So it turns out, you can’t buy self raising flour in Spain.
Many trips to various different grocery stores, broken Spanish, google tranlsater and even bilingual English/Spanish speaking customers who took pity on my poor attempts to explain what I was looking for in sign language – ultimately failed to rustle up self raising flour.
Our house guests found out the hard way and still very kindly persevered with my gluggy self saucing chocolate pudding; smiling and gulping down the stodgy chocolate mess.
I should add that I also couldn’t find brown sugar azucar marron only gets you strange looks. The closest thing you can find is a product called panela which is almost, but not quite the same. I also couldn’t find cocoa for cooking. Only cocoa for hot chocolate. Now that I look back at the ingredients I couldn’t find, I probably should have ditched the chocolate pudding idea….. But from now on I’ll be making my own self raising flour which about.com assures me is not too difficult – wish me luck!
We have had a few mini adventures in between the flour and sugar debacle that have involved visiting the lovely Chinchon – a Spanish
village ciudad about 50 kilometres outside of Madrid. When having the ‘What did you do on the weekend?’ conversation with the students to practice their English speaking skills, most laughed a lot at my pronunciation of ‘Chinchon’. To be fair, it must sound odd in the Australian accent and did remind me of very politically incorrect sing-song games we played as children….
But I digress…. having only visited Chinchon for an afternoon, my description could never capture the entirety of the village.
We sat in one of the many traditional cafes on a tiny!!!!! balcony overlooking the Chinchon Plaza Mayor. I’m sure these balconies have stood the test of time, and I am by no stretch of the imagination an engineer, but there was not a single balcony structured on a 90 degree angle. Most are crooked and even my trusty Lonely Planet describes them as ‘sagging’. Despite our tilted angle, our table slanted towards the Plaza below, we braved through our meal, the sense of toppling down to our death only added to our growing belt of Spanish cultural quirks.
From our precarious vantage, we ordered Spain’s suckling pig cochinillo, patatas bravas, cervesas (sin alcohol for the driver) and wine vino tinto. The food and drinks were delicious and also ensured that I did not need to eat for several days after…… What a meal!!! Salty, juicy, crunchy crackling skin that would make my nana envious…. the pork meat easily broke away from the bone and the buttery potatoes soaked up the melting pork juices….. I could go on….
We dined and laughed with our fellow Aussie expats who drove us here for the excursion and then made friends with one of our chefs who proudly showed us how he had cooked our meals…. in this:
The entire cooking set up was impressive, as was the restaurant which had a traditional Spanish feel and judging by the black and white photos displayed on the walls, had not been updated or ‘modernised’…well ever….. which is a good thing! It was nice, warm, cosy and the staff were friendly and it didn’t bother them or us that we could not speak well in each other’s language.
But again I am back to the issue of tea! At the end of the meal – when you want to be sociable and have a coffee and discuss how much we enjoyed our food, the weather, the village, Spain…… (the endless list of being a sociable expat), I always become unstuck.
Because I don’t drink coffee!
I love the smell – but it just makes me feel ill……. I know, I know I can hear you all cursing my poor taste.
And so a I hesitantly order a tea with milk. Té con leche por favor.
The waitress looked at me puzzled….
Té? She asked.
Si I responded. Con leche frio…. with cold milk.
And here was my mistake.
The coffee came back to the table – smelling wonderful (damn you sensitive to coffee stomach) alongside my cup of cold milk with a green tea tea-bag floating miserably in the top.
If only I could get Spain to adapt to this one British nuance!