Running on Empty

Posted: May 21, 2008 in Food, Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It was inevitable; had to happen one day – last week I found myself out of gas. Friends may scoff and say ‘highly unlikely’, but no, I’m not talking ‘Blazing Saddles’ here, I’m talking about our source of hot water and hot food.

There’s no piped gas on Tenerife; everyone buys bottles of butano from the gas man, or the local garage, and hooks them up to their boilers and cookers. One bottle provides us with enough hot water and gas for cooking for about three weeks.

Midway through showering, the gas ran out and we didn’t have a back up bottle. I’m amazed that in four years this was the first time that it had happened. We do have a system, but we’ve ridden our luck one too many times. We have two gas bottles; as soon as one runs out we replace it, always leaving one full. Well that’s the theory. Somewhere along the line we took our eye of the ball and left ourselves without a safety net. So when the water turned cold on Andy on Sunday, eliciting cries that would make you think she just jumped into a Finnish lake in mid winter, that was it – finito. No hot water and no gas for cooking dinner.

It looked as though salad was suddenly on the menu that night, but then I remembered that in the depths of the shed were a couple of old, old camping stove and gas canisters from our days under canvas in blighty; good enough to rustle up a one pot wonder. So, thankfully we didn’t have to slum it too much until the following day when we were able to restock.
This time it wasn’t a problem thanks to the camping canisters, but they must be close to empty, so I’m not sure they’ll be able to come to the rescue again. However, I’m not too worried as I now have an alternative system to fall back by satellite dish

A couple of days afterwards, another writer living on the island, Colin Kirby, pointed out an imaginative way of heating up some nosh. Outside the Los Cristianos Cultural Centre (great place, always something interesting going on) a few blokes had set up an exhibition of cooking by solar power. Various satellite dish-like contraptions had been covered with what looked like bog standard aluminium cooking foil and in the centre of these were various pots and casserole dishes filled with stews, coffee and all sorts of goodies which were bubbling away happily; courtesy of nothing more than the sun’s rays.

It’s a technique which I’ve bookmarked in my head for the next time our ‘system’ fails and we’re left gas-less – we’ve always got loads of cooking foil; although as the gas usually runs out during evening showering, when the sun’s all but buggered off, maybe it’ll be easier just to make sure I’ve always got a spare bottle of butano.


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