Pretty much by definition, you never know what you're going to find at Noz. They call themselves a centre for déstockage, and I'm not sure how to put that in English. I think the polite name is "Outlet Store". We used to go to a similar place in Santa Maria, California, which we always called the Dented Can Store. They sell ends of lines, short dated stuff, that sort of thing, from all over Europe. Lately, for example, we've been drinking a lot of Cava from Noz: Spanish sparkling wine. Asda changed their packaging and sold off the old stock cheap. When I say "cheap", how does 2.99€ sound? That's under $3.50 or maybe £2.50. It's not bad stuff: a bronze medal winner at some wine festival or other. 

When we're there checking the fizz and the beers (some good stuff there, too) we also check the food. Currently we've working our way through short-dated Macadamia nuts, dated 6-8 weeks in the future, with labels in German. But you never know what you are going to find. This stuff was 90 euro-centimes, call it a dollar or 75p, for a 400g (14 ounce) pack. I bought one pack for the sheer improbability and the graphics: would you trust a chef who looked like that? And what about the company name, Muscle Meat (see left-hand pic below)? I thought it would be awful.

It wasn't. It was surprisingly good, like a single large, rather dry meat ball. But then, most meat balls tend to be a bit dry. Not only did I finish the pot: I did so with the assistance of Frances, whose tolerance for indifferent food is very low indeed. She had about five forks-full. Put it this way: if they have any more next time I'm there, I'll probably buy them out. To the extent of five or six packs, anyway. Expiry is a year or so after I bought this one: not too bad. It's an unbelievably good, cheap, easy, nutritious, low-additive lunch.

In a normal shop, I'd probably never have seen it. If I had, I'd probably have ignored it. I'd not have paid over 1€ for it, even if the graphics hadn't put me off. But now, well, I might even pay full price for it, if I saw it in a mainstream shop, which is unlikely. 

This is one of the reasons I love Noz. It's hit or miss; it's unpredictable; some of the stuff they sell is frankly pretty rough. But even the rough stuff is usually quite entertaining, and if you're peckish it fills a pit as well as better (Henry IV, Part I, Act IV, Scene 2). Meanwhile, some of the good stuff is very good indeed: the Cava, for example. And some Dutch pickled mushrooms originally intended for the Russian market. Not many Noz customers read Cyrillic.

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Words and pictures copyright (c) Roger Hicks 2016