Before coming out to Barbados for a six month sabbatical, I had my fingers burned (both metaphorically and physically) by a Waitrose BBQ.
After an extraordinarily promising start in the dicey world of disposable BBQ-ing (it ignited), the BBQ soon died down, and saw several free range corn-fed chicken breasts and a sustainably sourced tuna steak banished to the bin.
Two months have passed, and I have forgiven Waitrose (a relief to them I’m sure) because here in Barbados they are saving my bacon with the kind of quality that you only get the Waitrose Way.
I have always championed Waitrose, not because I live in a fairly middle class part of London where if you don’t frequent it you are likely to be perceived as a social pariah, but because of their continued commitment to high standards of animal welfare, support for British farmers and support for responsible sourcing; just a few of the values that make up the Waitrose Way. As a temporary inhabitant of Barbados, I want to continue those values here by obtaining fresh organic produce to support the locals, and I thought it would be a good 6 months until I would purchase from Waitrose again.
Since arriving in Barbados we have discovered homegrown, organic, produce in abundance at the local farmer, fish and veg markets. However, as much as I am passionate about cooking with fresh ingredients I am also a big fan of stews, especially Italian fish stews which call for the likes of chopped tomatoes, olives, capers and other produce commonly found in jars and tins. Pulses are also a firm favourite, and as I am eating significantly less meat here, I have turned more frequently to them.
So the need for these items led us to the canned goods isle, wherein lie vast quantities of tinned goods from America, and finding good quality, healthy tinned produce is no easy task.
In the Barbadian supermarkets, searching through the American tinned food in general is pretty disheartening. The levels of sugar, salt and additives are baffling, and could go some way to explain the high levels of diabetes in Barbados. But in a corner of one particular supermarket, hidden between baked beans so sweet they would have been better placed in the dessert section, were shelves dedicated to Waitrose products.
Discovering even just a small selection of Waitrose products created a feeling of euphoria that you would get upon finding an oasis in the desert after learning that you inadvertently confused your rehydration salts with regular sea salt and only had dry crackers to eat.
Below are just a few of my Waitrose favourites, but by no means an exhaustive list:
Waitrose tinned chopped tomatoes.
This tin of tomatoes is a welcome relief from American tinned tomatoes, which typically contain enough added salt and sugar to have you reaching for the insulin after just reading the contents.
Waitrose tinned and dried beans.
I buy nearly all my beans from the Waitrose selection and Waitrose LOVE life Kidney beans are well worth the extra time they take to prepare. Waitrose butterbeans feature in one of my favourite recipes and I stocked on more today. Again, they were the only beans that didn’t come in tins with record levels of salt and sugar.
Waitrose laundry tablets.
Back home, in all honesty, it was all about Ariel Liquitabs. After failing to find them here, yes, you’ve guessed it, Waitrose laundry tablets cleaned up (sorry) and we will definitely continue to use them at home.
Waitrose rolled oats.
They are quite possibly the only oats that haven’t been tampered with to make them cook faster. There may be nothing wrong whatsoever with quick oats, but I prefer to stick with what I know. And why the rush, this is Barbados after all…
Waitrose’s own wine.
High import taxes mean that even the most inferior bottle of plonk is usually two or three times the UK price, making purchases hard to justify. Waitrose ship a few of their own respectable bottles here, and they are all priced roughly the same as they would be at home. Their New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, from the Marlborough region, is one of my personal favourites, and would easily stand cork to cork with New Zealand’s most famous sauvignon of them all: Cloudy Bay. Waitrose’s own is a genuinely excellent wine, and at just $27 (£9), a steal.
Waitrose frozen berries:
The only frozen berries I can find that don’t form part of an ice cream; cashiers regularly look perplexed by this purchase.
So there you have it, an unapologetic dothing of the cap to Waitrose. I had no plans to sing such praise of anyone, let alone a supermarket, but it does so turn out, Waitrose, that you are indeed essential.