For the missus’ birthday supper, I was foolish enough to offer that she should choose a country.
Hmm, she says, how about… how about… Uzbekistan?
I shouldn’t have asked. Uzbekistan. Yoghurt, root beet, herring, sour cream. Spinach, mushrooms, beechnuts and wind-dried beef or venison. Hmm, interesting. Actually, maybe we can make this work, but it seemed wiser to put this first suggestion away as a joke.
OK. Choose another one, I said, and she replied with Spain.
Now that was an interesting choice. At first, I thought Spain. Easy-peasy, but coming to think of something original, tasty, Spanish yet not the much beloved Paella…? Exciting. This is the resulting menu:
- A bowl of fresh Gazpacho, topped with hot croutons and quail eggs
- Sea bream a la Murcia, cooked in its own juices, and served with Spanish rice (the rice is a risotto made with the fish stock)
- CrÃ¨me Catalan
Uzbekistan is next up on the list of countries to try.
Every child knows that the best oranges are to be had around Christmas time.
Oranges are grown on the northern hemisphere. During summer, there should be an abundance of ripe and juicy oranges from Spain and Morocco, for example, available throughout Europe.
We know that the trees produce fruits throughout the year, or at least throughout the European summer months, so what’s special about the Christmas season ones? Do those oranges come from further afield (maybe even on the Southern hemisphere), or do orange trees prefer the cooler climate of the winter months? If they prefer the cooler climate, why can’t we grow them during the British summer?
I’m baffled by one of life’s few remaining mysteries.
When we went to Lisbon recently, we were pretty excited just how much Lisbon might have changed in those 15-something years since we’ve last been there.
We should not have worried. Although there seems to be a little more prosperity, everything was pretty much as we remembered it. The men still go out in knitted jumpers, and the women still wear quilted coats. The people are still very much no-frills but very friendly, and the restaurants still serve a regular Portuguese meal as
a plate full of steaming greens, potatoes, and fish. €10 still buys a kilo of wind-dried ham, or a bottle of Aquadente, or a little more buys you an entire meal.
It’s that no-frills approach to almost everything that we liked so much about Portugal, and we were very happy to find this hasn’t changed. I guess loosing that touch would be becoming more like Spain, which is of course
the last thing the Portuguese want.
Here’s the weird thing about La Gomera: it’s full of Germans! Not only is it a German holiday hot-spot, it’s an actual German enclave!
Starting in the 70s, I guess, quite a lot of Germans emigrated to La Gomera – not many compared to 80 million Germans, but on a small island like La Gomera, they appear everywhere. While many might have set out to seek self-realisation and self-discovery, and while some might still linger on some beaches smoking pot, many appear to have ended running a bar or a restaurant, a shop or some other business, probably putting in just as many hours, maybe more, compared to the stressful life they escaped from all those years ago.
In many restaurants, the menu would great us in German with the dreaded Hallöchen bei Thilo und Sylvia. The menu would be Germanesque, and some entire areas would resemble some German mid-west middle town down to details like the restaurant signs, contract breweries, and German football league shown via satellite TV in bars on Saturday afternoon.
Next time we travel to Spain, I guess we need to visit the main land’s non-coastal areas to actually get to meet Spaniards and explore Spanish life.
‘t was a good holiday, nevertheless.