Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sorolls I Like

Before Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League yesterday, I tried taking a nap. Instead I heard leaves shaking ferociously in the wind and some kids yelling across the street. I tried not to be annoyed with the children yelling, since it is their childhood stamp of fun times. Instead of getting annoyed for not being able to sleep, I listened with intent, and selected sounds I could enjoy in my useless attempt to sleep. I only heard one. 

The first sound I heard happening at the moment, and the next five sounds I retrieved from my mental file of I-like-sounds. My list is first in Catalan, then in English.

M'agrada el soroll de les fulles quan bufa el vent
M’agrada el soroll que fa el cos quan va dintre del aigua de la piscina

M’agrada el soroll de les tisores quan em tallen el cabell
M’agrada el soroll del contacte de les agulles de teixir quan faig punt

M’agrada el soroll al obrir una llauna de refresc 
M'agrada el soroll dels focs artificials esclatar en l'aire

I like the sound of leaves when the wind blows
I like the sound the body makes when it enters water in a swimming pool

I like the sound scissors make when my hair is being cut
I like the contact sound of knitting needles when I knit

I like the sound a soda can makes when you open it
I like the sound of artificial fireworks popping in the air

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Temps de Flors in Girona 2011

I found the perfect excuse to visit Girona this month of May, Temps de Flors. In all my years living here in Catalonia, this was the one major medieval city I had not yet visited. I was not sure how I would react to this city because over the years I had seen countless pictures of its bridges and over-hanging houses called casas penjants along the Riu Onyar, all appearing unattractive. I was not completely convinced by the photographs that it was as beautiful as they had described it in words.   

Now that I have been there in person, I can attest to all those statements made about Girona as a beautiful city to see and experience. The discordant styles and colors of the casas penjants along the river does not transmit in photographs their true effect and allure they have in person. 

The Temps de Flors exposition ran from May 7th to May 15th in its 56th year displaying flowers along monuments, streets, churches, interior medieval patios and public gardens all free of charge. The city also hosted activities and concerts throughout the run of the exposition. 

I do not know what the exposition has been like in previous years, though I will admit that I expected the artistic flower displays to be more impressive and sublime. In the end my expectations did not matter as I was absorbed by the Jewish quarter and the Carolingian Wall by Pere III. I hope to return next year for this exposition and to be able to compare this year's show with next year's. 

I am repressing the urge to post pictures that had nothing to do with the exposition so as to show you Sant Pere de Galligants, Capella de Santa Llucia and other incredible sites; I will save them for when I  return again in the next couple of months to fully enjoy Girona and all its history.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cargols Means Snails

Of the many wonderful Catalan cuisine dishes I have eaten, there is one I have tasted, enjoyed, and crossed off my list of menu items to request when dining out, cargols. I have tried escargots in a buttery garlic sauce back in the day when I wanted to expand the range of my culinary palette and appear cultured. I still remember the six, huge, thick snails served on a white plate with an escargot tong and fork at a restaurant  somewhere in Solvang, CA. It seemed like such a European thing to do, eat this one footed mollusk delicacy, too expensive to eat for the price of six little creatures in a butter and garlic sauce. I quickly got over it. 

Or so I thought. Cargols are very much present here in Catalonia and in my life because my husband relishes eating them with an intensity as he picks and chews, then lifts the empty shell to his mouth to suction out the sauce left inside. Slurpppp. He used to ask when was I going to learn how to cook cargols  like his Tieta Teresina. My answer to that question was always the same, “Never.” I enjoying cooking and I have nothing against this type of cuisine, but I will not spend hours in the kitchen laboring over a dish I am not going to eat. This cargol fix of his comes around every two months. It’s one of his all time favorite dishes, but I will leave it to restaurants to make him happy as he carefully pulls the snail from its shell with a long wooden pick. I have tried cargols here and they are very savory, but when I see the cooked snail pulled out of its shell, I get a bit uncomfortable.

The size of cargols here are small and a deep brown in color. They're coiled, shiny, and tight when removed from their shell. Maybe I stared to hard at them when I had them a second time in a rich tomato sauce and kept wondering about their tentacles. Perhaps it was the idea that they looked too much like the snails in between my plants or like the snails my mom would fling in the air when she was out pulling weeds when I was a little girl. The cargols on my plate no longer looked appealing with each one I pulled out. 

vi de taula
I do, however, participate eating this dish my way as David relishes with such passion his cargols a la llauna. When the snails are nearly eaten, I will reach for a piece of pa de pagès per sucar al suc. I might not eat the cargols, but I will dip my bread into the oil left on the pan because it is absolutely delectable. Now if his Tieta Teresina, who is 83 years old, had prepared cargols in tomato sauce, you can bet that I would be dipping my bread in that sauce too. 

cargols a la llauna--snails prepared in a square iron pan
rows of neatly arranged snails with shell openings facing up. this cargol dish
 is prepared with salt,  pepper, and olive oil and  cooked on an open grill. normally snails are boiled and sauteéd. 

hot finger burning snails

understand why I can't eat cargols anymore?

eating all i oli with pa de pagès, perfect combination for eating cargols
this is the delectable suc I was talking about, pan drippings are the best
 sucar bread in oil
best carbonated water to help aid digestion from eating so many cargols. Vichy Catalan is commemorating the 125th  year of the Statue of Liberty

empty shells
happy belly means happy man
tallat, catalan expresso with a small amount of milk

restaurant El Taller in Caldetes, a small seaside town