And now, the entry series you’ve all been waiting for…..the food.
To be honest, I didn’t get to sample as much food as I had hoped – I don’t generally eat a ton, and I wanted to buy stuff for other people, not to fill my belly. I fully intend to forego the calorie counting and penny pinching the next time I’m there, and eat till I can’t walk anymore. (But who am I kidding? I’m going to walk it all off anyway….)
I didn’t eat my first Spanish meal until nearly 11pm on my first day there, which felt more like 5am to my poor, confused, tired stomach (but oddly, I was wide awake). I was wandering around in the dark, and realized I hadn’t eaten in two days, with the time difference. Sadly, all the tapas places were full, so I kept wandering until I found a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place (literally – I wouldn’t have noticed it between the two GIANT walls). I told the waiter (an Indian guy that spoke decent English) that I wanted a beer, and whatever he recommended to eat because I was starving. He said, “The tacos are really good. Three tacos will be enough?” I must have given him a Look, because he quickly said, “Okay, okay. Six.” He brought out a teeny ramekin of watery salsa, and a handful of chips while I was waiting and contemplating my order.
While six initially sounded like a lot of tacos, I realized quickly I probably should have ordered nine…or even twelve. The tortillas were roughly 4″ across (and I dislike tortillas anyway), and there was barely half a cup of carnitas. My Mahou was also mini. Being American, we have our big 16-oz pints. This glass was a 6oz glass, and because it was a draft beer, I only got one >.< Sigh. European portions.
On the way there, I had passed several fruit and convenience stands, so I figured I might make use of my lovely patio in my apartment the next morning, and eat a healthy breakfast of fresh fruit and juice in the warm sunshine of late Spring in Madrid. We all now know that I picked the coldest week in May to go to Spain, but I got the fruit and juice anyway. I ate it inside, on my counter, wrapped in a blanket.
On Tuesday, I went to buy some clothing in the shopping area, and needed to eat. But because I was ready for brunch at around 4pm, when everyone seems to close for siesta, I found the nearest place with an open kitchen. I sat down and told the waiter (another Indian who spoke great English – what the hell?) that I was starving and to bring me his few favorite dishes, but I also wanted a salad and a glass of rioja (okay, two).
I got a free dish of paella, which was nice, and I was so hungry I even ate the crust off the bread (it was soft and boring). But then the tapas started coming out, and I was instantly glad the bread was soft and could absorb all the amazing spices and sauces. I was so hungry at first, I almost managed to miss the decor – the entire place was filled with bullfighting memorabilia.
The six drunk, red-faced older gentlemen tried to hit on me in Spanish, and when I responded with “No puedo hablar muy bien,” they laughed and raised their glasses. I figured anyone that jovial at 5pm on a Tuesday must be doing something right., and so I joined them in a cross-table toast: “Por España!”