Thursday, May 27, 2010

Off Schedule

Yesterday (5/26), on our way from Cordoba to Seville, I got Liz to stop the bus for a short break at a small hotel/gas station along the highway. Nothing spectacular, but just such a relief to be off-schedule even for these few minutes.

Inside, we found the same kind of roadside place that would be selling walnut bowls along I-70, and a restaurant with 3 local guys vaguely astonished at this surge of strange visitors.

We tried the tapas--those small portions displayed in a glass case at the bar, then scooped up in 5 inch shallow bowls. Robert got the pork-in-brown sauce which we had the night before at dinner. I asked, but couldn't make out what the white stuff was, so I got it anyway. It turned out to be what they call Russian salad--some vegetables, perhaps lumps of potato and tuna, and a lot of mayonaisse. Great stuff. David got a plate of churrozos--spicy sausage chunks drowned in oil. And a round of Alhambra draft beer. A perfect afternoon break from the bus.

Just now, I ventured out for a snack. I didn't wind up with expresso, but picked a second outdoor cafe in the Plaza de los Venerables--an open space filled with orderly cafe tables, postcard racks bright and inviting, Spanish fans on one wall, a display of colorful skirts, and an out of place Ben and Jerry's.

The waiter asked if I (just) wanted tapas, and pointed me to the no-tablecloth table, a bare plain table that wobbled on the cobblestones. From the list of tapas, I didn't choose the "Spanish raw ham," nor the "Manchego ewe Cheese," nor "Small croquettes of ox-tail." I was tempted by the "Chick-peas Andalusian style," and could have gone for the baby squid, or the squid, or the sliced hake. But I stuck with the Seville veal stew (I know, I know--not PC), and the Sevillian Olives and a glass of red wine. The olives turned out to be pickled along with chunks of green and red peppers, lemon peel, and whole cloves of garlic, which I peeled and ate along with the rest. 2.40 euro each for the tapas, 3 for the wine, and .90 for the bread I didn't order, but ate anyway. Very nice.

Meanwhile, a group of 4, then 6 German tourists arrived. I heard "trinken," "olives" in English, and soon they had a few snacks and large glasses of beer. Not long after this forward expeditionary group, there was a crowd surge from one of the narrow corriders that make up the old city, and 25 more Germans arrived. They all chose to sit under the umbrellas of the adjoining business, the one that had the tables already set with olives and glasses and napkins. The guitar player over at the side went back to work, the volume of the plaza increased, and the head waiter at my place glared out at all the business he had lost. I felt vaguely guilty, as if he blamed me as the jinx, rather than the bare tables he offered.

I finished my wine, and left the Plaza to its odd cacaphony of Spanish chords and German verbs.

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