Today was my first full day living in Barcelona. I have yet to find an apartment or yet to become a resident, but I feel like I belong here. I have a local phone number and a local bank account. Tonight I went running for an hour and felt comfortable that I knew all the good routes and could even help direct tourists. I can’t exactly describe why I belong here, but it just feels right.
For the second straight day, I went grocery shopping. I think I’ll be buying groceries here much more often than I ever have, not just because I want to cook more but because of the culture. The grocery stores I have visited here are much different than the typical US store. Well over half the store is dedicated to perishable food items: meat, seafood, produce, and dairy. I’d estimate that Americans spend nearly 2/3rds of their grocery budget on dry, primarily processed foods. For this reason Americans don’t need to shop as often. For this same reason, I feel Americans are less healthy. Even though I am an American, I think the Barcelona diet is highly contagious. It’s hard not to buy primarily fresh, perishable items when most the store is fresh and entices you to eat.
In addition to all the fresh food, I’m blown away by the low prices on everything. Today I bought a liter of fresh squeezed orange juice (one ingredient: oranges) for less than a dollar. This same product would be two or three times the price in the States. I always thought that oranges were grown in Florida. Shouldn’t it be much cheaper to eat them in the US? Besides juices and produce, everything else is much cheaper. A loaf of fresh baked bread for fifty cents. A liter of mediocre wine for one dollar. Why is food so cheap here when everything else is so much more expensive? I can’t answer this question now, but ideally I’ll gain more perspective over the next two years. Right now I’d guess that good food is so much cheaper because the people here demand better food. I’m not sure if that follows the typical rules of economics though.