Sunday, 3 March 2019

Mushroom coffee and other such nonsense!

In the supermarket next door to our flats, in the fridge where they keep the non-sterilised milk, there is a range of iced coffee available. I haven’t yet checked out the flavours. They may only have black and white coffee. However, since these coffees come in the large-ish mug-sized reinforced paper cups available in similar supermarket sales in the UK, I would not be surprised to find that they have the caramel latte, hazelnut latte, coconut latte and the other kinds of non-coffee flavours sold as “coffee” back home.

I am always surprised to find a country which has a good coffee culture giving in to Starbucks-style coffee drinking. I have not been to France in recent years. I wonder if they have succumbed yet. We are off to Sicily briefly in May so I will observe the situation over there. My Italian friend always holds her hands up in horror at the idea of coffee served in half-pint cups - or bigger if you go for large - and coffee made with almond milk or some other strange nut-based white stuff. As far as she is concerned, coffee should still be sold black and strong in tiny cups, consumed standing at the counter and costing less than €2.

 Incidentally, the nearest cafe to our flats, a place we used to frequent for its free wifi, sells a small café con leche for €1. They no longer have a wifi connection, as I discovered the other day. It was costing them too much and not generating enough extra custom. Clearly, our use of their wifi and our consumption of the odd coffee or mineral water did not provide sufficient extra income. I can’t help thinking that maybe she could put the price of coffee up, just a little, maybe to €1.50, and thus make a little more money!

Also incidentally, walking up the hill towards the San Joan do Monte district the other day, we passed a small cafe with a notice outside in Spanish and English: “Café para llevar” - “Take away coffee”. Now, this back road is in a bit of an out of the way spot. Just how many casual non-Spanish-speaking passers-by do they have? Does it really merit a notice in English? Or is this just another example of jumping onto a trendy bandwagon? Bad enough that there is sports bar - whatever one of those is - on Calle Aragón, weirdly named “Overtake”. And a car repair shop called “Bestdrive”!

Apparently the latest thing to do with your coffee, in the UK at least, is to add mushrooms of various kinds. Quite why anyone would choose to do this is beyond me. Those in favour talk about the “antibacterial, antiviral and immune-enhancing properties” but I remain unconvinced. I think I’ll just stick to my fizzy vitamin and mineral drinks at breakfast, and occasional cold showers and swims in cold pools to boost my immune system. 

It’s not just coffee either. It seems you can get mushroom-enhanced energy bars and chocolate. There are even dried mushrooms sold as an alternative to crisps. But with mushroom chocolate selling at £6 to £8 for a 100g bar and a bag of mushroom crisps costing £3, I am prepared to give them a miss. I’ll continue to have my mushrooms fried with a bit of garlic and some nice serrano or Parma ham, thank you very much!

On the subject of food, I read that there has been a rise in the popularity of pasta, especially among younger generations. One reason is supposedly pasta’s photogenic qualities. People like posting photos of their pasta dishes on Instagram, another app I have not acquired. “People love my pictures of pasta,” says the food writer Rosie Birkett, who has 75,000 followers on Instagram. “There’s a familiarity to pasta – people have childhood memories or holiday associations that make it nostalgic. Being able to taste something in our mind’s eye is at play here.” Well, that supposes that you had childhood holidays in Italy or some pasta-consuming place!

Another possibility is that it’s a reaction against “clean eating”. Which is yet another piece of trendy modern nonsense!

I am obviously in touch today with my grumpy older person who objects to the world becoming the same all over!

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