On Being Macho / Sobre Ser Macho

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

I KNOW. I know. You see the word “macho” and you immediately think this will be all about me. But, it’s all about my grandmother. She was a handsome woman.

I’ve been scanning photos from one of the old family albums and selected a number of images of my paternal grandmother in male drag. They were taken over a number of years in New York City in the 1920s and I’m assuming my grandparents were going to costume parties or just having fun at a photographer’s studio (click here for an earlier post), but we’ll never know. Oh, the stories we could make up.

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LO SÉ. LO sé. Ves la palabra “macho” e inmediatamente piensas que se trata de mí. Pero se trata de mi abuela. Ella era una mujer “guapo”.

He estado escaneando fotos de uno de los viejos álbumes de la familia y elegí unas imágenes de mi abuela paterna vestida como un hombre. Fueron tomadas durante varios años en la ciudad de Nueva York en la década de 1920 y asumo que mis abuelos iban a fiestas de disfraces o simplemente se estaban divirtiendo en el estudio de un fotógrafo (haz clic aquí para ver una entrada anterior), pero nunca lo sabremos. Oh, las historias que podríamos inventar.

Cazuelas and Abuelas

Today ends Fuengirola’s annual restaurant event called “La Cazuela de la Abuela,” which means “Grandma’s Casserole.” Sixty-three restaurants participated offering their own special tapa-size casserole. All I needed to do was sample five and I could then vote for the best, and get entered in a great prize drawing. Except for sampling Meson Salvador’s entry, we missed the rest of the competition. But it doesn’t really matter because, in my humble opinion, Meson Salvador is always the best at everything anyway.

LEFT TO RIGHT: MY MATERNAL, HIS MATERNAL, HIS PATERNAL, AND MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER.

On the subject of abuelas and casseroles, my paternal grandmother died when I was very young. All I remember was her coaxing me out from behind my mother’s back by giving me candies from a cut glass bowl — raspberry hard candies with liquid centers. I, therefore, loved her.

My maternal grandmother was an amazing cook, but I don’t remember a single casserole.

San Geraldo’s paternal grandmother was born and raised in South Dakota, so I’m sure she made plenty of casseroles in her time. However, in South Dakota, casseroles were called “Hot Dish.” At a potluck supper, people were told to bring “Hot Dish” — not “a” hot dish, but “Hot Dish.” As Jerry’s Norwegian maternal grandmother would say, “More funny America.”

(Click the pics to make your mouth water…)

ABUELA (GRANDMA) OUT FRONT PROMOTING THE EVENT.
LA CAZUELA DE LA ABUELA. DELICIOUS!
(POTATOES, A VARIETY OF FRESH MUSHROOMS, AND CRUNCHY HAM).
TRADITIONAL SPANISH POTATO TORTILLA.
BREAD THAT WAS SIMPLY TOO GOOD.
REBANADA ESPECIAL.
(BREAD SLICE TOPPED WITH OLIVE OIL, IBERIAN HAM,  AND QUAIL EGGS.)

Beyond the exceptional food and atmosphere, what makes Meson Salvador the best in the world is the staff. They call us “family” and they mean it. After a recent meal, Adrián brought us our complementary chupitos (shots of liquor). They serve “Pionono,” similar to Bailey’s Irish Cream only a whole lot better.

Since San Geraldo rarely drinks alcohol, Adrián brought him something non-alcoholic, a blackberry (mora) beverage. It’s what they serve to children. San Geraldo made a face when he tasted it, so Adrián got a straw and helped him drink it.

SAN GERALDO AND ADRIÁN.
I ASKED SAN GERALDO TO MOVE HIS HAND OUT OF THE WAY FOR MY PHOTO.
THIS IS HOW TYNAN AND ELENA HELPED.
THAT’S WHEN I TAUGHT ADRIÁN THE MEANING OF THE ENGLISH TERM “SMART ASS.”

A Very Yerry Christmas

San Geraldo’s maternal grandparents were both Norwegian, his grandmother from Bergen in the south and his grandfather from way above the Arctic Circle. His grandmother, Gudrun, focused on becoming “American” and couldn’t understand why her grandson, who to this day refers to her as “Gramma” Nelson, was so interested in her past in Norway.

WITH “GRAMMA” NELSON, 1949.

I never met Gramma Nelson. She died just before I met her grandson, around the same time my sister, Dale, died. But over the years I’ve heard many loving and funny stories about her.

No matter how hard she tried to become solidly American, Gramma Nelson never lost her Norwegian accent. Of especial difficulty for her was the “J” sound. Her grandson Jerry was always called “Yerry.”

ANOTHER OF OUR CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS,
YERRY’S BABY RATTLE.

Wednesday afternoon, while we waited for Judyshannonstreetwhat (click here if you haven’t met her) to arrive at Málaga Airport, we had overpriced Starbuck’s cafe mochas and overpriced stale Starbuck’s pastries. At least the staff was nice. When he ordered our drinks, San Geraldo gave the name “Jerry.” When we received our drinks, we knew Gramma Nelson was right there with us.

From another Nelson… Gee, ain’t it funny how time just slips away?

Gefilte Jellyfish

COURTESY OF NATIONAL
GEOGRAPHIC (REALLY!)

It looks like “summer season” has come to an end in Fuengirola. The flags (banderas) are no longer flying along the beach to announce safe surf (green flag), risky (yellow), or dangerous (red).

With July being unusually warm and muggy, jellyfish (medusas) were in abundance. So a flag was added to warn swimmers of the risk. I went for a long walk on the beach yesterday and found myself side-stepping jellyfish most of the way. Many beach-goers were collecting them and tossing them in the trash.

One woman was filling a plate with a half-dozen at a time. It reminded me of a plate of gefilte fish* — which, in my opinion, is not a good thing. (My grandmother used to make ‘fresh’ gefilte fish and put it in her own jars. It was beyond disgusting  — In my humble opinion.)

I jokingly asked the woman with the plate of jellyfish if she was planning to cook them. I was grateful when she laughed and said she really didn’t think so. She then unceremoniously dumped them in the trash bin and went back to collect more.

Click the images for a closer look.

FROM OUR TERRACE: CAUTION FLAG AND JELLYFISH (MEDUSA) FLAG.
I MIRRORED THE IMAGE  — THE WIND WAS BLOWING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!
MY FIRST CLOSE ENCOUNTER ON SUNDAY. 
MANY BEACH-GOERS WERE COLLECTING (AND DISPOSING OF) THE THREAT.
A YOUNG FATHER WAS PICKING THEM UP SAFELY BY THEIR HEADS.
I STILL WOULDN’T RISK IT.
AN ODDLY SAFE BIT OF BEACH.
THE CURRENTS ARE FASCINATING.
THE FOAMY SURF, MID-AIR.

*Gefilte Fish: 
Fish fillets are ground with eggs, onion, bread or matzo crumbs, and spices to produce a paste or dough which is then boiled in fish stock. It is popularly (don’t ask me why) served with a fish-broth jelly! To me, it would be like eating jellyfish… Except for the poison.


I found the gefilte fish photo at National Geographic (click here). The author of the article, Virginia Hughes, described gefilte fish as a “flaccid culinary specimen” that looks like “brown-gray gelatinous lumps.” I think she was being kind.