Whatever Lola Wants

MAKING HER ENTRANCE. LATER, A BREAK FOR A CALL FROM #1 SON (THERE’S ALSO A #1 DAUGHTER).

Lola and I try to get together two mornings a week for coffee and conversation. Tuesdays for English and Thursdays for Spanish. We meet, usually outside, at Casa Santos, a little café about two blocks away from Lola’s house (six or seven blocks for me). The café has three tables inside and, at this time of year, four outside. The number of outside tables more than doubles in warmer weather. The owners, Santo and his wife, do it all themselves… with warmth and charm. I love going there, even though the little plaza doesn’t get a lot of sun. Our own plaza is very sunny and warm and we love it. It just doesn’t have Santo.

SANTO AND CASA SANTOS. A VERY FRIENDLY PLACE.

Whether the focus that day is on English or Spanish, we both learn in both languages. I really enjoy my mornings spent with Lola. The always-generous Albert introduced us to Lola when we were here in January. He usually meets us for coffee and conversation Thursday mornings. Albert, who speaks several languages, leaves us to ourselves Tuesdays so Lola doesn’t feel inhibited in her attempts at English.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD. A VIEW DOWN THE SIDESTREET.

Lola is a combination of the Lola of “Damn Yankees,” Lola of the Barry Manilow song “Copacabana,” a character from “Sex and the City” (or as it’s called here “Sex in New York”), and Earth Mother. As I said last week (totally inappropriately in Spanish), “the total package.” Whenever I see her, I want to burst into song.

Chicken Soup and Other Body Parts

We had Breakfast #2 downstairs at El Sanedrín this morning. Teré wasn’t feeling well.  Jerry made chicken soup a few days ago and had a small container in the freezer. He asked Teré if she would like it since she could simply heat it up in the restaurant kitchen for lunch. Jerry is a bit casual with his Spanish vowels. I’ve told him he needs to be more precise in his pronunciation since a word can completely change in meaning with a different vowel ending. Chicken is pollo. But, Jerry didn’t ask Teré if she liked sopa de pollo (chicken soup), he asked if she liked sopa de polla. Teré, yet again, burst out laughing. (We have that effect.) It was clear that Jerry’s pronunciation meant something entirely different but I didn’t know what. I told him he should have said pollo and not polla.

I then, in Spanish, asked Teré what polla was. She blushed (she blushes easily) and said it was something she did not have but I did (Jerry, also).

Teré told Jerry that she would love some sopa de pollo but not the other, going on to say that she thought perhaps that’s what “preservativos” were for.

Cavalcade, Cake, Candy, and Kings

OUR FIRST ROSCÓN DE REYES, COMPLEMENTS OF LOLA.

We have nearly made it through our first Christmas in Sevilla.  Today is Dia de Los Tres Reyes (Three Kings Day). This morning, Jerry and I enjoyed our first-ever slices of Roscón de Reyes (a ring-shaped bread-like cake decorated with fruits symbolizing the precious gems that were supposed to have adorned the clothing of the three kings).  Lola gave us a beautiful boxed roscón when we met last night at La Perlita to watch the massive parade (cabalgata). Many roscón are unfilled and intended for dunking. Our roscón is filled with whipped cream. We have enough for 10 people, which should get the two of us through the next day or so. Good calcium. Jerry bought the ingredients and would like to make his own roscón. He loves to dunk, so maybe he’ll leave out the whipped cream.

THE FIRST CLUSTER OF THE HUNDREDS OF “THREE” WISE MEN.
HANDS ARE NOT RAISED IN PRAISE BUT IN THE HOPES OF CATCHING SOME CANDIES.

The Cabalgata de Los Reyes Magos (The Parade of the Royal Magi), held here in Sevilla yesterday, was unbelievable. The parade started near the University at 4:15 in the afternoon and ended near the same location well past 10:00 at night, more than six hours later. My estimate is that they march, walk, and ride 10 km (6 miles) in that time.

INTEGRACIÓN A LAS CULTURAS (INTEGRATION OF CULTURES).  FLOAT #14.
CANDIES IN FLIGHT.

The parade makes its way around much of the old city, passing within a block of our house about an hour or so before it reaches the neighborhood by La Perlita (which is less than a 10-minute walk from here). The floats (33 of them) were ornate, fun, funny, creative, and ranged in themes from the 1812 Constitution to Cultural Exchange to Ancient Greece to Spongebob Squarepants.

