Thursday, 21 April 2011

homage to catalonia

first one to source the title gets a chocolate (or a virtual chocolat, unless you fly here to get it in which case i'll give you a real one).

my ride today took a turn for the more interesting around kilometer 75 when i pulled up to the the cafe-bar in Mont.Rall at the top of the climb. For a start, three massive white dogs which, at first appeared to me to be polar bears started heading pretty rapidly (and rabidly) in my direction, prompting a sven nys-esque remount as i headed for the door of said cafe-bar. Then, on my entry i perused the avaliable pastries (the selection was slim, it was 11am and they were all but sold out) and decided to order a small bocadillo (sandwich).

In an effort to branch out from my ususal tortilla and bread combo (thats tortilla espanol people) i went with llom, now in spanish lomo ahumado is a cured pork product but it turns out that our Catlan friends forgoe the curing in favour of merely frying a large pork chop, thus i was presented, not with a few slivers of salty goodness on a crusty roll but with an intimadating hunk of pig. Sadly the assembled old men of the village already clearly doubted my manliness and i wasnt about to sissy out of the challenge so, like the trooper i aspire to be, i bolted an espresso and about 1/2lb of pork and set off up another mountain, i knew they could see me from the bar, but i dont think they could see my expression of distinct suffering as i endeavoured to produce an acceptable wattage.

I really love the cafes and bars here, the pride they take in local produce. Every sandwich is served on pa amb tomaquet - crusty baguette toasted with tomato, olive oil and garlic. far more delicious than mayo or butter. Lunch is always a 3 course menu del dia and every bar serves this (as do all restaurants, it is a legal obligation and about the best thing Franco ever did apart from dying). seemingly always staffed by elderly ladies who take great pleasure in explainign local dishes and feeding underweight young brits i have already had some fantastic food and consumed roughly 17 gallons of olive oil and 24 kilos of garlic.

local pastries have also been making frequent breakfast appearances especially as we approac st jordi and easter, both of which come with associated baked goods. Pa de sant jordi is definitley worth your googling time, if not your baking time as it uses 3 dough flavours in one bread. The combo breakfast offers which allow me to eat a pastry and drink a small, strong coffee for less than 2 euros have facilitated the sampling of many such delights.

I really like the spanish approach to food, small amounts, no restraint on fat or sugar but a pleasure in eating well and taking the time to enjoy food. you cant get a coffee to go here, and i dont think anyoen would understand why you would want one. you take a coffee in a small glass and take 5 minutes ofyour day to appreciate it. i think the US and th Uk could learn a lot from this approach, mindless eating and drinking is rarely if ever a healthy approach.

molt be, i'm off for a paseo and a tapa in celebration of the completion of a 3 day block and a much needed rest day. Oh and apparently the local monks are quite excited about another skinny hairy dude with holes in his hands.....

1 comment:

  1. Issues with "taking time to eat" include the idea of feeding as "down time" in which one "should" be doing productive work (so just grab a drive-through or candybar and go back to the grindstone) and the idea that food needs to be appreciated at particular temperatures which cannot be maintained by normal (i.e., unwarmed/refrigerated) service. FWIW, I didn't grow up with the "eat, eat, eat!" exhortation of the stereotypical Jewish or Italian grandmother, but rather "eat it before it gets cold" and the idea that if left until the food no longer burns one's tongue, it will get unpalateably cold (not to mention, filled with foodborne pathogens) if it's not shoveled down fairly rapidly.