In a country where food is sacrosanct, gastronomic scandals that blow up on social media are not rare (we’re looking at you Jaime Oliver, and your chorizo paella).
Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona has written the latest chapter in Spain’s long list of food faux pas by selling two vacuum sealed fried eggs for €1.80.
That’s around the same price as buying a dozen uncooked eggs in Spain, but it’s not the price which has upset most Spaniards, rather the fact that something as simple and quick as cooking a couple of huevos in the frying pan is deemed too laborious and time consuming for some shoppers, according to Mercadona at least.
The label on the packaging states “put in the microwave for 45 seconds”.
One tweet that has gone viral typifies the response of many Spaniards to this bizarre supermarket offering. “We are going to hell”, wrote Dr Elena Casado Pineda along with a photo of the packaged eggs.
Nos vamos a la mierda. pic.twitter.com/vPV5I8Snwz
— Dra. Elena Casado Pineda (@Medicilio) November 25, 2022
Another user who posted a video of himself petrified under his bed covers, said “Mercadona selling fried eggs is the beginning of the end”’.
Several others have taken to TikTok to review Mercadona’s divisive eggs. “It tastes like an egg, even though one made at home is much better, obviously,” concluded one young influencer.
Eggs are after all a staple food product in the Spanish diet and essential for classic dishes such as the tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette) and revueltos (scrambled eggs with other food mixed in).
Numerous Spanish media outlets have also covered ‘egg-gate’. La Sexta TV interviewed a nutritionist to get an expert opinion on Mercadona’s fried eggs and evaluate their pros and cons.
Others have highlighted the repulsion of a large part of the Spanish population, some stressing that Mercadona aren’t the first to engage in such lazy and wasteful food offerings as Carrefour sells pre-peeled and dissected tangerines.
Carrefour dando réplica con mandarinas, al ataque de Mercadona con sus huevos.
¡Esto es la guerra! pic.twitter.com/ZAFh0dFq1E
— DON KIJOTEAK (@DonKijoteak) November 27, 2022
In the case of public broadcaster RTVE, the focus was primarily on what it represented in terms of plastic waste and the country’s new laws to reduce it.
“An average person in Spain throws away 34 kilos of single-use plastic packaging a year,” Blanca Rubial of environmentalist group Amigos de la Tierra told RTVE.
Spain’s new plastic waste law will ban plastic packaging of fresh fruit and vegetables if they weigh under 1.5kg, something that won’t affect pre-cooked food such as the controversial eggs.
Others have also pointed out that for people with reduced mobility (of their hands in particular) as well as blind people, having access to pre-cooked eggs can be useful, although previous attempts to market these products to such groups haven’t proven very successful.
Mercadona has responded by saying that their packaged fried eggs are only being sold in some of its supermarkets during a trial period.
Food delivery services have increased by 80 percent in Spain over the last three years, and takeaways by 68 percent between 2019 and 2021, with the pandemic no doubt largely influencing this.
It’s a booming business and whether Spaniards would like to admit it or not, their increasingly frenetic rhythm of life means that having time to cook isn’t always their top priority, even though they are by and large food lovers and proud of their gastronomy.
That said, who can’t spare the three minutes it takes to fry an egg?