Hello, I am here to tell you a funny story about a guy who went grocery shopping in a foreign country. Knowing he only spoke English and French, it probably would have been a pretty smart idea for him to have prepped for such a trip to a Spanish-speaking country! He ventures off into a local shopping establishment similar to a 7-Eleven store back in America. He hoped to find the usual common household items like milk, eggs, and something as simple as bread. He wanted to avoid eating McDonald’s his entire stay in Madrid. Poor guy searched everywhere using his context clues to decipher what was what. Trying his very best to explain what he needed to the Spanish-speaking employees but nothing budged. As he walked toward the front of the establishment with his head held low he bumps into another American. At the same time they both said, “Oh sorry!” I asked him “was everything okay?” and he responded, “I’m just really hungry and I don’t understand Spanish!”
Luckily for this confused shopper I myself was in a similar predicament just a few days ago! Boy, does time fly. Long story short– that hungry, lost and confused guy was just like me a few days ago. To make it easier on yourself it’s important to at least know the basics of the different foods they offer in the country you are visting. The main reason being, you don’t want to be considered “one of those tourists!” says Maria Gonzales, 27, who works in one of the “Simply Market” food stores in the Salamanca neighborhood — where I first went to grab some items on my first day here. Maria was born and raised in Madrid and has figured out a few things about tourists. “We get many, many clueless tourists who ask for simple items,” Maria says. I know first hand because I was one of those many individual tourists who bothered her for something simple!
Yet enjoying Madrid on a food budget can actually be more fun than it sounds because Madrid is literally a holly grail of various savory foods. Choosing to go grab a few groceries will save you a couple of euros throughout your daily trips. Instead of buying breakfast, maybe try fixing yourself up a cozy egg sandwich or for lunch something a little heavier like “jamón ibérico de bellota,” which is from the high-end part of the cured ham family. Put a slice on piece of bread with some really good cheese. Jamón ibérico can be bought in a pack of 5 slices for about 8 euros ($9.31 dollars) at El Corte Inglés supermarket and it is a delicious substitute for something like turkey or ham. I have to say that jamón ibérico is deliciously salty and can be either eaten as is or warmed over a regular stovetop.
Another interesting unusual thing that is done in Madrid is drinking the tap water. For me back in Florida that isn’t something that is recommended because the tap water isn’t clean. Yet, here I have saved so much money by refilling my water bottles and bringing them out with me whenever I go out to dinner.
I think grocery shopping here for me was pretty superb. El Corte Inglés, the big department store chain, is pretty much the most popular place to shop in Madrid. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when walking to El Corte Inglés. In fact, I expected nothing at all. Until I finally strolled in, to the supermarket and suddenly saw all of the food. Vegetables, fruits, sweets, and even a hot food counter. I didn’t want to do too much unnecessary shopping so I browsed a little first. I checked out their beautiful fruits which tasted as good as they looked (I bought an apple, that was so sweet). I bumped into a young woman who I questioned about her favorite meats located in this supermarket and she said her top favorite happens to be chorizo (Spanish pork sausage). Laura Flores, 22, said, “I truly enjoy the spiciness of the chorizo, paired with cheese, it’s perfect for a snack.” Luckily for her I’m not really a fan of spicy foods or else I would have had to try it. I ventured further and further around this beautiful work of art just taking in all the unique smells and foreign foods. I finally made it to check out, and I looked around the corner and noticed that they had the rest of the department store on the upper levels, with even a bigger amount of men’s and women’s clothes than everything in the supermarket section. I eventually made my way home with some cool groceries and a new shirt!
El Corte Inglés. There are several. I went to the one on Calle De Preciados, +34 915 21 38 58; 10:00am-10:00pm.