Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Sunny Spanish Fairytale

Once upon a time there was an Australian girl who travelled around continental Europe with a backpack, some sturdy shoes, a beaten up copy of Let's Go and a Walkman packed with up to the minute musical compositions by The The, Black Box, Nirvana and New Order. 

By and by she found herself sitting on a bench in Parco Sempione in central Milan, on a cold crisp blue day.   She spent some time wondering whether to visit the Dead Christ by Mantegna in the Brera, her favourite painting in the whole wide world, or perhaps some shopping in the Via Montenapoleone.

In spite of her father's admonition to never speak to strange men, she soon found herself chatting to a young man from Florence, in Milan on a weekend holiday.  They had much in common.  Soon they were travelling a little together, to Livorno,  Pisa and in Florence and walking everywhere in the cool crisp sunshine.  They spoke of books, and the strangeness of language, and philology, the study of historical linguistics and of corruption in Italian politics and the wonderful taste of salty cured meats.

(warm salad of roasted capsicum, onion, garlic and tomatoes)

Like all adventures, it had to end sometime. 

Melbourne seemed very boring and pedestrian on her return. A bit sad and lonely, the girl simply had to go back to Europe, this time to Madrid in winter, where the boy was now living, to stay in a little apartment near Calle de Toledo. The days were spent in the crisp blue coldness wandering around the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and shopping in Calle Serrano and the nights were spent dining at 11 pm, drinking gin and tonics and dancing till the sun came up.

(chicken in onion and sherry sauce, saffron rice)

There is a certain time of year in Melbourne, in August, when the sun shines, and the air is sweet, cold and clean.  It reminds the girl of that time in Madrid.   In memory of that time, the girl sometimes cooks a Spanish feast for lunch.

(sweet lemon doughnuts)

All dishes thanks to this cookbook, which is really growing on me:

The end.

(image (1) via La Femme Blog) 


Mise said...

I can just hear Nirvana's Heart-Shaped Box as the soundtrack to this tale, a box made somewhat sepia by some few years. A wonderfully cinematic post. That girl is my friend.

Paul C said...

A sensuous culinary journey.

brismod said...

A wonderful tale. I probably would've edited Black Box out, but then I danced the night away to them too...! Good memories.

Lee said...

Ah the joy and freedom of youth - what a beautiful tale!

Emma said...

Such a beautiful entry!

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

that is a perfect memory

Siobhan said...

There is a French word for the feeling of being in a country without actually being there, but I can not remember what it is. I get it too sometimes and it's usually dictated by the weather. It's a nice feeling isn't it?

I also listened to The The (esp This Is The Day) a lot when I went travelling OS. Smashing Pumpkins too.

Susie said...

I love your story Jane - it's good to have a little nostalgia in your heart and in your cooking.....x

Laura said...

Isn't this the most wonderful part about food? That it evokes memories past? And what a memory! I'll have to pick up that cookbook...there's nothing like late, warm summer nights in Spain...anything that gets me back to those experiences is nearly a necessity.

natasha said...

Oh, what a wonderful post :) Isn't it lovely to be reminded of great times by the little things?

Artful Kitchens said...

You simply transported me with your eloquence! So, what happened to "the boy"??

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