23 December 2021: The Xmas lotteries; Spanish food; Modern ‘art’; & Another great list.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza

In a Wotsap group of Pontevedra friends, I was the only killjoy who declined to throw away 20 euros on one of Spain’s humungous Xmas lotteries. So, I was naturally interested in this article

Speak to 10 different Spanish food historians and you will likely be on the end of 10 different views as to who we should credit for originating and developing Spanish food. The link to the the article this para is taken from doesn’t work right now, so I’ve included the text below, sans fotos.

Talking of Spanish food, here’s a great recipe from Ian of Eye on Spain. Assuming you’re not vegetarian/vegan.

The UK  

Richard North today has a go at 2 of his favourite targets:-

1. Boris Johnson: One can afford a wry smile here as it is the push-back from “Partygate” and the recent “garden party” photograph – together with a Cabinet and backbench rebellion – which has prevented him from ordering new controls, purely on the basis that the public were increasingly minded to ignore them. Now, it looks as if he is getting the credit for not doing something that he couldn’t have done anyway. At least not in England; the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales have, in contrast, implemented new restrictions.

2.  The scientists: I’ve not forgotten that back in 1996, “respected” scientists were predicting 500,000 cases of vCJD [mad cow disease] and, a few years earlier, were claiming we would see a salmonella epidemic causing a million cases a year. Over the years, such scientists have had a very poor record for predicting the scale of current threats – including climate change – which is presumably why the likes of the Guardian insist that “the science is settled”, thereby seeking to shut down discussion on the increasingly absurd claims. Uncertainties, of course, will remain, but the biggest uncertainty of them all them all is the competence of the scientists who have so far been making the running on the management of this epidemic.

Encouraging Xmas news . . . The average Brit would need to walk 50 miles to burn off their Christmas dinner. Or they could set off on a six-hour Boxing Day jog to lose the 3,475 calories gained from the traditional meal. My guess is the challenge would be even greater in Galicia, taking into account the 2 huge meals 24-25 December. At least next door to me. Through a thin wall. . . 

The Way of the World

Thanks to my friend Andy for the news that the Turner Prize farce is as daft as ever. Here’s this year’s winner, proving that today’s definition of ‘art’ is: Anything which someone who claims to be an artist says is art.

Finally  . . . 

Another list. This time of some of the greatest insults from the time when upsetting someone wasn’t the most heinous crime you could commit. Taking over from being ‘judgmental’. Enjoy!:-

1. “He had delusions of adequacy ” Walter Kerr

2. “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”- Winston Churchill

3. “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure. – Clarence Darrow

4. “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”-William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

5. “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”- Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

6. “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

7. “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

8. “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde

 9. “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.”   -George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

10. “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response

11. “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here” – Stephen Bishop

12. “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright

13. “I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” – Irvin S. Cobb

 14. “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

 15. “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up. –  Paul Keating

16. “He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker

17.  “Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?” – Mark Twain

18. “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

19. “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde 

20. “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

21. “He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder

22. “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I’m afraid this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

23. The exchange between Winston Churchill & Lady Astor: She said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison.” He said, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

24. “He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.” – Abraham Lincoln

25. “There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure.” — Jack E.  Leonard

26. “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” —  Thomas Brackett Reed

27. “He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them.” — James Reston (about Richard Nixon)

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If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here.  thoughtsfromgalicia.com 


The Spanish Cook Book

Speak to 10 different Spanish food historians and you will likely be on the end of 10 different views as to who we should credit for originating and developing Spanish food.

Who had the greatest influence on the culinary delights of the country? The Phoenicians? The Romans? The Visigoths? The Moors?

Few acknowledged experts agree on anything. But there are significant times in history at which we can pin down those who played a role in the Spanish food we all enjoy today.

The Phoenicians were responsible for bringing us the olive – something we now take for granted when it comes to certain Spanish meals.

The Romans began exporting olive oil from Spain back home to Rome. They were also experts when it came to the still popular skill of preserving fish.

As long ago as the 8th century the Moors were cultivating apricots, quinces, almonds and pistachios. The word for orange (naranja) and carrot (zanahoria) have their roots in the language of the Moors.

And where would we be without the spices the Moors left behind? Where would Spanish cooking be without saffron (azafrán)?

The Moors and the Arabs can also take credit for certain herbs and fruits. The Arabs brought us the pomegranate (Granada), which itself gave its name to the great city of Granada in Andalucia.

The Arabs were busy trading with the Persians and that business led to rice and aubergines making their way to Spain from India, melons coming from Africa and the fantastic figs on offer in Spain today making the journey from Greece.

The Spanish today have a very sweet tooth but don’t blame them. They got that habit from the sweet foods introduced to Spain by the Moors. In cities such as Granada, where the Moorish influence remains prevalent, you can feast on lots of sweet pastries and desserts that have their origin in North Africa. Honey and almonds are often central ingredients to these tasty snacks.

In the 13th and 14th centuries it was the Spanish conquistadors who sailed home from the New World laden down with the likes of potatoes, beans, courgettes and peppers. To contemplate Spanish meals today without those ingredients is, frankly, inconceivable.

Spanish cookbooks can be traced back to the 14th century. They were written in Catalan. In 1324 the book Libre de Sent Sovi included recipes from Catalunya, and suggested cooking techniques.

Chocolate is often used in Spanish cooking and we have a gentleman called Hernán Cortés to thank for that. He brought chocolate to the country when he conquered Mexico, along with chillies, turkey, vanilla and tomatoes.

In the 19th-century olive oil took over from lard as a staple ingredient when it came to cooking Spanish food. Credit for that is often awarded to Angel Muro, whose 1894 cookbook El Practicón was much respected.

But it was the book called simply https://www.casadellibro.com/libro-1080-recetas-de-cocina/9788413621005/11757099“1080 recipes” by Simone Ortega in 1972 that became one of the first must-have cookbooks in Spanish kitchens. It still sells well today. More than 3 million copies have sold worldwide in the past 35 years and the book was translated into English as recently as 2007. However, it has become the backbone of Spanish home cooking and has helped more than any other book to spread Spanish food around the globe.

Now a vast number of Spanish cookbooks are found in the kitchens of homes all over the world.

Spanish food has evolved over the centuries. It really doesn’t matter who takes the credit for the past.

Just so long as it keeps tasting better with every passing year.