Tuesday, 17 May 2011

mis abuelos

although abuelos might translate as grandparents my "abuelos" have no blood relation to me whatsoever, they are however as kind and caring as if i were their own son. They own the bar down the street, i go there every day, it started because they had wifi, and for 2.5 euros i could get a pincho of tortilla and a beer, and they'd always bring me as much bread as i wanted (which tends to be a lot) and a tiny plate of patatas Bravas. I remember commenting that they had the best tortilla, it tasted homemade. The lady replied that she made it herself every day.

No sooner had the comment escaped my mouth than a tremendous debate on the nature of tortilla perfection engulfed the bar, 90 minutes later i left, having reached no conclusion we'd all decided to go home for dinner (cooked in our respective "ideal" fashions no doubt). The next day i came back and we discussed the giro, having moved onto the subject of doping they were surprised to find that i didn't outright condemn Contador and that i really do believe he is the best cyclist we've seen since Mercx. the bar has since become something of a penya for Contador, and they're not shy about shouting a few encouraging words at me either. Generally you don't expect a 74 year old woman to erupt (see the giro reference there....) out of a greengrocers shouting "venga venga", especially at 8am when you're just rolling out of your house, but i can't complain. It does put the frightners on me when one of the family sees me out on the road and honks the car horn though!

they began to enquire about my training, my diabetes and my research. When the fact that i'm researching food came up all hell broke loose again. We talked about the tradition of eating paella on a thursday (Franco went hunting on a Thursday and he liked to eat paella afterwards, soon this became a national tradition as nobody wished to risk the caudillo turning up unannounced and fail to provide his comida of choice, or so we're told). Antonio regaled us with tales of his trip into Franco's private estate and the mountain of birds and animals introduced there for the dictator to satiate (some of) his bloodlust.

Soon i was a daily fixture at the bar, the stage of the giro was always on at 5pm, i didnt have to order, just wave as i came in and sit down. I told them about my food research and my love for Spanish food, they asked me when i would come in for lunch. It occurred to me that this was a bar, and they didn't cook lunch. But i gave them a date and returned. It did surprise me a little that business was sparse, in fact just me and them. and it was a little odd that the menu offered no choice. It only really dawned on me today when we were eating our paella and a customer came in and asked for a portion, and was declined, that this wasn't a menu at all. it was them, welcoming me into their family meal.

the food is always delicious but that's not why i go back. As the lady snapped at the offended would be patron "he doesn't have a mother here, or a grandmother, so im making him lunch". There does seem to be a genetic predisposition amongst Iberian ladies over 40 years old to want to feed me unfathomable amounts of olive oil, but i'm happy to benefit from it! I really enjoy sitting at a table and talking over great food and drink. We talk for maybe an hour after lunch, i'll chalk this up as "research" time but it doesn't feel like work. I'm picking up some great recipes though. Then go our separate ways until the next day. I'm growing to love the rhythm of life here, riding all morning, a big lunch and a nap and then another ride or some writing in the afternoon. part of feeling at home is being accustomed to the culture but a big part is feeling welcome and with my "grandmother from another (greatgrand)mother" i most certainly feel welcome.

what i really wanted to say is this: some of you know that things are far from rosy for me as of now, i wish i could say more but when i can, i will. despite all this people have been really kind to me when i've needed them to be, i hope one day i can pass the kindness on

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