Thursday, December 20, 2007

Just in case anyone suffered apoplexy at yesterday’s report that the government was going to relax the much-abused abortion law, I should say the Prime Minister has corrected this perception. He’s now stressed he’s only calling for a debate and that there’ll be nothing in the party’s manifesto by way of proposals. So the current score is:-
Women in the cabinet 1 : Cabinet members afraid of Catholic backlash 2

Taking my morning coffee yesterday, I witnessed the Spanish ritual of El Baile de la Cuenta [The Dance of the Bill]. This takes place when two Spaniards approach the bar and then almost come to fisticuffs over who’ll pay for the drinks. I can’t pretend to know the rules – assuming there are any – but it’s my impression that the first person to get his money out never ends up paying. Worth knowing, perhaps.

Galicia Facts

There was a short dialogue a few weeks ago with readers on the subject of Galician cider. Well, I’m delighted to report that – after battling through boxes of the Asturian stuff - I was yesterday able to buy a bottle of Sidra Extra Manzanova. And not only is it ecologica but I also got a free thermal sleeve with it.

Here in Galicia, my life is regularly brightened by reading the thoughts of a certain type of cove who thinks everything here began and ended with the Celts. As I’ve said a few times, I’ve no problem with this harmless attempt to differentiate Galicia from the rest of Spain and to associate it with Ireland, Brittany and Cornwall. But it does occasionally reach preposterous levels. As an example, here’s a quote from the Cuisine section of the Wikipedia page on Galicia:- Galician cuisine often employs fish and shellfish. The ‘empanada’ is meat or fish pie. It has Celtic influence. I can’t tell whether this last comment applies to the whole of our food or just the empanada, which is usually said to resemble a Cornish pasty. Though it doesn’t really. Either way, how on earth does anyone know? Are there letters home from later Romans, Visigoths and/or Arabs saying how delighted the writer is to have stumbled across a Celtic cookbook? And even if there are, who’s to say the bloody recipes weren’t developed by whoever it was populated the place before the Celts? I may, of course, be entirely wrong about this and, if evidence is available to prove the contention that some or all Galician cuisine is of Celtic origin, I will happily eat a huge slice of humble pie. Which, by the way, should be called ‘umble pie’ and which very definitely is a delicacy which the Celts enjoyed. Trust me; I’m an ex lawyer.

Of course, the other type of cove who amuses me is the one who screams that absolutely nothing in Galicia can have anything to do with the Arabs, as they never came here. Except to sack the city of Santiago in 997, of course. And to leave us with a few suspicious place-names.


Duardón de Albaredo said...

”The dance of the bill”.

Colin, tbere is only one rule: invite and be invited. I like this trait. Who doesn't? The cheap bastards? It's all about generosity. Anyway, I get your point: many times it is kafkaesque. It is a mere social ritual though. I have witnessed this scene many many times (mostly in Galicia, by the way). And of course, I always try to pay the first one. Honest.

The other side of the coin: four guys are going out (usually young ones: therefore less money, my point). Let´s say they will be drinking 4 rounds and that every guy has money for only 4 rounds. If one of them pays the first round... poof... his money is gone... Is this a problem? They DO think it is indeed a problem: “holy shit, no money at all now! I can’t drink a second round”. But this miserable reasoning implies one thing and only one thing... You do not trust the other guys... In a “normal” world you should know that a) you paid one round, b) three free rounds will be coming... The next obvious question should be: why in the world are you going out with these cheap bastards?? Houston, we have a problem...

Suffice to say that like 12 years ago we were in a [agro] festa in another small village close to our. Accordion guy, etc. The festa was in theory a huge failure because there were only like 15 persons... I only had money for 2 rounds (and we were 3). Well, then that fantastic night I drank 18 cubalibres and 10 beers... Free rounds were coming from everywhere (I even had 3 rounds in front of me!)... Oh, and also know that I did not know the other 12 guys (one of us did -- a neighbour in our small village). That’s the true spirit, Colin. As for the accordion guy, no one noticed the poor soul methinks... since we all were too busy in the “agro bar”, in the middle of the pasture. The four young guys of my previous example would have been mere aliens in that gross debauchery. For all I care, their presence would have been surrealistic... Counting their miserable coins in their pathetic corner.

As for the cider, humm, I don't think it is as typical in Galicia as in Asturias. Not even close... Another contributor said his father affirmed cider was as popular as in Asturias (on the past). Now in general this is true: in Spain cider is more popular in Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Basque Country (the north of the country that is). But it is truly traditional only in Asturias and Basque Country. In Galicia we already have our own national, traditional drink: it is called “augardente”. It is made in almost every Galician village. Just like cider in Asturias and Basque Country. I mean, if that statement was true, there should be many cider private producers, and there are none, simple facts.

Colin said...

Many thanks for this detailed account of how things are/were done. By coincidence, there is an article in a British paper on this subject today .

I fear I am in the (ex)lawyer camp . . .

Duardón de Albaredo said...

"People earning above the average are the least likely to buy a round of drinks, researchers claim in a report released yesterday"

Guess what, Colin...? I always suspected this... So someone has tried to analyse this "theory". Interesting. Thank you.