July 8, 2012 § 1 Comment
I am obsessed with the old yellowed buildings, gothic balconies and small alleyways of Barcelona, cut by the wide boulevards lined with palm trees and grassy areas. I am enthralled, and have managed to overcome my dislike of walking to wander about the city for entire days at a time. Hidden pockets of stores, bakeries and tapas joints, just off the main streets, but somehow secluded, guarded by the intricate maze of alleys, which act as fortifications against the throngs of tourists that pack the city center at all times of day.
What I am not quite so taken with is Spanish food, which is unfortunate, since that is the reason why I am here. I am simply failing to grasp the obsession with anchovies, why a perfectly good pepper has to be stuffed with some strange cream cheese in order to be served as a tapa, and why shrimps are cooked with delicate care, except with their shells on so that the diner can strip away all the oils and herbs, leaving nothing but a bare shrimp, with his intestines still intact. I know the latter is typical (and traditional) in many cultures, but I still just don’t get it, unless the satisfaction lies in your fingers smelling like shrimp for the remainder of the day. I have however, braved a sardine head, before eating the entire fried fish (yes I know they’re tiny, but eating a sardine is a big deal for me), pulling out the teeny skeleton as I went.
And, of course, I have managed to embrace several sweets, along with the architecture: donuts filled with dulce de leche or rolled in flaked coconut, and crispy, chewy churros, served alongside hot chocolate so thick it can be eaten like pudding — or simply used as a dipping sauce, as is traditional. Desserts so rich they ooze guilt and indulgence.
When I was not wandering aimlessly — I somehow managed to not go to the majority of the monuments, Gaudi houses and churches, mostly due to my impatience with waiting in long lines — I sat on the patio in the hostel, with 2 euro wine. And then, later on, laid by the rooftop pool of my hotel, taking in the sun and feeling the breeze from the sea drift over my face.