Friday, 22 August 2008

Sí España!

I guess you're wondering what an Irish girl is doing in Spain... It's reasonable enough question, one I often ask myself, only to conclude that it was my love of food that brought me back here and that keeps me here (no offence E!)..

I guess it all started when I was only 18, on my post-Leaving Cert trip to Port de la Selva with Saoirse. I don't know what it was, but somehow that seaside village got under my skin, the Mediterranean saltwater in my blood that made me destined to return..

My first of experience of food here in Spain was not what you'd imagine - for the two weeks we spent between Port de la Selva and Barcelona, we lived on Chinese instant noodles, Lay's crisps (plain salted crisps were unheard of in Tayto-loving Ireland at the time), watermelon and ice creams - not what you'd call culinary delights. But I guess there was something there that fascinated me as I walked through La Boquería just off Las Ramblas..

Everything about it enthralled me, the people, bustle of people, the colours and vast variety of fruits and vegetables that I couldn't name in English, let alone in Spanish..

Just watching the old ladies was an experience in itself- the way the lady behind the counter would examine each individual tomato, testing for ripeness while endlessly babbling on in what was a stream of incomprehensible words to me at the time. How could it take so long just to buy a few tomatoes?

It wasn't until later, returning two years later on an Erasmus year as part of my university studies, that I really started to comprehend that the Spanish don't eat for necessity, rather for the love of it. Food and shopping was not a chore to them, mindlessly wandering up and down through the aisles, randomly picking off stuff off the shelves.. rather a hunt to find 'the ripest tomatoes', 'the freshest fish', 'the most succulent steak'.. They actually think twice about what they are putting into their mouth. They're passionate about it. I just have to look at my husband E to see him get enthusiastic about the great mackerel he found, and the hours that we spend just wandering around supermarkets wherever we go...

It's not that I'm criticising my hometown; there's really great Irish food too - but I guess our (the Irish as a culture) whole attitude to food at the time (although it's not the case now) was completely different, eating out of routine rather than anything else.
My background, I guess, was a little more special - my folks being fairly adventurous food-wise. Dad is a keen fisherman which meant there was always fresh trout on the table and we wouldn't blink twice to see him gutting fish at the kitchen sink, so it's not surprising to hear that reared a child whose favourite food when she was 6 was mussels..
Not at all typical in Ireland where the most foreign fish that you'd see then was haddock or something similar.. They're still one of my favourite dishes, simply steamed with loads of garlic and fresh crusty bread to mop all the juice.. It's like having the sea there in a bowl - just wonderful.. I guess afterall it's not so surprising that I'm living here with the quantity of fresh Mediterranean seafood available, maybe it's always been there but it took going to Spain to make me realise it.. Still, I do miss those Irish mussels..

So there you go.. it started out of curiosity and ended up being love, literally.. My family never cease to be surprised about the new foods and dishes E and I find for them to try, some to their liking (Rice with duck and snails is actually quite good!) and others not (still haven't convinced them to try callos)

So why this blog? Partly boredom - should have been working a translation project but somehow stumbled across a load of great food blogs done by people that have the same passion as me (Wow, I'm not alone in the world!!) and partly curiosity to see if anyone is actually interested what I write, to share my love for food and to stop boring all my other friends with my in-depth, blow by blow account of what we ate, where we ate it and how we'd do it better.
Well there you are...

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