Things I Will Miss (or Not) about Spain

Marquis de Riscal winery, designed by Frank Gehry

Marquis de Riscal winery, designed by Frank Gehry

Things I Will Miss:

The food. You can get delicious food almost everywhere in Spain, often for little money. It’s heavy on fat, so it tends to be rich and satisfying. Even little holes in the wall offer yummy stuff, freshly prepared. Before I move on, I have to mention a very special restaurant, La Tertulia, in Barcelona. We ate there on the recommendation of our hotel, and it was only a short walk away. We ate outside in a charming patio. By this time, we were getting tired of meat and ordered several dishes of vegetables. All were simply delicious–and so was the menu. I took a few shots of it to treasure, as the English translations of the Spanish descriptions were adorable:

  • Mejillones con ajo y perejil al vino turbio: “Mussels, garlic & parsley to the turbid wine”
  • Paellas: “Cooked by 30% with sea water broth with healthy clams & truly sea”
  • Caldereta de arroz con bogavante: “Lobster soggy”
  • Costillar de Iberico a baja temperatura con grasa de barbacoa: “Iberian ribs low temperature with greasy smoky barbecue”

We ordered some Spanish brandy after the meal. The waiter poured us two enormous servings. There was a finger or so of brandy left in the bottle, so he shrugged and told us to finish it off, leaving the bottle on the table. Tipping is not common in Spain, but this guy got a nice one.

The people. Almost everyone we encountered was helpful and friendly–sometimes extraordinarily so. They worked hard to understand my execrable Spanish. Complete strangers rushed to help if we were having difficulties. Lovely people.

The art and architecture. Spain appears to be a country that values art, and it shows. Although I have traveled to many countries and toured many beautiful buildings, I don’t think I have ever been as gobstopped by architectural beauty before–especially the Alhambra, La Mesquita, the Guggenheim, and La Sagrada Familia. I do not expect to see anything, ever, that surpasses La Sagrada Familia.

Western light, La Sagrada Familia

Western light, La Sagrada Familia

The wine. As with the food, you can get good wine very cheaply everywhere. Pay a couple more Euros, and you can get GREAT wines.

What I Will Not Miss:

The food. Yes, I know I said I would miss it, but there is a downside. There’s jamon in everything, just about. I know Spain is famous for its jamon, and there are pig’s hindquarters hanging in every restaurant, but I can take it or leave it. When it comes to cured meats (except for bacon, and then it has to be cooked crisp), I can pretty much leave it. Spanish food is very meat-oriented, so if you are eating in restaurants all the time, you might not wind up with enough vegetables in your diet. I once received a platter containing a quarter of an entire lamb that boasted a single asparagus stalk. Also, the food is high-fat, which is delicious at first, but I became rather sated with it. Despite the reputation for tapas being small dishes, even when I ordered medio raciones (half portions), sometimes we received huge platters and basins of food that put American restaurants to shame for serving size. Just too much food.

jamon

Smoking. More people smoke in Spain than in my native California (though I cannot speak for other parts of the U.S.). Being former smokers, Tom and I loathe the smell–I think it’s something your brain does to help you stay clean. People no longer smoke inside restaurants, but they can smoke in the outdoor eating areas. Nothing ruins a pleasant meal in the open air more than cigaret smoke. And the ground everywhere is littered with butts. Gross.

The Weird Reservation Thing: Several times when Tom and I arrived at a more or less upscale restaurant without reservations, we were turned away–even though there were plenty of available tables. In one case, there was not another soul in the entire restaurant. I don’t get it.

That’s all she wrote, folks! I appreciate all the “Likes” and comments I’ve gotten on my trip blog. It’s back to work on the next novel, and I’ll try to think of something interesting to say soon.

2 thoughts on “Things I Will Miss (or Not) about Spain

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