Last night I dreamed that I was drowning in a soupy sea of red wine and macaroni noodles, and it’s really no surprise.
We landed in Barcelona almost a week ago, after dark, with the sky awash in thunder and lightning, and a few long, deranging days in, it’s already pretty clear that the Spaniards, and perhaps Western Europeans in general, have a certain zest for pleasure that’s conspicuously lacking in daily American life.
Long, languorous meals that stretch on infinitely, course after course, each one small but substantial and deserving of careful relish. Wine at any hour. Then, a few cigarettes to punctuate rambling, unhurried conversations with dining companions, and then coffee and maybe a look through the newspaper before the day’s work or rest resumes.
I’m not one to drone on scoldingly about the thousands of ways Europe is superior to the United States. I think that’s a small perspective, and I think that it neglects to acknowledge a host of subtler realities on either side of the pond. Each place is different, in both good ways and bad.
That said, there sure is a whole lot of savoring going on around here. And I’ve joined in the fiesta, full-tilt.
This early evening (still, really, only afternoon by the Spanish clock), I’m enjoying a glass of Cava (champagne, really, as far as I can tell) and a little bowl of fresh olives.
Yesterday, we wandered the Gracia neighborhood, snacking on little croissants and olive breads and fresh juices and fruits, then I clumsily navigated us to the Taverna Glop, a fantastic traditional Catalan tavern located on the corner of two cobbled streets housing a few crumbling mueblas and Iglesias.
The lunch crowd at Glop was languishing over generous carafes of vino tinto and little cappuccinos and endless plates of gorgeous, wood-fired meat and veggie fare when we arrived.
After a wait, we were seated upstairs by a garrulous North African waiter who sang and fed us mixed salad, kebab, smoked asparagus with romesco, whole fish with potatoes and tomatoes, green apples and a stinking huge jug of red wine, all for about $25 USD. After nearly two hours, and leaving half of the wine yet untouched, we stumbled back out onto the cobbles, then straggled home for a food-coma-induced-nap.
Dinner, when I managed to rouse my sluggish self from bed, was salmon with mustard, bread and manchego cheese, olives and stuffed peppers, salad, spinach and more cava.
Hoof! Drowning in food and drink, indeed. All this celebrating feels like a bridge too far, so today, I scaled back a bit. I attended a tough-ass Kundalini yoga class in the morning, then snacked on lighter fare, like eggs, toast, avocados, throughout the day.
Balance is never easy for me. I am either a bastion of self-control when it comes to food and drink and exercise, or I am balls-out indulgent, and figuratively inundated by delicious things.