Q travel: with BAR­RIE MAHONEY

‘Twit­ters from the At­lantic'

Q Magazine - - Q Travel -

Bar­rie Mahoney was a head teacher and school in­spec­tor in the UK, as well as a re­porter in Spain, be­fore mov­ing to the Ca­nary Is­lands to launch and edit a new English lan­guage news­pa­per. He en­joys life in the sun as a colum­nist and au­thor, and con­tin­ues to write a se­ries of pop­u­lar nov­els and books for ex­pats.

Chick Peas or Coco Pops for Break­fast? I have rarely given chick­peas much thought. I know that I like them and, as veg­e­tar­i­ans, we have reg­u­larly used them in our meals for many years. They are ver­sa­tile, ab­sorb flavours in the most de­li­cious way and the bot­tled va­ri­ety can usu­ally be found at a very good price in lo­cal su­per­mar­kets.

I was in­ter­ested to see that the thorny is­sue of chick­peas has fea­tured quite heav­ily in the press re­cently. A Tweet by a Span­ish food blog­ger fea­tured a pic­ture of her son, along­side the claim that her son doesn't know what a bis­cuit is, which led to an in­ter­est­ing spat. Ap­par­ently, the boy starts his day with a bowl of chick­peas rather than coco pops for break­fast, which brought forth a flurry of de­bate, and some abuse from fans of coco pops, who con­sider that all chil­dren should start the day with this sug­ary feast, washed down with choco­late milk, rather than a highly nu­tri­tious bowl of chick­peas. Although, nu­tri­tion­ally, I tend to be on the side of chick­pea fans, I am not sure that they are par­tic­u­larly good for break­fast, but then again, I have never eaten them for break­fast and in­tend to stick to my morn­ing bowl of Alpen (with­out added sugar, of course).

The blog­ger raises some good points about nu­tri­tion, since it ap­pears that break­fast for many Span­ish chil­dren, as well as for chil­dren in the UK, has turned into a morn­ing frenzy with many chil­dren be­ing stuffed with sugar be­fore be­ing sent to school. Of course, in worst case sce­nar­ios, chil­dren are be­ing sent to school with­out any break­fast at all, which has led an in­creas­ing de­mand for break­fast clubs to be es­tab­lished in schools in an at­tempt that chil­dren start the day with at least a rea­son­able break­fast.

What's the name for a bat­tered chick pea? Hum­mus, of course, which is ap­par­ently in se­ri­ous trou­ble due to a world­wide short­age of chick­peas. Maybe Span­ish chil­dren are eat­ing them all for break­fast? No, the real rea­son is that the crop has been very poor in the last few years and this has led to an in­abil­ity to meet de­mand, which in turn has led to a price in­crease. The in­creas­ing de­mand for hum­mus, which is made from chick­peas, is also to blame since su­per­mar­ket hum­mus is in high de­mand in the UK. The price of chick­peas is the main rea­son for the rapid in­crease in the price of hum­mus.

The ma­jor UK su­per­mar­kets com­pletely ran out of the prod­uct for sev­eral weeks last year, and the ready avail­abil­ity of hum­mus is still look­ing doubt­ful, which has led to se­ri­ous talk of a ‘Na­tional Hum­mus Cri­sis'. Af­ter all, what ex­actly are peo­ple sup­posed to put on their pita bread? Chick­peas and hum­mus used to be known as ‘the food for poor peo­ple'. Not any more, since hum­mus is now seen as a trendy ad­di­tion to any sand­wich, wrap, pita bread, or what­ever the ‘in word' for a lunchtime snack is at the mo­ment.

The hum­ble chick­pea is grown in parts of Spain and the Ca­nary Is­lands, where it is a pop­u­lar ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional stews and soups. Known as ‘gar­banzo', the chick­pea has been grown in the Mediter­ranean, Mid­dle East and parts of Africa for more than 7000 years. The an­cient Greeks tucked into them as snacks, and they are a pop­u­lar ad­di­tion to Spain's na­tional dish, ‘co­cido', which is a stew that con­sists of chick­peas and pork. In the Ca­nary Is­lands, there is a sim­i­lar dish, but made with beef and chick­peas. The in­gre­di­ents of th­ese stews are not an ex­act one, since I guess much de­pends upon what the restau­rant has avail­able at the time, but I can al­most guar­an­tee that chick­peas will be lurk­ing in there some­where. Just don't get me started on the po­ten­tial short­age of falafel!

If you en­joyed this ar­ti­cle, take a look at my web­sites: http://bar­riema­honey.com and http://theca­nary­is­lander.com or read my lat­est book, ‘Liv­ing in Spain and the Ca­nary Is­lands’ (ISBN: 9780995602724). Avail­able in pa­per­back, as well as Kin­dle edi­tions.

Join me on Face­book: www.face­book.com/bar­rie.mahoney

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