Friday, January 10, 2014

Tales from the village

We haven't ventured too far from home since we have shared a bit of a flu bug during the holidays. However, we managed to visit new friends at their home close by. We were invited at 7 for aperitifs, and we know that the Spanish often have a big meal in the middle of the day or eat very late at night around 9 or 10, so we knew the invitation meant exactly that, aperitifs. It was a fun evening having some wine and eating nibblies consisting of cheese, bread toasts,  a little sausage and some local anchovies. These anchovies were wonderful, not too salty. Apparently they had been washed a few times and then soaked in milk. All this made the flavour milder and tastier. We shared our stories of life around the Port. Of course by now we had to deal with a new dilemma. What time to leave? In fact I think we left it a little late leaving at 9:30 but there was so much chatting going on. It was a good night out.

Our hosts did share with us that a Swiss neighbour goes swimming every day and for a few days dolphins came close to shore and played a little with him. I am so jealous. I can only think that this man must wear a wet suit. So far we haven't spotted the hardy Swiss. Lately, I have been tempted to go for a swim with the very flat water that we have right now. I know that I couldn't stay in for a long time, but we'll see.

While our local coffee spot is closed Monday to Thursday, we spread ourselves around other bars and restaurants in the village. The owner of one of these is on holidays and she has left her bar/restaurant in charge of an elderly English acquaintance. He doesn't make food at all, but that is fine with us. Yesterday we stopped in for a chat and a coffee only to watch in stunned amazement as he added instant espresso to a cup and warmed a little milk in the microwave. We didn't know what to say. The coffee was pretty bad. Now in Spain every bar has a good espresso maker. He explained to us that it was too expensive to turn on. No one in Spain would dream of making instant coffee. In fact when we told two of our Spanish friends they gave an incredulous gasp. I think the expat in charge of the bar is happy just spending time chatting over drinks with anyone who ventures by.

We met one of our other expat friends yesterday, who was bemoaning the fact that the store he wanted to visit in the next village was closed all day just because the owners had chosen to close. A funny conversation ensued. We started talking about nearby Figueres, the Dali museum town, and how most of the shops shut from 1 to 4 or even later. This leaves tourists drinking endless cups of coffee or wandering around aimlessly until the shops reopen. Our friend wanted to buy a jacket that he saw in the window of a store on sale with 50% off but he would have to hang around until later or chance it until another day. So frustrating.

Our conversation moved on to food. Now the Carrefour is open all day and they have a substantial foreign food section. We related to our friend our sad tale of visiting the supermarket only to find that the British food section that was quite sizable has diminished to just a few shelves. And worse! There was no custard. Our friend was worried that they still carried Coleman's mustard. Fortunately, they still have Branston pickle. We then had a very funny discussion about foods that we just couldn't go without every so often. Why has our section shrunk? Well it has been taken over by a big Russian and Rumanian section. It shows how things are changing in our part of the world.

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