Monday, 2 July 2012

Flavours of good life

A cooler day than expected with a fresh breeze, making such a contrast to the rest of the week's weather. The day of my arrival I walked into town in the evening and my overheated feet hurt for two days. This afternoon conditions were just for another exploratory stroll and some shopping. I bought some post cards to go with the stamps I procured last Thursday, wrote them and posted them before supper, walking back from the nearest post box along the cliff-top path. I found a nice clear quiet spot and treated myself to ten minutes of Chi Gong and Tai Chi in an invigorating sea breeze. For me that's better than swimming.

I inherited a pack of pickled anchovies in the Vicarage fridge, and experimented with using them to add flavour to a portion of rice I was boiling. I  poached the piece of bacalao (cod) I bought, by sitting it on top of the rice and anchovies for the last five minutes of rice cooking. It worked a treat. I was pleased with the outcome, accompanied by ratatouille, which I can do to my own satisfaction now that I've bought ginger and turmeric and pimenton to use. Cooking for one is a challenge, first and foremost, of portion control. I plan to perfect a few dishes so that I can give Clare and Eddie and Anne a surprise when they come. I now have some goats milk yoghourt and the other ingredients with which to experiment in making different kinds of hummus. Next target, to hunt down - a jar of tahini. There's some stuff you must see on a shelf to learn its Spanish name because it doesn't figure in a learner's dictionary.

Madrid is party town tonight, and broadcasting to the nation as Spain rejoices in yesterday's Euro Cup victory. The team are being treated like royalty, and with masses of people in front of a concert stage in one of the capital's main squares, it reminds me of the Queen's jubilee, only with more exuberance. The team all look so delighted both to be welcomed back and to be so successful. The economic crisis is hitting the country hard and poorer people are certainly suffering most. Europe debates if Spain can pull itself from the mess it's in. I think yes, though maybe not in a way that's expected or understood to well. The country is no stranger to adversity or oppression, but it has great assets in social solidarity and its sustained tradition of family life to help cope without losing heart. These are strengths that prove their worth in the long term. There are no quick fixes for the problems of the Western world. They are a sign of its moral and spiritual decline.

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