I just reread an email that I sent to my mom a couple of days ago. It looks like I’m an ESL student. I garbled tenses and left out the “ing” a few times. Basically, I think my brain is confused. With my attempt to speak Spanish, I’ve had to rewire my thoughts to compose very basic sentences. I think my Spanish is improving but my English is going down the tubes. This is all just a big excuse so when my blog entries start to look like they were written by a sixteen year old ESL student, you’ll know why. Gracias por su comprension.
Anyway, it’s been a few days and there’s a lot to catch up on. I think I’ll write a bit this morning and then follow up with a recap of my very first Calcotada celebration later on this evening. I’ve got to leave my laptop behind in my little attic home and explore more of Barcelona. So how about list of “bueno” bullet points?
- I dined at Tapas 24 twice last week. It’s one of Lee and Lauren’s favorite restaurants, just down the street from their hostel. My first visit, we ate paper thin slivers of fried artichokes, blood sausage with rice inside the sausage encasing, “Bikini” – a deluxe grilled cheese with ham that’s called a “Mixto” in other parts of Spain (why they call it “Bikini” in Catalunya, I don’t know, but I like it), and three round scoops of chocolate mousse drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. It should go without mention that this meal was accompanied with lots of Cava. So much so, on this particular night, that Lee and I went back the very next night to order the best Cava hangover cure ever.
- French fries with scrambled eggs and ham (Papas fritas con huevos revueltos y jamon) at Tapas 24. You can eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is simple and it is good. Goes well with Cava.
- I visited Anais and Edwin again at ESMUC. This time I sat in on one of their rehearsals for an Italian opera that they’re performing in Milan next week. There were five of us in a tiny room – Anais, Edwin and his theorba (which I failed to mention in my previous post, has 15 strings), the harpist and her harp, the professor and me. Anais has a beautiful voice. She sang in Italian. The opera was translated on paper from Italian to English but the professor critiqued in Catalan, switching to French for the harpist when necessary. I sat there not understanding much of anything that was said, but in complete awe of the experience. Five languages (when you add in the occasional Spanish) in one lesson. Incredible.
- On Friday, Eulalia and I cooked a huge lunch. I love the markets in Barcelona. They’re scattered throughout the city, so each neighborhood has access to fresh seafood, fruits, and veggies. We made a salad with feta and strawberries, baked dorada with potatoes and onion and Marc brought little pastries home from the bakery for dessert. Lunch was a wonderful four hour affair.
- Friday night, I brought home a bottle of wine and olives. Marc, Raul and I ate dinner together. We threw together a few tapas from the fridge – cheese, ham, chorizo. Marc showed me how to make pan con tomate – a Catalan staple. It’s so simple and so good. Toast a few slices of your favorite bread. Slice a ripe tomato in half. Rub the tomato juice and seeds onto the bread. Sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with olive oil. Eat!
- I have been so out of touch with the news since arriving in Spain. I finally managed to read a bit of the NY Times a few days ago. In a previous post about my delectable dinner at Gramercy Tavern, I wrote about their roasted cauliflower. Elaine Louie at the NY Times was obviously channeling Happeltizer when she wrote about the very same dish! Check it out here.
- Go Michelle Obama! An organic veggie garden at The White House? I better hone my gardening skills and hone them well. I’d love to work side by side with the Obama ladies, picking cilantro and fresh tomatillos for a presidential fiesta.
- Most people in Spain say, “Que tal?” instead of “Como estas?” I like it. It’s the equivalent to “What’s up?” back in the U.S. It took me a few days to realize that it’s not a question you necessarily answer. It’s more of an acknowledgment of presence. But, when you’re meeting someone for the first time and you respond with “Encantado/a”. I love that. It translates directly to “Enchanted”. “Hey! What’s up? Oh, what’s up? (Double kiss, one on each cheek.) Enchanted to meet you.” Makes me happy.