Friday, November 25, 2016

Out on the blowout

Last Saturday we joined some people from the language exchange group to go on the tapas trail. One of the participants was a bloke from Surrey who has partnered up with a young Spanish woman. He was saying to me that his perception is that whilst we Britons go out for a drink Spaniards go out for an eat. Obviously I agreed with him as it's true. Lots of Spanish life revolves around food.

It depends on your criteria but the Santa Catalina area of Pinoso has been described to me, by Spaniards, as the poorest bit of Pinoso, the most authentic bit of the town and the district with the strongest community identity. There's nothing to stop all three being true.

I've always known the area as Santa Catalina, named for the patron saint of the district, but there is a definite drift to calling it the Barrio de las cuevas - the cave district - where caves are the houses dug into the hillside. Either way I've been up there a couple of times this week to have a look at bits of their fiesta. On Sunday I went to see the first transfer of the image of Santa Catalina to her first overnight stop with a local family and, this evening, as a lead in to the actual Saint's day on the 25th, we popped up to have a look at the hogueras, the little bonfires that families, friends and other social groupings gather around.

We parked the car and walked towards the first little bonfire we saw. Maggie drew in breath through her nose and that was enough for someone to offer her a hunk of bread and one of the local longaniza sausages, cooked in the embers of the fire, with a drop of mulled wine to wash it down. I heard someone there describe me as the Culebrón photographer. I'm not sure whether I liked that or not.

We strolled on, we were offered wine served as a stream of red liquid from the wooden version of a wine skin. We bumped into, and chatted with, some Britons we know who were having a drink outside one of the district bar's. We walked on towards another little fire where I was invited into the patio of the house to take a snap of a small shrine to Santa Catalina. That, of course, led to the irresistible offer of food: first buñuelos which are a bit like doughnuts made with pumpkin, then variations on gachamigas, more longanizas, some unnamed bits of cold and very unpalatable fat and then some broad beans cooked in a ham stock. The wine I had to surreptitiously pass to Maggie as I was driving.

We had only popped in for a quick look see. Very pleasant way to pass a cool November evening; very hospitable and, as Maggie said, November is a great time for a fiesta to add a bit of cheer to the colder and darker nights.

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