Good Neighbors

Our upstairs neighbors (sadly, soon to be our former upstairs neighbors), Anna and Carlos, invited us for a spur-of-the-moment lunch with some of their friends. There were 12 of us, plus three children under the age of 7. Amazingly, everyone (including the 3-year-old) spoke English — well, perhaps excepting San Geraldo whose English is, as you know, questionable. Carlos is an exceptional cook. (Anna, like me, is great at cleaning up.) He made one of his traditional winter specialties, cocido — a chickpea-based stew with meat and vegetables. It’s what we would call comfort food.

COCIDO BY CARLOS.

One of the friends, also named Anna (there were three Annas that day), is originally from Sweden. Good friends of hers were in Spain for the winter and they happened to be in Sevilla for a couple of days. They stopped by for dessert with two friends of theirs, also from Sweden. Since I couldn’t remember any of the Swedish words my friend Siri has taught me, I greeted the first man, Dino, with a Norwegian expression, “Hyggelig å treffe deg” (“Nice to meet you”). I said it using my best Norwegian accent, which sounds quite a bit like the Swedish Chef from The Muppets. Swedes and Norwegians tend to easily understand each other. Dino looked at me a bit strangely. It turns out Dino was born and raised in Italy.

NEIGHBOR CARLOS WITH SWEDISH/SPANISH ANNA, TOASTING WITH VINO DE NARANJA.

BLURRY, BUT STILL HAPPY, WITH SAN GERALDO.

Anna (the original Anna) decided this lunch was a good opportunity to consume all that remained of their Christmas goodies, including polvorones — a “powdery” cookie that’s traditionally made with animal fat, which means they may not be at all healthy but they’re delicious and they melt in your mouth. I, of course, was too full from lunch to have the polvorón I was offered. So I instead had two. There were walnuts. San Geraldo hates walnuts, and I rarely get to enjoy them. So, I enjoyed a couple. Then came the chocolates.

A ROSA, RIOJA, AND POLVORONES.

There was fudge — homemade. I’ve got a weakness for fudge and when it’s homemade, well one has to be polite. So I had a piece of fudge. Then came cute mini cups of chocolate of some kind… with sprinkles. At this point, I had no possible room. But Swedish Anna told me her 21-year-old daughter had made them and sent them along for us. What could I do but be polite? I was polite … twice. They were unbelievably good.

MORE SWEET GOODNESS.

Then there was a wooden box of sweets called “yemas.” That means yolks and that’s what these looked like when you bit or cut into them. They’re one of many sweets made at the local convents for Christmas. The ingredients: Egg yolk and sugar. They melt in your mouth, too.

YEMAS IN THE BOX.
YEMAS OUT OF THE BOX. PURE SUGAR.

San Geraldo and I had arrived with an excellent bottle of vino de naranja (orange wine), which of course had to be opened and shared. I couldn’t imagine having any. I had already had two large glasses of Rioja with lunch. So I only had two small glasses of vino de naranja.

ORIGINAL ANNA AND FRIEND JAIME ABOUT TO OPEN THE VINO DE NARANJA.

I needed the vino de naranja to complement the sugared orange rinds that were made by Carlos’s father from the oranges he grows in his garden.  The only thing sweeter than the desserts was the company. How lucky can you get?

A BY-PRODUCT OF CARLOS’S FATHER’S ANNUAL PRODUCTION OF ORANGE MARMALADE.

SEVILLA IS NOW EVEN MORE DIFFICULT TO LEAVE.
SO MANY PEOPLE WE HOPE WILL VISIT US IN FUENGIROLA.

Anna and Carlos have two of the greatest boys we know. They’re both very bright, charming, and funny. They’ve been learning English since they started school and they, sometimes, love to practice on us — as long as their parents aren’t listening. I tried to get a good photo of Anna with Luis (6) and Carlos (7). Carlos always poses politely for the camera. Luis tends to ham it up. Kind of sums up their personalities.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

34 thoughts on “Good Neighbors”

  1. Oh yes! It does look like you will have difficulty leaving these wonderful people (and food!) now. Maybe they will visit. Great photos Mitch.

  2. Leftover Christmas goodies?! Oh, dear. I'm feeling ever so American right now. I'm afraid mine were consumed very nearly after the new year turned over, and none of them looked as good as the ones in your pictures!

  3. Michelle is right – leftover Christmas goodies in February? Mine are all gone by New Years Day! It's a bit like leftover wine…what's that?

    What a well-behaved guest you are. And you didn't even have to walk very far to get home! Yes, it will be hard to leave such good people.

    1. Judith:
      As I suggested in my response to Michelle, San Geraldo and I are overwhelmed by the amount of sweets and pastries available all over town for Christmas. We've never seen anything like anywhere in the United States — which is saying a lot!

      Yes, I am such a gracious guest. I considered taking the elevator home, but I figured worst case I could just roll down the two flights of stairs.

    1. Craig:
      Fortunately (?) I had been ill much of the week before and didn't eat much. Lots to make up for. We have been so fortunate to have made such great friends here. I'm looking forward to keeping them for a long time to come while we continue to make new ones.

  4. Just when I think that you are going to deny yourself some treat because you're too full, you eat two! Love it!

    It is going to be hard leaving good friends like these – but at least you're only moving a short train ride away. Will make the visits even more special (if that's possible).

    1. Jo:
      But you did notice I didn't have three of anything. I never over-indulge.

      Fortunately, our new home is a great vacation destination and many of our friends are regularly down there during the summer. And, like you said, it's a very short train ride for us.

    1. Odd Essay:
      Being a vacation destination, it's fairly quiet 9 months of the year and crowded the other three (insanely so in August, apparently). It's going to be a very different experience, but I can't wait to get started.

  5. You mustn't berate yourself so, Sir, for a good many Swedes and one or two of the Welsh are often born and raised in Italy; it helps with keeping Sweden cleaner, somehow.

    There will be tables and food and wine on the coast. No friends like those, of course – you'll be sitting alone, wind-blown and fending off the Spanisher Fly. Make certain that you pack a party-kazoo. There's nothing quite so plaintive as the sound of a lone party-kazoo on a desolate coastline…

  6. I was wondering how difficult it was going to be to leave all your new friends…such a sweet bunch and all the sweets and liquid refreshments…the orange wine sounds very interesting….I love orange anything.
    Soon you'll be living along the shore…looking forward to this new adventure.

    Ron

  7. What a nice farewell party! All those foods looked wonderful except the egg yolk and sugar candy struck me as kinda gross and unhealthy. Or, are the egg yolks cooked? Anyway, I'm going to google a recipe for Cocido–it looks really good.

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      Definitely not raw egg yolks, but I have no idea how they're prepared. I DO know they were like eating pure sugar. You might have liked them. The cocido is truly wonderful. It's originally a Spanish Jewish dish that was adapted for Catholics in Spain centuries ago — by replacing the beef with pork, and by adding pork fat!

  8. Again great photos, I'm hungry now. So how many kilo did you gain? In 24 hours you can burn it all away, and then some, when you have to redesign your home in Fuengirola

  9. Hello Mitch:
    This sounds to have been a wonderful lunch party. You are surely going to miss such warm, hospitable friends when you move. We too hope that they will be able to visit you but it will, sadly, not be quite the same.

Share your thoughts and experiences. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.