Comparing regular ol’ Spanish food to regular ol’ American food makes me really wonder why I live in the country that I do. What’s there to eat at an American gas station: dried out hot dogs made from unidentifiable animals, taquitos from the 1980′s, ding dongs, and slushies. (Okay, slushies… not so bad.) At Spanish truck stops: baguettes filled with jamon and chorizo, big wedges of tortilla, copas of flan, arroz con leche, steak cooked to order. And weensy bottles of wine. On the way to L’Escala (our home) from the Airport in Barcelona, Ross, Tania and I stopped and had a delightful little roadside meal full of all those sedition-inspiring things. Food in Spain is just generally good, no need to Yelp or Urban Spoon to make sure you’re not going to get a plate of overcooked pasta or a sad salad– just go to whichever restaurant is busy, full of Spaniards, and you’re sure to at the very very least get a dang good sammich made of crusty bread and some sort of cured pork product.
One day Tania and I hoofed it down into town to go to a swap-meet-Louie kind of market (espadrilles were purchased) and when hunger inevitably came, we just plopped down at a little seaside place and boom, voila, vale, here’s us with a beautiful lunch unfolding around us. To our left, an older couple, the woman with dyed red hair nursing a cocktail and the large-pusing-fat man with a glass of cava, splitting a bowl of mussels. After the moules, he got a bottle of red wine, she another cocktail, and his decadent Spanish man-lunch really began, course after course of things with shells and meats and everything arriving; he heartily enjoying, she reaching over for a dainty bite here and there. Behind us, four 70-somthing Espanolos, doing much the same; lunch and wine. So we followed suit. When in L’Escala.
First: Two glasses of cava please. The classic-for-a-reason jamon-melon deal, a pile of pan con tomat, aka bread w/the hint of a tomato smooshed around on it in the best way possible. Razor clams, which Tania had recently dug up in Massachusetts and had been dreaming of ever since, these ones bathed in olive oil. Pulpo Galecian style, chewy circles of octopus softened by a friendly relationship with that same olive oil, on top of slices of soft potato, topped with a big shake of paprika. Would you get that at some random beach restaurant in the US? No sir, you would not.
Even the grocery store: home of fresh-baked chocolate croissants and liters of fresh orange juice, a whole case of jamon, big good hunks of cheese… Dios mio. Later on in the week, a delightful beach road trip led us to some little town that I loved but can’t remember the name of because I’m a uni-langual dolt, and if it ain’t in English, I ain’t remembering it. We walked along the beach restos, picked the one with the most promising vibe, and we were rewarded with teenyweeny fried calamari, a fantastically odd salad filled with fruit and crispy jamon bits, pulpo (always the pulpo), and a sole for Ross.
Then a short walk before the mandatory ice cream stop: cinnamon-laced Catalan milky thing for Tania (the Spanish grandmother of Horchata maybe?), “cookie” for Uncle Ross (not cookie dough or cookies and cream, mind you; Spanish cookie–spelled “cockie” at one place, much to Tania and I’s delight), and for me, Maria galleta ice cream. Not something you’d find at your beachy ice cream joint at home, where there’d be a case of old ice cream sandwiches that were born around the same time as the taquitos at the gas station next door. (Although… I do love a mega-cheap ice cream thing once in a while… Choco-tacos…) So, to sum it all up. Clearly, I must move to Spain.