SOURCING BRITISH FOOD AND DRINK IN PORTUGAL
My mindset is that I am living in Portugal so I will embrace the culture including food and drink and try to buy locally sourced items where possible. We visit a local Lidl monthly for staples then visit our nearby village bakery, butchers and greengrocers for fresh weekly supplies. We also buy from delivery vans who drive through our village daily. This is all fantastic but for every Brit there will be something that they miss from their hometown. For some people I talk to it’s cheese as they feel it’s not the same taste, others say they can’t live without marmite for their toast or gravy for their roast dinners and others hanker over baked beans for their full English breakfast so pay a ridiculous price to obtain these items in the British aisle of a supermarket here. I recently had a conversation with hubby and I explained the foods that are hard to obtain here like pork pies, scotch eggs and monster munch crisps. He looked me directly in the eye and said “I would kill for a bag of monster munch pickled onion crisps right now”. What can I say, we have all this amazing food here in Portugal and hubby wants to embrace a packet of pickled onion monster munch! I’m not surprised as this is a man who puts mayonnaise on everything including roast dinners. For me personally the main thing I am struggling to locate is a sugar free squash/cordial and Options hot chocolate orange or the original chocolate flavour. My mum was diabetic and raised us on sugar free options so I like the taste of the sugar free drinks which are hard to find here. We drink a lot of water and way too much coke zero but sometimes you just crave a fruity drink half way through a hot sweaty renovation project. I could make my own lemonade but it would contain so much sugar.
It has taken me 5 months to discover that squash/cordial is not a thing here. Soft drinks come in cartons like juice and the ones you find in bottles are usually iced tea or they already have the water added. Portugal sells a packet version (a small sachet) of powder which you mix with water to make up a litre of the soft drink but I have yet to find one that is sugar free. They also sell bottles of squash but it is more like a sticky syrup and it is so sweet and costs a lot (around €4 per bottle). It also does not last like a bottle of squash back home as you need to add 1 part squash to 4 parts water. I even asked my Facebook friends and a lot suggested fresh juice or adding various fruits, spices and herbs to water. I’m not against trying this but it’s not going to taste like a glass of squash. We have an orange tree but too much fresh OJ plays havoc with my IBS. I don’t mind trying the adding weird and wonderful things to the water option that was suggested to me e.g. fresh fruit, honey, cinnamon, lemon, ginger, rosemary etc. but I really dislike green tea (it tastes like feet to me!).
You can buy most products here and it’s easy to source tea bags, baked beans, corn flakes, milk etc. Most supermarkets have a British aisle with inflated prices and I don’t mind buying a bottle of Robinsons orange squash for €4 if I could find a sugar free version but I can’t. There are various websites where you can buy British foods and have them delivered but delivery is a bit expensive, I only want a couple of items so I don’t want to rely on buying through these companies. The British aisles do make me laugh. They have some weird stuff that I wouldn’t want e.g. Fray Bentos tinned pie. It’s strange as whilst I’m sat in my garden enjoying the sunshine and views, not once have I craved a Fray Bentos pie (ha ha). You can buy baked beans here. The Heinz brand is very expensive but you can buy cheaper brands for around €1.
Here are some websites where you can buy British food and they will deliver to Portugal. There may be more but these are the ones I know of:
Update: I placed an order from British Corner Shop on 2nd December 2020 and never received the package. I was pretty pissed off and they don’t seem to care. I would NOT order from this company ever again. Apparently I have to wait 1 month before I can request a refund. No British treats for me this Christmas!
I am very jealous of people living in the Algarve as they have an Iceland and Waitrose!!!!! Next time I am in the UK I will stock up on Squah’d sugar free which are those handy small bag sized squash drinks that you drop into water – maybe I can bring a suitcase full (ha ha). Imagine the situation at customs. It will be like when I took Canderel sweetener to Las Vegas. Security opened the tub and half disappeared. That’s my fault for taking across foods that look like cocaine!
