Saturday, November 17, 2012

Buying frozen peas in Cyprus

In general, I buy fresh fruit and vegetables at our local fruitaria. I walk there about three times per week, and we also buy crates of fruit/veg at the fruit stall opposite at weekends, for freezing and/or dehydrating

But although local fresh fruit in season is excellent, there are a few things that are - in my view - not worth buying that way. One of them is sweetcorn, which I'm afraid to say I still buy in cans. Frozen sweetcorn just doesn't have the sweet, crunchy flavour that I like so much. And it's not as if we have it very often. We've tried buying corn on the cob in season, but have never found any that we actually like in Cyprus. I don't know why.

The other things which we've tried fresh, but which are costly, time-consuming AND disappointing are broad beans, and peas. I can happily live without broad beans, although I don't mind them occasionally, but Richard loves them. And we're both fond of frozen peas, which are very useful as a quick, second or third vegetable as part of a cooked meal when we've run out of hob space, or time, or both. 

At least, in the UK we were fond of frozen peas. Pretty much any brand could be quickly heated in a pyrex bowl in the microwave, or brought to JUST simmering in a small amount of water, or very lightly steamed until just done. 

We tended to eat them two or three times every week, so when we came to Cyprus, we just picked up the least expensive brand at Metro.

BIG mistake. They were tasteless, almost mushy. Ugh. 

We tried another brand.  

No better.  

Then one day Birds Eye frozen peas were on special offer, two bags for the price of one. That price was still a whole lot more than any of the other brands, but we knew we liked Birds Eye, so we bought some as a special treat. 

And they were very good. We eked them out for as long as we could... and then made the decision that we would only buy Birds Eye peas from then on. Even though they were not cheap, it was pointless buying peas that we disliked, and which we would end up throwing out. 

So, for many years, we have continued buying this brand of peas, not even considering any other, and I had taken for granted that, no matter how much we could economise on other products, it simply wasn't worth it for frozen peas.

Then this week, the ladies who were staying in our guest flat said they had a few bits and pieces from the fridge and freezer, which they were defrosting and leaving open (as no more guests are coming for a few weeks) so they wondered if we'd like to have them, rather than throwing things away. 

One of the items was this brand of frozen peas:


- about a quarter of a bag. I thanked them and shoved it in the freezer, thinking that we probably wouldn't use them and then, in another year or so, they'll be so frosted up that I'll just throw them away.

Except that on Thursday, Richard did the last part of our evening meal. I'd cut up some potato wedges and put them to cook, along with baked tomatoes and stir-fried mushrooms; he said he'd make our cheese omelettes, and microwave some frozen peas. Unbeknown to me, he picked out the bag we'd been given.  I only realised when I saw the empty packet on the work surface. I sighed, and hoped they wouldn't be TOO awful.

To my delighted surprise, they were very good.  Perhaps not quite as crisp and sweet as Birds Eye, but very acceptable. 

I'm not a huge fan of Orphanides, and won't go to the big supermarket. But we have a local Orphanides Express, staffed by very friendly people, and it's extremely convenient if I just want to pop out for something that I can't get at smaller shops. 

So I took a look today. These peas cost €2.49 for 1kg.  The last Birds Eye peas I bought were €5.23 for 900g.  At less than half the cost, I think these will be our choice for the foreseeable future.