Five things to eat before you die
I´ve been tagged!
It´s too exciting. I´m sorry not to be blase and woman-of-the-world about it, but I´mloving every minute, and can´t pretend to be cool. My first meme! And it comes from Melissa! The traveler´s lunchbox is one of my most favourite food blogs, and so, I am gibberish with joy. If I haven´t posted this before it´s because it´s proved pretty hard to write.
See, this meme, or joint project, has the ambitious but very necessary aim of coming up with a definitive list of things to eat before you die. Each blogger contributes five, and tags another five bloggers.
And I´ve been scribbling lists all of yesterday, and they were long.Lots of things have ended up on the cutting room floor, like tortilla de patatas in Galicia, toasted ham and egg sandwiches in Cafeteria Santander, fried fish on the beach in Andalucia, a picnic of viande sèche in the Alps, or onion soup in Paris, etc. Pinning it down to five has been hard, and the list may be a little lopsided, but anyway, here goes.
1. First quality Ibérico de bellota
The best, the loftiest, most explosively good food product ever to come from the body of a pig. And I adore bacon, mind, but ibérico is in a league of its own.
My advice to anyone coming to Spain is to do the following. Go somewhere good to eat, restaurant, tapas bar, whatever. Look at the price of a ración de ibérico. Write it down, order something else.
Then go to a market or good food shop, and buy some jamón from one of the specialized stalls. It will be perfectly cut, and you will pay much less. Applying what Calvin Trillin calls Alice´s law of compensatory economics, you´ll have "saved" enough money for a nice bottle of wine and some picos ( bread sticks), and will have the perfect picnic on your hands.
2. Angulas, (baby eels)
This is a case of things to eat before they die. And before you accuse me of enviromental malpractice, let me say I´ve only had them a few times, when I was little and they weren´t so endangered.
But one of my dearest memories is angula related. I was eight or nine, had had my bath, and was waiting to have dinner in my pijamas. My parents told me instead to put some normal clothes over it, and took me down to Ciriaco, the restaurant below us, where they were having dinner with friends. I was given a plate of angulas to try, and I gobbled them all up.
They are heavenly, a writhing tangle of grey tiny snakey looking animals, sauteed quickly with garlic and chili, at once crisp and soft. You eat them with a special wooden fork, which is always fun. Not so fun is paying for them, because these babies are almost as expensive as caviar.
3.Dim-sum, from wheeled carts
I´ve only been to a real dim-sum with carts reastaurant once, with my sister María in New York. It was one of the best meals I´ve ever had, and probably the best Chinese meal. But apart from the quality of the food, what I loved was pointing to the dishes as they arrived in the carts. I´d never have been able to order a meal like that, with so much stuff I didn´t recognize.
4. A full-on English cream tea
Betty´s in Harrogate comes to mind, but for the quintessential five o´clock tea it has to be one of the swanky London hotels. Sit on one of those low sofas beside the potted palms, listen to the tinkle of the piano and feel like the deb of the year while you wait for the tiny sandwiches, petit fours and scones with clotted cream to arrive.
5. Pipas,(toasted salted sunflower seeds)
I´d always thought pipas were as Spanish as can be, but recently read in Juan Eslava Galan´s history of the Spanish Civil War that they were introduced by the Russian tank soldiers, and quickly caught on. Well, one good thing about a war, who new?
My mother is annoyed with me for including pipas in the top five, but you see, she´s one of the ones who just don´t get pipas. You either do, or don´t, and that´s it.
I agree that they´re messy, and inelegant, and they make people look like parrots as they crack them with their teeth. But there is nothing like sitting outside in the summer with a bag of pipas on your lap, and a bowl that slowly fills up with shells, while you pander to the ying and the yang, alternating September´s extra-thick Vogue with Flashman.You know when to stop when your lips are cracked from all the salt.
I always do this with my father, at sunset, in el Pantano, and it´s the best thing in the world.
Picking the next five bloggers has been just as hard. I´m going with
Brett, from San Francisco
In the East Coast, I couldn´t decide betweenJulie, from Baltimore, and Ann, from New York, so I´m cheating and having them both.
Jenjen, from Sydney
Bea, from France via Boston
Melissa, from Panama