In a previous post I wrote that I wanted my holiday to Spain to be a culinary adventure, trekking into traditional Spanish towns and sampling real Spanish food.
There was one thing that stood in the way of this plan. When myself and Will picked up our hire car the man asked for Will’s driving license and Will looked suddenly very pale. He just stared at me with that ‘I know I’m in trouble now’ look and I knew he had forgotten it.
Luckily I had my driving license with me but I had never driven on the right hand side of the road before. I don’t want to paint myself as a useless woman driver who is nervous and hopeless at parking, but it did take some getting used to, so I didn’t make any long or complicated journeys in search of the traditional food I was longing for.
All the same we enjoyed ourselves and we did manage to get to one Spanish market and have some good Spanish meals.
Most of all I love soaking in the Spanish culture and way of life. I love sitting, mid morning, having a strong Spanish coffee. I love retreating to the apartment during the mid-day heat to have a large meal and a siesta. I love sitting in relaxed bars and cafes sipping wine and nibbling on nuts and bread to stave off the hunger because everyone eats at 9pm or later. And I love taking two hours over a meal that doesn’t even include dessert (because they don’t really do dessert you know).
Getting back to England and having to get up and eat breakfast lunch and dinner by 7pm seems so rushed and stressful.
One thing doesn’t make any sense to me in Spain though and that is the Chinese restaurants. I don’t find it strange that they are there, because in England we have restaurants of all sorts of cuisine, but it is the crazy prices. They are so cheap it doesn’t add up. Will and I had a meal at a lovely family Chinese near my parent’s apartment in Spain. This is what we had: An aperitif, a spring roll each for starter, plus some free prawn crackers. To share for mains we had beef in oyster sauce, chicken in curry sauce, Peking duck, sweet and sour pork and some noodles. I had some ice-cream for dessert, Will had a coffee and we were each given a shot of Schnapps. All this with a bottle of wine cost 17 euros! How can this be? The food was excellent, nice flavour, well presented and good portions. We would all eat out more in Britain if it was a little cheaper. All the same I left them a hefty tip because it felt like daylight robbery.
Lastly, a few words on the ingredients over in Spain. The fruit and vegetables were the most wonderful shapes and colours, unlike the uniformed produce we have in our supermarkets. They don’t sell ‘free-range’ chicken but all their chicken tastes as good as our fresh free range birds, and in many places they have hot chicken stalls that travel around selling rotisserie chickens (so delicious). Supermarkets always have a good fish counter with plenty of fresh fish and mountains of prawns and deli counters sell piles of roasted vegetables (which I bought on countless occasions), croquettes and stews of chorizo and chickpeas to take away in little boxes – much better than fish and chips wrapped in paper.
Oh and not forgetting good red wine for as little as two euros a bottle. It’s all you need really.