Sunday, 24 February 2013

Anger in the Streets - Smiles in the Aisles*

On Thursday evening, I reminded my friend Chris, who works in the centre of Madrid and where there is usually some type of demonstration, that there was to be a general strike yesterday and that public transport would most likely be affected. I have no idea how she hadn't heard about the proposed strike but she hadn't. So yesterday afternoon when I braved the bitter cold to go buy a few food items, it was I who'd forgotten about the strike completely until I'd almost got to the supermarket. Not to worry! It seemed busier than usual. I really didn't expect any violent pickets from past strike experience in this area. I did, however, think that possibly some of the workers wouldn't show up. If any of the workers were missing, I didn't notice.

 *The title for my post isn't original. I got it from the Economist (online edition 2 June, 2011). Sometime in the near future, the supermarket in my photo will be opening its doors, and its right across the street from me! Apparently from the information I gleaned from the Economist, and wikipedia of course, Mercadona supermarkets are to be imitated. The chain is based in Valencia (famous for its citric fruit) and uses the same 100 or so suppliers it began with. According to the Economist, since 2009 Mercadona has cut more than 2.2 billion euros from its products by cutting down on packaging, for example. Too much packaging is one of my pet hates, so this makes me happy. In 2009, it was rated the 9th most reputable company in the world by Reputation Institute as stated in Forbes Magazine. Not only does Mercadona offer cheap products, but must be one of the few companies that gives its workers a permanent contract, decent pay and decent hours. As I say, a company to be imitated. I know having it so close to my house will cause some problems like increased traffic, both car and pedestrian. My street is busy enough I think. Nevertheless, it will be super convenient and cheaper than other places where I shop. Another drawback I see is the harm that will be done to these places.

Last weekend, someone stole the time I usually spend on composing a post. Hopefully I don't get called out today. The weekends are when I get to relax a bit and do things around the house. Yesterday I decided I was going to take everything out of the bathroom and clean it from top to bottom. I usually leave jobs like this for when I have holidays. I thought why should I spend my whole time off cleaning. I found a partially-full can of hairspray for coloured hair and an unopened bottle of Avon bubble bath. These I'm giving to a friend. It's been years since I coloured my hair, so hope the hairspray is still okay. 

Nothing left to say, except hope everyone has a good week. Now I'm going to make some banana nut bread and will tolerate no interruptions I hope! 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Disco Daze

This is another old photo. As a matter of fact, it's from the first year I lived in Spain. All six of us lived together in a 3-bedroom flat in a street that hadn't been paved yet. I think the years have changed the colour of my hair in the photo, because it looks reddish. One of my first posts on multiply was about my rainbow hair, or how I'd coloured my hair every colour of the rainbow, sometimes without meaning to. I don't remember doing anything to it in this photo though. I only remembered how my top sparkled under the disco lights.

These are the people I lived with (left to right standing): Diane, who was from my university though I didn't know her before, Lynn, and Nancy (left to right squatting): Maeve from Northern Ireland, Paula, who shared a flat with me the following year, and me, with the reddish hair and sparkly top. Lynn, Nancy and Paula were from the same university. Nancy and I are the only ones who decided to continue living in Spain. Paula came back and lived just up the street from me for another year, because I kept the flat with the horrible wallpaper and lived there until I bought the place I now live in, which isn't far from my old rented flat.

Apart from going to discos or having a party almost every weekend, I remember how difficult it was living with 5 other people who weren't family. In general, we got on okay, but there was always some people who didn't clean up after themselves, or you'd have to wait to take a shower because all the hot water had been used up, or someone had eaten your food, etc. Every time we'd have a party, the electricity would go off. The landlord would have to come since the breakers were downstairs and we didn't have a key to that room. Now I feel sorry for those neighbours who had to suffer those parties. I myself always ended up going to a disco to get away from all the wildness. Oh, and there was a butcher's next door that only sold horse meat. We would often see them bringing in the carcasses, so somebody would have bought it. Most likely it's not a recent incident that horse meat has shown up in packaged ground (mince) beef. My granny always said what you don't know won't hurt you. Or will it? I'm not fond of hamburgers or usually eat beef.

Hope you've enjoyed my rescued memories and hope everybody has a good week. Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Food for Thought

Recently Mimi commented that she was unfamilar with Spanish food, and I'm afraid many people will confuse it with Mexican. If you're familar with the food pyramid, that's the Meditterranean diet and that's what the Spanish eat. Hot spicy foods are disliked by the majority. Sometimes you'll get a 'piquillo pepper' which is hot, but in general piquillo peppers are just another type of pepper, the vegetable. If you buy a bunch of these peppers at least one will burn your taste buds. That's the well-known law of probabilities when it comes to these delicacies. Count yourself lucky or unlucky. Just remember Spanish people don't like that burning sensation. Apart from piquillo peppers, there are few dishes that will have you grabbing for something to relieve your burnt mouth, throat and stomach. 'Patatas bravas' are one such dish. These are chunks of fried potatoes covered in a hot sauce. The best sauce is homemade, of course, and the hottest, I think, is the sauce that you buy already made. There used to be a place near one of the universities that supposedly had the best patatas bravas in existence. I haven't been there in years to know if it still exists.

Paella, a rice dish made with different meats and seafood, is one of my favourites. My photo is pretty old - probably around 1978 or so. The chefs are three students from the institute where I worked until it closed in 2004. The tallest of the three is actually the one who prepared the paella using his mother's recipe, and it was delicious. I imagine I would have prepared a dessert. The salad my flatmate Paula would have made and I don't know what anyone else would have brought. As you can see, we also had sangría (very popular with tourists). I only like sangría if it doesn't have a lot of sugar in it. An antedote or two about this photo before I finish. Ramón, the one who made the paella, lived directly across the street from Paula and me. Actually, he's the one who told us about the flat for rent as he knew the landlords. One of the neighbours in his building was always looking out her window at us, because at first we didn't have curtains and she could see through the French windows. The day of the paella, we were being silly and making faces at her and going out onto the balcony in masks when suddenly Ramón's mother came out onto their balcony. And just look at that wallpaper! We used to see it on TV and laugh. Our furniture was all from the 1960's. Too bad you can't see the backs of the chairs. They were heart-shaped. Another day, Ramón and I were visiting my friend June who lived next door. He recognized a lamp that she had as one he used to have. His mother had thrown it out, and June had found herself a lamp that worked perfectly.

Hope you've enjoyed reading what Spanish food isn't, and I hope everybody has a good week.