I tend to vacillate between the two extremes of frugal and extravagant. I try to keep my extravagant purchases to a minimum considering the circumstances, but my frugalness (frugality?) knows no bounds. You’re talking to a person who will walk 3km to get somewhere because I don’t want to spend 1€ on the bus. Someone who uses grocery store plastic bags for trash so as to not spend money on trash bags, exclusively. This is unique to being abroad though. At home I’m not like this. I remember being in Mexico, Traci can back me up on this, and going out of my way to save two pesos or roughly the equivalent of twenty cents at the time. Of course my level of being frugal is directly correlated with the peanuts I’m earning here. Enough peanuts to live and eat but anything extra comes from the private lessons or savings.
I’ve been invited to a Thanksgiving potluck this weekend. I immediately responded that I’d bring mashed potatoes because I know I can make them and find all the ingredients despite the fact that I’ll have to peel 5 lbs of potatoes by myself. Then. Then I started hunting through the drawers of my meagerly equipped kitchen and realized I’d be mashing 5 lbs of potatoes with a fork. Damn it!! This means I’m going to have to spend money on some kind of kitchen tool that I will likely use only once. I am sure that they sell potato mashers in this city but I checked everywhere and couldn’t find one. And by everywhere, I mean the two stores within walking distance of my house. I do not have the transportation to drive all over looking. I checked Ikea, no dice. I checked Carrefour which is like a super Walmart or Target. They didn’t have it either. Like I said, I’m sure there’s a place but the only place left that was on my radar was El Corte Ingles. I have been SERIOUSLY AVOIDING El Corte Ingles since I got here. Corte Ingles is like Macy’s or Bloomingdales or Nordstrom plus super Target with a grocery store plus Best Buy plus Home Depot minus the lumber. It is massive. They’re all over Spain and the one here in Oviedo has like 3 separate buildings with like 6 stories each. Imagine like your favorite department store but the flagship version in NYC. I didn’t want to go in. I have been shopping deprived and everything here is different and not the same stuff you see all the time in the states and I just see and I want I want I want.
So, after my private lesson which is in the city center near the Corte Ingles, I decided I would quickly see if they had a potato masher there. At first I thought I was out of luck. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find the masher I’m used to which looks like a wavy zigzag but I would settle for the flat kind with the holes in the bottom. There were rows and rows of shiny gleaming stainless steel whisks and ladles and strainers and garlic presses, then finally, all the way in the back, I found one lone potato masher, or as the label indicated, prensa patatas. It was heavy and shiny stainless steel. I held my breath and looked for the price.
Now before I tell you how much I overpaid on a potato masher, allow me to explain my rationale. Because yes, I had to rationalize this purchase. I have to make the mashed potatoes on Saturday and I have no time tomorrow to go out and look for another masher. If I leave it til Friday there is a very good chance I’d be cursing myself Saturday as I’m mashing with a crappy fork. I can use this masher again to make mashed potatoes or even to mash beans. This masher will last a lifetime. This masher is cheaper than a plane ticket home for thanksgiving. This masher will be a sentimental reminder of my time here in Oviedo. Or maybe just a reminder of that time I spent $30 on a potato masher. Yes folks, this potato masher cost 22€ which is currently equivalent to about $30. I am aware that there are people who can eat for a month with $30. They probably already own a masher they got at Marshall’s for $7 like I did once. I guarantee you though, I will NOT be leaving this masher behind.