A great hair do at a wedding in Salamanca! Wow!
And……….a sign for El Camino in Salamanca.
Since my new friend Influenza introduced me to her friend Pneumonia about a week ago, I’ve had to spend way too much time in the house and on my comfy couch. I’ve read at least 10 books and had time to do about three different meditations a day. Since we haven’t been able to enjoy our usual “Thursday Tapa Til We Drop” day, my Partner in Crime has come over to spend a couple of exciting afternoons on the couch with me. The other day she brought Anthony Bourdain No Reservations in Madrid to entertain my pathetic self. Since then I have become an addict. I’ve watched every possible episode on Spain that he has made. After being completely nauseated by the Spain On The Road series I had vowed to stay away from any glam meets flan food show about Spain. But Bourdain is hilarious and makes me want to get off the couch and go out to eat!!!
We don’t use the television in our house unless there is an emergency of some sort. But, my new friend, influenza, and I have become quite bored during our required resting period. So, I took the advice of a dear friend and watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey. Just by chance, the episode that showed up first was titled Spanish Pavilion. On Chef Ramsey’s first visit to the restaurant he ordered the garlic chicken or pollo al ajillo, a very well-known dish here in Spain.
The name of the dish first brought up a fond memory in a bar years ago when I was still a tried and true vegetarian. My friend Cristi, also a vegetarian at the time, and I were out with a group of random people. We ended up in a conversation with a woman who was completely dumbfounded by the mere thought of us not participating in any carnal consumption. She went on and on for an extremely long time with every possible proposal to convince us to change our ways. My friend and I nodded and smiled politely for as long as we could. But when the woman, disheartened, expressed her true sadness that we would never try her “pollo al ajillo” we lost it and continued on laughing about it throughout the night and for the next five to six years. Actually, we still laugh about it.
Back to the Nightmares. When Chef Ramsey tasted his garlic chicken at the Spanish Pavilion, he lifted up a wing and unveiled about two cups of olive oil on his plate. I almost spit my chamomile at the screen. I was immediately taken to one of my favorite towns near Granada, Guejar Sierra. The amount of olive oil on Chef Ramsey’s plate didn’t even compare to the amount of olive oil in the majority of the typical dishes in Guejar. Pollo al ajillo being one of those. The food is delicious in the town but my husband and I often giggle about the amount of oil used. And one afternoon having lunch with my Mother along the river near Guejar we calculated 1 cup and a half of olive oil per dish that we ordered. We have no shortage of olive oil here. I need to take Ramsey to Guejar.
wow……..how did that happen? I guess you just never know what is going to happen in life. I had to take a detour for almost two months for many reasons but now I’m back and with so much to share! I have many gastronomical and cultural adventures in my notebook. Little by little they will trickle into your hearts and tummies!!!!
Luna and I walked home the other night……at sunset. Sometimes I have moments of bliss in this city. My Granada……the part of it that has always been a part of me, and always will be. There are places that I walk by everyday that are as familiar as my own breathe. Graffiti, the smell of jasmine and the old gentleman sitting on the bench.
Sometimes the beauty of the Sierra Nevada silences me. I forget it is there. Then, I look up as it is whispering Good Night. With the last traces of snow, its magic casts a shadow over the city.
Granada is small enough that while I’m sitting having a coffee, a friend suddenly shows up on her bike unexpectedly. People recognize me wherever I go, whether we met yesterday or years ago. But, you can also hide in its cracks and crevices. Under a tree in the Alhambra, in a hidden cafe or bar, or sitting on a rock near the river.
I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. One of them.
El Camino de Santiago or The Path of St.James is something that I hold dear to my heart. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostela has many different routes that begin in various places throughout Spain and the rest of Europe. I’ve walked it twice, two different routes, at two very different moments in my life. For me, the Camino is filled with fear and denial overpowered by magic and love. At the moments when you aren’t looking for it, you will always find a sign that points you in the right direction or gives you that last bit of energy needed to move forward. On my last Camino across Northern Spain we had “un día de estos” or “one of those days”, exhausting and eternal. It seemed like we would never arrive at our destination that day.
When we did make it across a very long and slightly creepy dam, we found a “town” with a closed down hotel that only brought one image to my mind……. the film Psycho!!! My first thought was, ” let’s get the heck out of here”. After hightailing it 3 more miles up a very dark and windy road we finally got to our new destination, Grandas de Salime. We were greeted with a warm wonderful meal and a place to rest. Although I had many flashes of horror films as we hiked those last 3 miles, I knew that we would be okay. Earlier on that day I had found the most amazing design that someone had left on the earth. The Camino brings it all to the surface.