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.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Souls in danger

It was a  Bank Holiday weekend (of sorts). You could tell this because the day off, the Saturday, was overcast and cool. We went to Valencia or, to be precise, we stayed in Alfafar. We behaved as tourists should. We went on a boat ride on l'Albufera, the freshwater lagoon, with just a dash of salty sea water, surrounded by lots of rice paddies, to the south of Valencia city. We dutifully ate rice cooked in a paella for lunch. We even tried to find the beach.

I'd not booked a room until a couple of days ago so our late choice of hotels, so close to the coast, was a bit limited. I basically took what was left. As the electronic wizadry guided us past IKEA, past Media Markt and past the MN4 shopping centre it dawned that the hotel was in the middle of some gigantic retail zone. So instead of passing our evening wandering the streets of an ancient city centre we strolled the corridors and courtyards of a shopping mall. In fact we went to the flicks, Operación U.N.C.L.E. - passable enough.

No whisky to be had amongst the various food franchises around the shopping centre when we came out so we decided on the hotel bar. As we walked pat Burger King we realised that the tailback for the "drive thru" service was the cause of the traffic snarl up. Inside a queue to be served was so long that it was doubled back on itself. All the tables and chairs we could see through the big glass windows were full, the terrace was heaving with people, there was a lot of noise and everywhere was covered in that usual Burger King detritus of paper cups, torn sachets and crushed chips. The customers were old and young, gangs of friends, families and couples,  - it looked like a Burger King advert; it was so all embracing and so exuberant.

Food is a common and popular topic of conversation here. Spanish people after visiting the UK often comment sadly on British food. I have had conversations with Spaniards about how to tell good ham from poor ham just by looking at it.

But in that Burger King at 11pm I glimpsed the Spanish future. Just like us. Meals served from packets. The family meal, eaten together, gone. Individual food for each person at different times. Waiting for the microwave to ping. Offal served only to pets. Grandma's recipes forgotten. The kids have already started to have obesity problems.

"It's good living here," said Maggie, as we passed through the hotel lobby, "We can get one of those McMuffin things for breakfast". "I like the way they make the eggs the right shape so they fit".

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