I have also found it difficult to source Quorn mince (or a similar alternative) for chilli con carne. We have been asking the butcher to mince up the beef on their machine (they do look at us as if we are weirdos) and Lidl also sell minced beef in packets here but in the UK we used quorn mince as we ate 1 vegetarian meal per week and it was less fat so healthier. The vegetarian mince in the frozen section in Continente is very expensive and some of the vegetarian mince contains gluten too. I asked my Facebook Portugal friends and soya was recommended so we managed to buy packets in Continente at a very cheap price just over €1 per bag 500g. I think you need to soak it or cook it in the chilli juices but I am intrigued to see if it works and what it tastes like. Someone who lives in Central Portugal takes a cool box with them when visiting the Algarve and stocks up on Quorn mince then rations it (ha ha). Not for me, I need to be able to buy local and am happy to try alternatives and adapt. I could not find the British aisle in Continente Forum shopping mall, Coimbra but I did find a Brazilian aisle!
Now onto the Options hot choc drink – I cannot find this anywhere! You may be thinking with all the hot weather why would she want a hot chocolate drink. We do get a lot hot weather but we also have our fair share of cold winter nights and I miss an Options in front of the log fire. You will never guess what they use here! NESQUIK, I know I haven’t bought that since Josh (my favourite son) was about 8 years old, bloody Nesquik. I was going to ask Teanna (my favourite daughter) to post me a few from UK but I have realised that it now costs £10 to post a small parcel from UK to Portugal (up to 2kg) but only around €7 from Portugal to UK, so I won’t bother as I’m not that desperate for a hot choc drink, it’s just that when I get serious and start my diet properly, it’s a great 40 calorie drink that replaces the urge for chocolate and I just love the chocolate orange flavour one.
I have just sourced a shop about a 30 min drive away which sells sugar free Robinsons squash. I think it’s around €3.99 but worth every cent! Amazon UK seems to be the best deal for Options hot choc. 100 individual sachets for £26.49 and £9.50 delivery which equals 35p per sachet. This is not bad as they are often X3 for £1 in the UK supermarkets so I placed the order and am eagerly awaiting delivery. It’s not the orange flavour just the Belgium choc flavour but still nice.
So that’s it for now. Who would have thought that I would miss squash, quorn mince and Options hot choc. Well that’s me, a basic girl at heart (ha ha). Enjoy your full English and your Yorkshire pud, I’m off for a pastel de nata. Oh and if you ever visit me here at Casa Valhal you are not allowed across the threshold unless you have a tub of Options hot choc or two (orange flavour) and a sugar free Robinsons squash’d and throw in a family size bar of Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate (solely for the protein content in the nuts of course) and we could become best friends for life!
Quick update – the soya chilli con carne:
It was very successful indeed. Apologies, I started eating it then realised I wanted to take a photo for my blog (ha ha). It tastes just like quorn and very cheap as 100g made enough for 4 portions. High in protein too and the beans (pulses) also have protein in so a very filling meal. A total result. As you can see I top it with cheese so not vegan unless you use vegan cheese. My point was not to eat a vegan meal but reduce my meat intake and saturated fat. I do need to abolish the cheese though as not healthy. Just had a little laugh as spell check wants to change quorn to quran!
Look what arrived, I can’t contain my excitement!!!!! 100 Option Belgium choc drink sachets. My life is complete.
Look what I managed to buy at Hiper Feirã in Mortágua: Sugar free Robinsons squash and it only cost €2.59 and €2.95. I am a happy bunny! I slightly embarrassed myself whilst taking photos of the British aisle. A Portuguese man was trying to walk past whilst I was taking photos of the produce and I looked a bit of an idiot. Then I got some weird looks in the car park posing with bottles of squash. The things I do to get a photo for my blog (ha ha).
27th June 2020 update
Look what I found in Intermarche, Arganil today: