch from the internet where there are a number of different websites selling Clipper tea and such. You can even buy it on Amazon!
The other particularly tricky item is cooking oil. Again, there are numerous specialists around selling premium extra virgin olive oil, even extra virgin organic rapeseed oil (where did that come from?!), but if you’re looking for a good all round vegetable oil or olive oil, its really difficult to come by. I am though reliably informed there is a good shop in Cheltenham that can provide, but at this point in time I don’t drive and I’m not going to get the train over to Cheltenham for a bottle of oil!
Perhaps the most annoying is pasta. Unless you have a good Italian deli or similar neat by, reasonably priced, good quality dried pasta is really difficult to come by. I recently went to Cornwall for the weekend and came across a Rick Stein deli. Brilliant!...I thought. Rick will provide. But alas…he didn’t. Pasta was available…but at £5.20 for 500g…? No thanks. I decided the best thing to do was to get hold of some ‘tipo’ 00 flour and make my own. And I must say…it’s really good. It takes more time to make, and it more effort – but the end product is kind of worth it. A pasta machine isn’t essential but makes things so much easier. In fact, it’s inspired me to make my own ravioli next week. But I would say it’s been really rather annoying as there are times, particularly at the end of a working day, when quick and easy is required…and when it comes to pasta…FAIL!