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Category Archive for 'Spain'

“The beauty of Jerusalem in its landscape can be compared with that of Toledo.” – Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana Perched above its bend in the Tagus, with sheer drops on three sides to eddying currents, and tightly-enclosed within its craggy walls Toledo has an impenetrable, monumental aspect. But, through the early morning rays, […]

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It must go down among the biggest porkies a man ever told a woman – right after Christopher Columbus telling his mother he wouldn’t be long; he and a few friends were just taking their boats out for a spin. And, never has the term “farm”* been used more euphemistically than when Felipe V of […]

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“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Don Quixote de La Mancha I have been told that the Inuit have more than 30 words for snow and a similar number of descriptors for the myriad tones of white, blue and grey that color their environment. If desert-dwelling Arabs had a similarly nuanced vocabulary […]

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Five years in the making, and after at least six months’ meticulous planning, this was not an auspicious start. Within twenty minutes of claiming our luggage off the futuristically-plastic baggage carousel at Madrid-Barajas, and after spending the few coins we brought with us on a pair of sorely-needed cortados, we stood, incredulous and cash-less, in […]

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An old joke tells of a Philadelphia area man who, panicking when his doctor diagnosed him with incurable cancer and predicted he had six months to live, begged the medic for help. “Isn’t there any way I can live for longer?”, he asked. “Go marry an Italian girl from South Philly and those six months […]

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When the coughing and farting of the antique truck had rumbled away, between the rustlings of birds pecking grubs among the dry plane leaves, you could just make out the pop and thwack of rubber on concrete. Ascending a double flight of unusually steep stairs, past a stained glass window featuring farming folk, the squeak […]

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As an icebreaker at the beginning of the birthing classes we took in preparation for the arrival of our first-born, participants were divided into male and female groups and invited to sit together and discuss their greatest hopes and apprehensions for impending parenthood. The biggest concern of our fellow soon-to-be-parents turned out to be making […]

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The longer we live, the more we understand that our lives, especially now that we have two children, are about compromises. These are often in the form of compromising what we want to do, more or less completely, because our children are either unwilling or unable to do it. Recently though, a new kind of […]

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Barcelona’s La Boqueria is perhaps the most famous food market in the world, and the most famous of its bar/restaurants is undoubtedly Pinotxo (pee-not-cho), run by the equally famous Juanito Bayen. His immaculate sense of dress and reputation for treating his guests like family have made him and his 14-stool establishment legendary. Indeed, such is […]

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With some cookbooks, you just open them, find something that looks good and go straight into your kitchen and start cooking. Charcutería – The Soul of Spain, the new book from Jeffrey Weiss, is not that kind of book. This is partly intentional in that the book is structured in such a way as to […]

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While awake in the middle of the night, hoping like hell one’s infant will go back to sleep soon, one experiences a range of emotions, including, but not limited to, joy, frustration, fatigue, anger, sadness, despair and, with any luck, relief. And, as one sits rocking away or pacing incessantly in the inky blackness of […]

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For centuries, mankind and cuttlefish have had something of a difficult relationship, certainly from the latter’s perspective. Even prior to the development of the photographic tint known as sepia – a brownish hue that makes the late 19th century appear to have been an unusually dusty period – the ink of the cuttlefish was prized […]

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St. George, the patron saint of England, whose plucky, dragon-slaying derring-do is taken as emblematic of the English spirit, far from being a native of the British Isles, or for that matter, far from ever having come close to visiting them, was actually an adventurous squire of the modern-day country of Georgia who lived around […]

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With wine there is probably more room for personal interpretation and opinion than in any other area of gastronomy. The sheer variety of wines available from across the globe encourages this, but the reputation of the wine connoisseur and his often ridiculous descriptions of the perfumes to be nosed out of the glass makes wine-tasting […]

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“We may have lost paradise because of the apple, but we’ll get it back with cider.” – Asturian saying “Reach out your arms, as far apart as possible – one high, one low – then just bend your wrist, but do not look!”, instructed the waitress. “Oh, and beginners like you must stand over the […]

