Sunday, 10 July 2016

Food memory

A late and lazy start this morning, with just one service in Alcossebre at noon. I drove there using the new N340 by-pass road, which opened last year, and has taken the heavy long distance traffic away from the existing arterial road, what may have been a by-pass road in its day, but since then, has acquired along most of its length through town, a succession of supermarkets warehouses and business premises. 

Nowadays this road has, for the most part just light local traffic, and is far less dangerous to use than it was last time I was here. Indeed, I notice a difference at night, as there's no longer the sound of heavy lorries slowing down to respect urban speed limits, half a kilometre away from the house. The new by-pass runs three kilometres inland across the coastal plain.

There were two dozen at the Eucharist and unusually, a third were non-communicants. Summer months are the quietest for church attendance here too, despite the influx of visitors. Afterwards we gathered in the 'El Camino' church shop just a couple of doors up from the church, a dozen of us, for drinks and a chat, and some of Doreen's special cheesy nibbles. Then I drove back for lunch via Lidl's, as I needed bottled water, fruit and some fish (merluza) for lunch.

I was a bit haphazard in timing the cooking, and started the rice too early, so it was ready before the veg and the fish. By this time I was hungry, and served the redondo rice - like an Italian risotto rice, to eat just with lemon squeezed over it. Not only was it delicious, but eating this awakened a lovely memory from nearly fifty years ago.

Clare and I spent the summers of '67 and '68 backpacking in Greece. Much of our time on both occasions was spent in Crete, where we were befriended by an olive farmer, and taken around to be shown village life in the mountains, and to attend festas attached to betrothals and baptisms. The first occasion, we were in a hill village, and served mezes to start with, then a large plate of rice with lemon juice squeezed over it. We were conscious of being welcomed by people who were far from prosperous, and blissfully unaware of local custom. (I should add, there were no guidebooks at that time. They had yet to be written.) 

We were hungry and ate the rice heartily, thinking that was all they could afford to put in front of us. Then the roasted lamb appeared, and piece by piece, the whole animal was consumed by guests and villagers. We ended that night so full of food, and no amount of wine music and dancing could help us digest, and we lay awake groaning, regretting our enthusiasm. We still laugh about it today.

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