España Dia Diez

May 29,2009

I am riding the superfast train, the Ave, back to Madrid after spending a few tranquil days in Jerez de la Frontera and Algeciras.

Barcelona won the (European) Champion´s Cup a couple of nights ago.  We witnessed a hugely ecstastic celebration in the streets of Algeciras.  Dozens of revelers jumped, fully clothed, into a freezingly cold fountain in the square.  !Ole!

I had the very good fortune to jam a bit last evening with Alfredo Lagos at Bar Arriate in Jerez.  He´s a wonderful guitarist and really getting into jazz as a means to open up his flamenco a little more.  Really fun.

Note:  I´ve not been using ¨we¨ in the Royal sense.  My close friend Alberto Blanco came to Spain at the same time as me and we´ve shared a few adventures since arriving. 

Alberto is an unabashed ¨foodie¨ forever in search of great comida y bebida.  So often, in past trips to Spain, I´ve been broke or nearly broke.  ¨Economicos¨ and funky eateries are very well known to me, especially in Madrid.  This time I am noshing like a king.

A few observations:  a lot of Spanish food is way over-cooked, deep fat-fried, or drowning in mayonaise.  Grocery stores and super-mercados are jam packed with a beautiful selection of fruits, vegetables and dairy.  Great bakeries.  Many wonderful cheeses, and the pork—jamon Iberico, especially ¨la pata negra¨ but also caña de lomo, morcilla, chorizo—is of very high quality.  Fish markets are impressive.  The market in Jerez is mind-blowing.

There seems to be a traditional mind-set to food here.  The haute cuisine, fusiony, celebraty chef, fancy presentation thing that—I admit it—I have come to love, one does not easily find in Spain.  Perhaps in Barcelona…. I´ve long maintained that one comes to Spain for the flamenco or the bulls or the nightlife or whatever—but NOT for the food.  This is no less true today.