Spain At Last

Well, it’s taken six days to arrive but, for our last full day with Chris, Yvonne and el perrito, Scamp, we finally seem to have a sunny day with a beautiful blue sky. At long last Spain doesn’t seem to be doing impressions of England.

Travel and experiencing foreign cultures causes me to form a strong association between certain things and countries. Since I’m a gastrotourist, these things usually revolve around food and drink. Some of my strong associations with Spain are bags of 5Kg/11lb oranges for a measly 2.00€ (3.00€ when they get really expensive) and alcachofas (globe artichokes). Learning how to deal with the latter from instructions in recipe books was something of an act of blind faith the first time but I mastered it and use them now whenever an excuse arises. They’re occasionally available at home but are ubiquitous here. They make great addition to tagines or to paellas.

Happily, Chris and Yvonne are also gastronauts. [Ed: Scamp probably is a canine gastronaut, too, ‘cos he doesn’t seem to care much for dog food.] So, as Saturday is the day for Benissa market, we planned a real team cooking event of a suitable lamb and artichoke feast chez Chris and Yvonne before moving on to Pam and Geoff, only about a mile away, tomorrow.

I lost count of the number of vegetable stalls on Benissa market. There are at least six and all selling a wonderful range of veggies. More artichokes than you could shake wooden spatula at. We chose some pleasingly small and tender looking examples together with some asparagus to grill for lunch. Back home with our market booty.

The sun continued to shine. Carol and I walked el perrito down into Jalón to check out the rastro, the local flea-market, which was heaving. We took refuge in cafe and sat with cafe solos (espressos) in the cafe’s blazing sun trap.

The sun continued to shine. We sat in the garden back “at home” and enjoyed grilled asparagus with crumbled goats cheese and, of course, some rosado for lunch.

Eventually the sun sank below the surrounding hills and the gastroteam retired to the house to prepare Moro’s lamb and artichoke feast – and very good it was, too.

Now that’s what Spain is supposed to be like. Shame it’s expected to rain again tomorrow.

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