Friday, January 6, 2012

Food, glorious food!

Once again we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day for our Three Kings fiesta, here in our village. As with most Spanish traditions, each year it is very much the same as the previous one, but somehow, that predictability is part of it's charm. As I have recounted the events of the day many times before, (new followers of my ramblings can see this in my January posts of earlier years), I thought this year I would take a different approach and show a series of photos of the food that was available. Sharing a meal together with family and friends is an important part of any Spanish festival, and this one was no different. When I wandered over to the plazza this morning there were noticeably fewer stalls in the medieval market, and rather fewer people around, though there was a very good crowd by lunchtime, but I guess that is an inevitable sign of the times. However, all the usual food stalls were in place so come with me to visit them in turn. (Incidently, because of the number of photos I am using I shall post them fairly small, but you can click on each one to get a larger view if you wish).
So here we will start with two stalls that will not be open properly until later this afternoon. The first is selling donner kebabs and the other Arabian herbal teas and very sweet cakes.

Moving on we come to the man selling potato crisps freshly cooked in olive oil. He was doing a good trade.

The Padilla churros stand was there, but I didn't manage to catch her serving anyone (just chatting!). Churros freshly cooked is one of my favourites. It is a stiff batter which is piped into a vat of hot oil in a big coil, and once cooked it is cut into about 15cm lengths and liberally frosted with sugar, and sold in a paper cone. It tastes a bit like doughnuts, but if left to get cold it can be very greasy. It is still served in many places for breakfast with a cup of very thick drinking chocolate to dip it in.

There are usually two big barbeques at this fiesta. The first one was well loaded with fat pink sausages. orange choritzo sausage, pork ribs, lomo (pork loin) and joints of beef (more unusual as there are very few cows in Southern Spain). He was doing a roaring trade until he ran out of beer! Well with all that meat and dry bread, you have to wash it down don't you?!

The second barbeque was massive with several racks of ribs and strings of choritzo artistically arranged on the top bars. Over the fire there was an assortment of sausages, choritzo, pancetta (fat belly pork), racks of ribs, black pudding and chicken portions. Just to the right of the fire there is a man cutting thick slices off huge rustic loaves on which he spread salsa and slices of serrano ham. There is quite an art to cutting this in wafer thin slices. A good knife helps too. This man was very good at it. We decided to buy our lunch here today. We had met up with my firend Sylvia, so between the three of us we ordered a 'plato completo' which was a plate piled up with pieces of sausage, black pudding, choritzo, lomo and ribs. We had a fork each and tucked in. Being in a naughty holiday mood, we also had a big plate of patatas between us, which were excellent. Chips do not ususually feature on this sort of menu, so fried potatoes were a nice treat, and they are a lot easier to eat than the rustic bread which can be very hard.

Then we come to the 'comida popular' which at this fiesta is usually migas. Here is how it is made.
First light up the fire underneath, and then boil up a vat of oil and water.

Tip in a few sacks of flour and stir and chop until it is all in small lumps. Add a few bags of salt, some meat and garlic and keep stirring until the meat is cooked.

On closer inspection you may just be able to see that the pinkish bits are hundreds of garlic cloves - they don't bother to peel them here. Then there are brownish baby sausages and the orange bits are choritzo. There are probably some cubes of chicken as well. This is served on paper plates around 3.00 and it is free to anyone who is prepared to stand in the queue. I happily queue when it is paella or tortilla, but I am not that fond of migas, which is quite bland and dry, and we were all well stuffed from our barbeque anyway. The custom I can't get my head around is that when you get your portion of migas, you are also given a handful of broad bean pods, and these are broken open and the raw beans are eaten with the migas. I have often eaten raw peas straight from the pod, but I somehow can't quite imagine doing the same with broad beans.

And finally, while on the subject of food, this barrow is loaded up with local produce including olive oil and wine, all donated by local farmers and companies, and the entire lot is offered as a single raffle prize, with all money taken being donated to our village children's charity Asadis. If you buy a ticket, you are given a small cup of aniseed liquor, and a few local almonds and dried figs.

For my 365 photo today I have chosen this one. Grown men dressing up as soldiers in the sweltering sun, to re-enact the scene at King Herod's palace when the three kings stopped there to ask where the new royal baby could be found. To me it sums up the whole day, one of fun, celebration and community participation. The Kings themselves were similarly over-dressed for the weather, but we don't really expect it to be 30ยบ in the sun, in the first week of January! (If you don't know what I mean by 365, pop over to my other blog by clicking here, to read all about it).

There were a few trade stalls in the market, as well as food ones, and there are usually some nice pieces of handicraft to see. One stall had bobbin lace book marks and bracelets and he was selling them at 20€ each! I told him it was too much, but when he asked me how long it would take me to make one and I said I could do one in a day, he said 20€ was not too much for a day's work. He had a point I suppose, but he wasn't selling them all the same. (Perhaps I have missed my calling!) The man I enjoy watching makes jewelry from old cutlery and coins. He has some fairly basic equipment with which he melts, bends and twists spoons and forks into all sorts of bangles etc. He also uses the ends of the handles for pendants, and Chris bought this one for me. I chose it because I liked the colour of the stone on it.

So that is it for another year. The fiesta will continue with dancing in the marquee tonight, but we won't go over again. It is time for me to take down all the decorations and pack them away again, and then we will get back to some sort of normality, whatever that is. If this year rushes by as fast as the last one, it won't be long before I am unpacking them all again!

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