Spanish Food: In Search of the Good Life


Nothing beats edible Art! Visual artists will tell you about the enduring value of their medium. I always want to ask them, “How does it taste? How does it smell? How does it feel in your mouth?” 

One could presume a Dali tastes better than a Pollock. Certainly a Botticelli must taste better than that thing you picked up at a garage sale. The beauty here is that edible Art/art is democratic, and mostly forgiving. Everyone can try to create it.  Since it isn’t enduring…no evidence remains. The triumphs move into the realm of oral history. The worst experiments reside there too. The rest of our efforts are just average meatloaf.

In Spain the quality of the food follows you. I stood in the produce section of an above average grocery store in the U.S. and wondered, “Why the Hell are they selling this stuff?” It was cellulose in a pretty package. The flavor got lost in a science lab somewhere.

Part of the Schwendeman/Hale travel design is to stay somewhere long enough to cook. This means finding a long-term let with an adequate kitchen. For short stays cooking-in isn’t practical. When in Rome for less than five days it makes more sense to take advantage of the masters working in the kitchens. The same is true in Barcelona, Venice, Paris, San Francisco, or any other city known for its cuisine. Staying longer is a different proposition. It means diving into not only the restaurants, but into the markets.

Donna’s rule of thumb for restaurants hasn’t changed. Mine hasn’t either. To be included on Donna’s list there have to be at least three good reviews. Rick Steves’ recommendations only count if you want to find wifi, or fellow U.S. tourists. My rule of thumb has two parts. Don’t quibble over restaurants when you are tired and hungry, and trust your eyes and nose. Donna’s wisdom guides us to incredible places. She will tell you mine barely manages to save my life.

Our homemade art??? The octopus, olive oil, chanterelles, tomatoes, pears, figs, and pickled vegetables were the kind of ingredients you have to really work to find at home. The deeply smoked pimiento should really get included in a communion service. The wines are that good too. The Devil needs to feel represented here. The local aperitif, Ratafia, is terribly wonderful. Sweetness should always have a kick that strong!

The beautiful tuna in escabeche? It’s memory has been erased by the salad Donna got at the Bau-Bar across the street from our flat in Girona. IMG_0365


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