Upstairs Downstairs

Assuming that the French air traffic controllers’ shenanigans actually let us return home on Sunday, we have two days left in Spain this trip. We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the hospitality of two excellent pairs of hosts and have been wanting to take them out for a meal by way of saying both farewell and thank you. Everyone was free on Saturday evening so our original arrangement was to dine out all together on Saturday. I was to cook what seems to be becoming my party piece, Shrimp Etouffée, on Friday for Geoff and Pam, having refreshed my culinary memory last week on Chris and Yvonne.

Plans made, Friday dawned to cold showers. No, the rain in Spain had not returned; rather, the boiler that supplies hot water to the downstairs apartment where we are staying was out. Geoff tried valiantly to relight it but it refused to stay lit. No matter, the upstairs boiler was still working so, for our last day, we’d just use the upstairs facilities giving Geoff time to sort out his latest one of life’s little glitches.

We went shopping for our Shrimp Etouffée supplies and returned for lunch.

Whilst finishing my inevitable slug of rosado after lunch, I decided that the smell in my nostrils was not, on this occasion, a result of Geoff and Pam’s ageing dog Sherry’s ageing digestive system but was, in fact gas. Following my nose I discovered that the boiler supplying the upstairs, the main house, was now less than happy. Hmmm!?

Spanish houses tend to work on bottled propane gas. The bottles are housed in a gas cassita (little house) in two banks of five, a valve switching between the two banks. The normal modus operandi, is to run off the first bank of five until they run dry, then switch to the new bank and reorder five new bottles. Geoff went to the cassita and switched to the other bank of bottles. The upstairs boiler relit.

After an hour or so, the smell of gas returned. The upstairs boiler was once again unhappy. The second bank of cylinders were also empty. Geoff was unhappy. No gas: no hot water and no Shrimp Etouffée tonight. Everyone was unhappy. Geoff arranged for a new delivery but for mañana.

Fortunately, Chris and Yvonne’s Friday plans had fallen through and they were now free so we switched to eating out tonight, Friday, in the hope that Saturday would, indeed, deliver gas for dining in.

We spent a very pleasant evening with Geoff, Pam, Chris and Yvonne in Casa Caty down in Jalón where, “tonight is possible fantastico duck and is possible fantastico lamb”. While Chris launched into half a fantastico duck, Carol and I both chose fantastico lamb which turned out to be a whole leg … each! Memories of our lambing trip to Luc and Nadine last November. Luc had told us that the Spanish like their lambs at about 12kgs. These were clearly examples of that; they were much smaller than legs of English lamb but it was still a lot of meat for one portion. It was beautifully cooked, though.

Now we hope the gas will actually arrive tomorrow so our large shrimp can get their promised etouffée sauce.

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