Graham's True Stories
Number 32, Sparrows
I was reminded about this incident when all the chat about tea brewing escalated into a discussion about tolerance over other countries' national dishes.
Maggie will tell you that my taste in food is fairly conservative. I can't really argue with that. But it wasn't always so. Time was I was the experimenter in any pack - until that village cafe in Spain.
Let me backtrack a moment and set the scene for you.
There were four of us in a beat-up old panel truck deep in the Spanish countryside. We were about half-way through an antiques-search trip which wasn't proving anywhere near as successful as we had hoped. And we were also suffering withdrawal symptoms for the womenfolk we had left behind. It was to have been an all-boys together, 10-day stag night, but the novelty soon wore off.
Having to provide our own food meant eating every meal in an hotel or restaurant. This was fine in the evenings, but for lunch we hit a big snag. Just about the very time we got hungry, the Spanish got sleepy and everything closed down for siesta.
国厂精品114福利电影Result of this was that you used the rare restaurant that was open rather than have the luxury of being able to pick and choose.
国厂精品114福利电影On the fateful date in question that changed my eating habits for the rest of my life, we were trundling through rural Spain --and Spain can get pretty rural - desperately looking for somewhere to eat. The occasional small village did have a restaurant, but the owners were all catching zzzzzzzs.
Eventually we came to the smallest town square in the smallest village and there, just opening up, was the smallest restaurant. Itnwe trouped and Manuel (really) dropped two menus on the table. There were only two menus – there were only two tables.
Wouldn't you know it - everything written in Spanish!
国厂精品114福利电影Our group member with the schoolboy Spanish had coped quite well in Madrid but claimed Manuel spoke in a “strange” dialect, so we were on our own. The consummate cosmopolitan, I sat back sneering at my friends trying to convey “fish and French fries” by hand signals. I berated them. “We are in Spain, we must absorb the cultures and cuisine of the country”. This was met with even more violent hand signals, to which Manuel eventually nodded his head. It was my turn to order.
With a casual superiority which comes only with years of the grand tour, I pointed at the third dish down on the right-hand page on the menu. The left-hand page was blank and there was no third page.
国厂精品114福利电影Manuel beamed. He had found a soul mate.
Minutes later he returned with the cutlery and two glasses of wine - one for me, the other for himself. My friends were pointedly ignored. Together we toasted, probably, the great Spanish chefs who had graced the hallowed kitchens of the Avienda Palace Hotel in Barcelona.
Eventually Mrs Manuel called from the kitchen. He put down his fourth glass of wine. I think we had toasted the local matador twice and General Franco more than that. He pushed a trolley before him. On it were three plates piled with fish and fries. Cries of glee from my companions. The miming had worked. Manuel indicated that the third dish down on the right hand page was rather special and would be a little longer.
国厂精品114福利电影I resisted the temptation of poaching the odd potato from my friends' plates as I waited, getting hungrier by the minute. Eventually Manuel arrived with the trolley. Behind followed Mrs Manual. She wasn't going to miss meeting the cosmopolitan gourmet who had picked her speciality.
The plate with its silver cover was placed in front of me. Manuel, with a flourish worthy of that bullfighter I think we had been toasting earlier, swept off the cover.
On the plate was a slice of toast. On the toast were three fried sparrows complete with heads and feet.
国厂精品114福利电影Now, perhaps you understand why I'm a little less adventurous these days. Maggie is the experimenter now. Eye of toad, ear of crocodile, she'll go for practically anything.
Except, I have noticed that, whenever we are in Spain, and I'm making those fish and fries signs, she studiously avoids selecting a certain dish --- it's the third one down on the right hand page.