Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rice with rabbit and snails

We went out for lunch with our old pals John and Trish today and we went to a reasonably decent restaurant in town. We had, probably, the most traditional meal in Pinoso and I was a bit surprised when it seemed to be something a bit out of the ordinary for them.

Then I checked the blog and found that I've only once made reference to it here on this blog. A wrong to be righted.

Rice, cooked in a paella pan is a standard meal all over Spain, all over the World come to that, but the famous paella, the one from Valencia usually has prawns, other seafood and chicken. The one in these here parts comes with rabbit and snails. The meal in and around Pinoso goes something like this.

First you choose an assortment of bits and bats to start that are put on the table for everyone to share. Toasted and oiled bread served with some alli olli and grated tomato, salad, olives and nuts come more or less as standard. The rest will be to your choice, whatever they have on today plus some staples, usually things like small fried squid, clams, dry cured ham and cheese or, one of Maggie's favourites, deep fried cheese with tomato jam.

The freshly cooked rice itself will be served with a flourish. The big paella pan will be placed in the centre of the table on a scorched mat or holder of some kind or if there are a lot of you it will be popped onto a small stand placed beside the main table. It is essential that you make appropriate cooing noises at this point. If the pan is on the table you will be asked if you want plates as it often makes sense to eat directly from the pan (more room for the wine glasses!) Throughout the meal each passing waiter will check that the food is good. The appropriate and only answer is smashing - "Muy rico!"

The main course despatched there is the regular range of puddings. Once upon a time the choice was flan (creme caramel), ice cream or seasonal fruit but nowadays it's just like going to a Harvester in that the pudding list is extensive and sickly sweet.

At coffee time though there are a couple of last minute flourishes. Normally they will plonk a bottle of smeet wine, Moscatel or Mistela on the table though today we got Fondillon - thick, syrupy sweet wines. Sometimes, often, you are offered an alternative like Orujo de Hierbas - a spirit distilled from the left over pulp of wine making grapes flavoured with herbs - even better when you get offered both. Along with the digestif come perusas. Maggie calls them dust cakes. A sort of individual sized sweet bready cake full of bubbles and dusted with caster sugar.

And that's it. A light snack that, along with the habitual after meal conversation will take you from the normal sit down time of 2pm to around 4 or 4.30pm. Only a couple of hours to go before you can get yourself a few tapas to hold off the inevitable hunger pangs before you chow down to your evening meal at around 10pm.

No comments: