Leftovers as food

Leftovers as food
1930. La Línea. Document issued by the military command of La Línea (‘Gobierno Militar de El Campo de Gibraltar’) which mentions permission for two specific residents in La Línea to fetch from Gibraltar «vegetable waste and leftovers». Source: Blog ‘La Línea de la Concepción en Blanco y Negro’, Luis Javier Traverso.

Leftovers as food

From at least the beginning of the 20th century until the late 1950s thousands of families in La Línea took leftover food from the Spanish and British military barracks. While hoping for better opportunities, leftovers and rubbish allowed them to survive. Jean Genet, the French writer, described his years as a beggar in Spain in his autobiographical novel Journal du Voleur (Diary of a thief, 1949). He arrived in La Línea around 1934. Imitating other beggars, he took an old can and went to collect leftovers from the English soldiers at the fence in Gibraltar.

The leftovers from the ranches at the military barracks in Gibraltar and the leftovers from the soldiers’ plates were known as «gandinga». Several people from La Línea had a daily permit to collect the metal vats and barrels where leftover bread and cooked food were deposited separately. They transported the barrels by cart and sold the content, and later washed them and returned them to Gibraltar.

«One of my uncles had a gandinga cart. They used to put rice pudding, chick-peas, meat and bones in it, all mixed together», explains Teresa Almagro. «People would queue with a pot for him to arrive from Gibraltar in his cart. He would charge for each portion he doled out. He had a separate container with crackers which the soldiers had with their food. And my cousin’s husband reared pigs with the gandinga which wasn’t sold».