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, July 15, 2017

With no added preservatives

I went to have a quick look at the tanganilla competition in Culebrón this morning as part of the weekend long fiesta. Tanganilla, I think, also goes by the name of caliche, hito, bolinche and chito and there seem to be variations of it all over Spain.

Tanganilla isn't a difficult game to organise. A line in the dirt, a 10cm high (or thereabouts) wooden rod and some 7cm across (or thereabouts) metal discs plus some players - maybe a referee. The rod is set up about 20 metres from the line - I understand that one of the variations, and there are lots, says that the distance is 22 strides. Isn't that the length of a cricket pitch? The basic idea is to knock over the rod but from watching there seemed to be other rules about how close the thrown discs were to the fallen rod. Amongst the many regional variations a common one seems to involve placing a coin on top of the rod and then measuring the distance of the discs from the coin once it has been knocked off the rod. Dead easy and complicated at the same time - like pétanque or crown green bowling. I thought that the game was one of the innovations of last year's fiesta but a reader of the blog put me right - apparently it was a feature of fiestas in the past. The reader reckons it disappeared in 2008 or 2009. Obviously as my gut expands my memory shrinks because I don't remember having seen the game in the village before. If innovation isn't correct then revival is and I thought it was a good thing. A traditional game, no cost a bit of fun plus an easy opportunity to drink beer.

The other day in my English class, where I nearly always start off with any sort of Q&A session, to get everybody warmed up, I asked about fast food. Do you prefer burgers, pizza or kebabs? What's your favourite fast food? blah, blah. It's not the first time I've asked similar questions. When someone answers hamburgers I then ask whether they prefer McDonald's, Burger King, Fosters Hollywood, TGB and so on. Then I ask what they order?, what side order?, what drink?, diet or standard? But it didn't go that way with my Pinoso students. They liked burgers OK but they liked the ones from the local butchers or the ones that their Gran makes. It's the first time that I've asked the series of questions outside of a reasonably big town. The Pinoseros were re-assuringly dismissive of the floppy, semi warm burgers that the chains have a tendency to serve up. It was particularly re-assuring because Maggie and I have been shocked recently to see the queues of traffic waiting in the Drive Thru lane at the McDonald's in Petrer as we leave the cinema. Spaniards tend to like and enjoy food and it seems strange that they would queue for burgers.

I suppose the difference is that Petrer, or the side by side towns of Elda and Petrer, have a population of about 90,000 - somewhat larger than the fewer than 8,000 of Pinoso. Tanganilla and home made burgers - symbols of a rural idyll?

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