Friday, March 24, 2006

Disappearing from the shelves...

We're getting used to the vagaries of Cyprus supermarkets. Well, we should be after eight-and-a-half years! Seasonal fruit and vegetables make sense. We miss oranges in the summer, and grapes in the winter, but realise it's better for us - and the environment in general - to have fresh locally grown produce (on the whole) rather than fruit that's forced and then shipped across the world.

We cope, too, with things occasionally vanishing from the shelves entirely. It's happened once or twice with vanilla essence (extract). The disgusting artificial vanilla flavouring is there, but no essence. So we do without. No big deal. Last time I was in the UK we bought a large bottle from Lakeland, and that should last us a couple of years, at least. Peppermint essence hasn't been available for a couple of years now, but again - it's not a huge problem. We only want it about twice a year, anyway, for making peppermint creams or choc-mint ice cream.

It's more of a problem when water filters vanish, but they soon reappear. Last time we wanted to change the one in the kitchen, we had to wait a couple of extra weeks. The mains water tasted a bit chemically, but we could always buy bottled water.

A bigger problem still is that Biokill - our insecticide of choice - has been gone for about six months now. It's environmentally friendly, and (most important) safe for all warm-blooded animals. Such as cats - and of course people! So I usually spray the insides of our kitchen cabinets with Biokill, to keep away ants in the summer, and all entry points to the house to deter cockroaches. But Biokill has not been seen since last summer... and I'm not sure what we'll do once insects start appearing again.

However none of these compare to the huge problem we found this morning: there was no Marmite in Metro! They reorganised the shop a while ago so we thought perhaps it had been moved, but no - it was gone. We couldn't even find the place where it should have been.

Perhaps only other Brits can appreciate the enormity of this. How can we manage without Marmite? I eat it with peanut butter, with cheese, with cream cheese and coleslaw. It's a great source of B-vitamins, and it's delicious! Of course a medium (250g) jar will last us a couple of weeks now that Dan's not at home any more, and we still have about half a jar left so it's not quite an emergency yet. We just hope this is only temporary and that it will be back soon. We know from experience that there's little point searching in the other supermarkets: if something's gone from Metro, it's almost certainly gone from Orphanides and Chris too.

When we lived in the USA we survived by asking all guests to bring out Marmite - in the large, 500g jars, which aren't available here - and when we ran out, we managed to find a small and expensive 'British foods' shop which, joy of joys, sold Marmite. But we don't have any guests coming for awhile, and as it comes in glass jars it's not something that can be posted.

Perhaps life in Cyprus isn't as easy as it sometimes seems...


Anonymous said...

Are you anywhere near Armou, Paphos? We are coming out on the 7th April.

Kes from Cornwall, Uk. (Anonymous up until now!)

Anvilcloud said...

Personally, I count the absence of Marmite as bing a very fine thing. But I'm not British and don't prefer cold toast either.

jj said...

Oh cripes! No marmite! Trust me, I appreciate this. Make that half a jar last as long as possible. You could get it posted over wrapped in about a million layers of bubble wrap, if you were that desperate.
Geez, Cyprus sounds a funny place. When I visit one day I shall come bearing marmite. :)

Sue said...

Kes - no, we're in Larnaka. Hope you enjoy Cyprus! Paphos is lovely.

AC: I don't like cold toast either. Marmite is great on hot toast, though!

JJ: Yes, it'll be a real problem if it lasts. We just hope it's a temporary thing, and will eke out that half jar as long as we can. Richard's going to be abroad next week so will look out for Marmite in other countries! There isn't even Vegemite here (I know it's not the same, but better than nothing)

Lora said...

I gather only a Brit can truely appreciate the joys of Marmite, but if I mentally replace it with not being ablr to find Peanut Butter and can suddenly become very empathetic. Good Luck in your search and be sure to ask for it. The grocer may not realize it's importance.

Steve Hayes said...

Marmite is an essential ingredient for Orthodox Lent! How can they not have it in Cyprus. Insist to the shopkeepers that it is nistisimou and they must restock immediately.