NACIMIENTO (BIRTH). FLOAT #2.
MORE CANDIES IN FLIGHT.

The parade was unbelievably impressive. Filling the gaps between floats were marching bands as well as marchers and riders on horseback dressed as the Magi. The only thing that was extremely unsettling for us was the fact that all those walking and riding “Magi” had blackened their faces. I make a point of leaving behind my American sensibilities (and insensibilities) as I experience my new and much-loved home here in Spain, but I couldn’t get beyond my discomfort on this one. I’ll have to learn more about this and people’s attitudes by talking to locals … of all colors.

EL GRAN VISIR (THE GRAND VIZIER). FLOAT #5.
AND STILL MORE CANDIES IN FLIGHT.

Clearly, the most important part of the parade to many of the spectators is the tossing, lobbing, fast-pitching, and hard-pelting of caramelos (candies) from the people on the floats and horses to the people on the streets. I was initially in the thick of things to get my photos, but after getting struck painfully in the head a few times by hard candies, I moved out of harm’s way. Next year, I’ll wear a hat (and rubber-soled shoes that can be easily cleaned).

HEARTWARMING. CARAMELOS DISCOVERED ON OUR DOORSTEP THIS MORNING.
COULD THEY HAVE BEEN LEFT BY THE THREE KINGS?

Chocolate, Street Music, Crotches, and Invisible Friends

CHOCOLATE CUSTARDS WITH A CITRUS CLOUD
(NATILLAS DE CHOCOLATE CON NATA Y CITRICOS)

I am again well fed. Jerry served another delicious dinner New Year’s Day and finished it off with Chocolate Custards (with a Citrus Cloud) from page 417 of “The New Spanish Table.” Teré and Miguel were here and we all agreed (from the sounds we made) that this dessert was amazing.  I finally rolled into bed around 3 a.m. Two nights in a row! Last night, I went to bed at midnight.  I didn’t get out of bed this morning until 10:45.

TELL BALTHASAR (OR ONE OF THE OTHER KINGS)
WHAT YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS.
NO SANTA (PAPA NOEL) HERE.

Despite our chocolate bliss, yesterday (2 January), Jerry and I both had a bit of the bah-humbug about us. We usually tire of “the holidays” by the first day of the year at which time, in the States, we were always relieved to finally take down the tree and pack up the decorations. However, the holiday is only just past half-way done in Spain on the first. We still have the Day of the Kings or Día de los Reyes (Epiphany) to get through on 6 January. The streets are even crazier this week with holiday shoppers since the Day of the Kings (and the evening before) is traditionally the time to exchange gifts in Spain, which makes sense since that’s the day the Three Kings, bearing gifts, were said to have visited. So, we adjusted our attitudes last night and are back in the holiday spirit. We will get through this. However long it takes!

In the United States, it is not unusual to play “Secret Santa,” whereby you draw a name and then anonymously buy a gift for the person whose name you’ve drawn. In Spain, it’s called “Amigo Invisible” (Invisible Friend). Jerry and I are participating with our group of friends from the bar, La Perlita. We are looking forward to the exchange Thursday night when we meet at La Perlita to watch the Day of the Kings street festivities. It was suggested Friday of last week when we were gathered at La Perlita that we do the “Amigo Invisible.” However, I had never heard of “Amigo Invisible” and thought Manuela, who suggested it, had said “Amigo Imbecile.” Everyone found that entertaining. I also told Lola, who looked especially beautiful that day, that she was “the total package.”  I said it in Spanish, which was a mistake. There is no such expression in Spanish, so what I basically said was she was the “total male crotch.” THAT took some explaining. Lola played up her indignance, laughing at me the entire time. I’m sure I’ll be hearing about it for years to come.

After breakfast at El Sanedrín this morning, I braved the crowds and went shopping for my Amigo Invisible. I enjoy shopping, but not during the holidays.  However, I endured and found exactly what I was looking for. And, on the way, I had the joy of being entertained by the great street musicians. It was enough to chase away any residual bah-humbug.

Lemon Bread — Just Like Mother Used to Make

Jerry’s mother, Alice, had a great lemon bread recipe that we (Jerry) are, so far, unable to reproduce here in Spain because it requires pre-packaged ingredients that we (Jerry) haven’t been able to find. However, when I mentioned the recipe in a recent post, I received a lot of requests for it. So, here it is in Alice’s own hand. If you have any questions, let me know. (And I’ll ask Jerry for the answers.)