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According to British and Irish tradition, black pudding has an esteemed place next to the bacon rashers, sausage links, fried eggs, mushrooms, fried tomato and fried slice in an old-fashioned greasy spoon breakfast, but its almost complete absence from the American breakfast table is confusing, especially given our known preference towards an injection of cholesterol […]

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“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet Emerging from the cool interior, the scent of carved stone and beeswax mingles briefly before being overwhelmed by the perfume of orange trees, and the holy silence is punctured by the mossy gurgle of a tiny fountain. […]

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Those of you who raised your eyebrows at the very idea of lentils mixed with chocolate might be forgiven for thinking that we have lost our tiny minds, that too long around infant children, cooing and a-goo-goo-gooing, has softened our already mushy brains beyond repair. Indeed, had we not gone out on a limb ourselves […]

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Towards the end of what is, in my opinion, his finest work, Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell tells of the bitter street fighting he witnessed in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War when the delicate alliance between communist, socialist, and anarchist factions of the Republican army finally collapsed. While certainly not the bloodiest scene in […]

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He’s certainly not the first to make such a remark, but when in a recent episode of his PBS show Mexico: One Plate at a Time, chef Rick Bayless commented that Mexican food may be the first “fusion cuisine” in the Americas, the concept resonated with me. The collision of cultures and culinary traditions that […]

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“Reach into your memory and come up with … what food actually regenerated your system, not so you can leap tall buildings, but so you can turn off the alarm clock with vigor.” – Jim Harrison, The Raw and the Cooked We’re certainly not the first bloggers to find ourselves stretched thin between the demands […]

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Being the innate pessimist that I am, watching a small boat being knocked around like a dodgem car on the rollicking, blue-grey seas at the normally placid Jersey Shore this past weekend put me in mind of the Costa de Muerte, the coast of death, on Spain’s north-west coast, where Galician fisherman have taken their […]

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“Eat no garlic nor onions, lest they find out thy boorish origin by the smell…” -Don Quixote to Sancho Panza, Chapter XLIII, Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Sitting around the table last night with gusts of strong breath coloring our domestic atmosphere, Amy and I were considering the profound effect […]

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It is no coincidence that, in the 30 years since Franco’s death, Spanish creativity in the arts, architecture, business, and gastronomy has blossomed. It is also no coincidence that it has been, predominantly, though not exclusively, Spain’s sub-national and regional groups — who were repressed most viciously by the Fascist dictator — that have led […]

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****Ahhh, the old dippy egg automatic food p*rn shot I remember the night in Madrid Jonny and I thought it would be a good idea to do a tapas crawl after having many, many drinks. We weren’t yet at that “I’m so drunk I must shovel food in my mouth now” place, but were maybe […]

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Many of European countries have a one-pot dish into which odds and ends of the beast and various cheap vegetables are thrown, and cooked until all components sit fall-apart tender in a rich broth. Examples include Lancashire hot-pot in the UK, the famed French pot-au-feu, and the various cocidos of Spain.

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Sadly, neither of the parents were prepared to show-up for this family portrait, but we managed to persuade some other willing citrus to be stand-ins for the occasion. One day, not so long ago, a Jamaican grapefruit with a twinkle in his eye spied a sweet and winsome-looking tangerine. A couple of witty one-liners later, […]

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Those readers who’ve been following us for a while know (and, we hope, appreciate) that we frequently put our bodies and constitutions on the line for your benefit. Indeed, some of you may remember, that during our stay in Madrid last year, one of us, quite literally, pushed himself to breaking point in this endeavor. It was […]

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Over a year ago when we were in Madrid, Spain we had two dining experiences that were particularly memorable. They were memorable because these were the spots we ended up just doing an eenie-meenie-minee-moe way to pick it. Sometimes those restaurants, the type that involve zero research or reading of reviews, that end up being the best.  The first experience […]

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It’s nearly a year now since we were in Madrid, and while during that time we’ve managed to shed some of the excess poundage we gained there, we’ve lost none of our longing to be back there. And, it’s a strange thing about longing that all your memories become more vivid, and you remember even […]

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