Chickpea curry and other aspects of eating on a road trip

Seven weeks into our trip and we finally had chickpea curry for the first time last night…. Those of you who are familiar with our normal van cooking repertoire may find this rather surprising! CPC is our standard emergency fall back dinner, when we’ve run out of everything else, or have unexpected guests. At it’s most basic it comprises a can of chickpeas and a can of tomatoes, with a few spices and some chilli and pepper. With a bit more planning / luck there is some onion and peppers in there too (see below ). In any event, it’s delicious and nutritious 🙂

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Food shopping in Spain can be a bit hit and miss. Big towns have monster supermarkets to rival the Hattersley Tesco (and better stocked!), but the small mountain villages where the climbing tends to be are a different matter. Food shops are generally very well disguised, and often tucked away in labyrinthine narrow streets. Once you find one it’s probably closed, with siesta hours from 2pm until 5pm or later. Once inside there’s no shortage of stuff – a tiny space no bigger than your front room will stock everything from farm implements to electrical goods, but I guess there’s not much turnover – anyway the fresh fruit and veg can be a bit limited. Even hunting fresh bread each day can be a challenge (panaderia or forn del pan are even better camouflaged! ) so an emergency stash of crispbread can be handy.

Eating out can be an attractive option, with the occasional treat representing a chance for a change of menu and a change of scene from chez van. However, this is also a fraught process so far out of season and away from the flesh pots of the costas. Spanish traditional evening meal time is anything from 8.30pm onwards, and they think nothing of tucking in at 10pm. Finding somewhere open and serving before bed time can be a challenge for us sleepy heads. However, all the foregoing is balanced by the great value that you do get when you finally strike lucky – we’ve regularly eaten a 3 course meal for about a tenner, including a bottle of wine between us. The other option to get around the late serving time is to have tapas instead – often available all day and quite a fun way to while away an evening with a few beers.

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