Friday, December 11, 2009

Salmorejo success 9/07/09

Yesterday went well. Lots of people came to eat and it all went well. I took the orders mostly and chatted with all the customers, advising things, recommending the specials, welcoming back previous customers. I brought up the salmorejo for people to try. It is the quintessential summer tapa in Andalusia, but when you describe it (basically, it is a cold tomato soup – we call it a vellutata di pomodori to try and entice the customers), it doesn’t sound very exciting. You have to have tried it in the heat of a scorching Andalusian summer, or Sicilian sun, to realise how wonderful it is. Imagine the burst of flavour of a kilo of sweet Sicilian tomatoes blended with a little garlic and onion, finest olive oil and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. In Cordoba they sometimes serve it with icecubes in the middle to chill it even further, and diced jamon Serrano or boiled egg in the centre to garnish. We had to give up on that though because the aiuto cuoco simply can’t chop the ham fine enough, and the others thought that the egg wouldn’t be appreciated.

There is a sweet couple of pharmacists who keep returning, and the boat people came back, the captain and his crew. They are on a beautiful galleon for the summer, taking people on trips to the Aeolian islands and to the Amalfi coast, Greece and Sardinia. The girl said it had been three weeks since she set foot on land! They came back for the gnocchi pachamama, they said. They enjoyed the salmorejo too. Also another large table of 6 enjoyed it; I sent up a terrine because the girl was studying Spanish - they said they loved it and wanted more next time! Also a lovely couple from Messina who remembered it being a pub and had left their 5 year old with the nonni and were having a romantic evening together. Four from Barcellona, the next town, who had first and second courses, at last people who eat properly, desserts and two bottles of wine. With the economic crisis people tend to order a plate of pasta between two, or just one antipasto and one second course between two …

It was nice to see the uncle and aunt on the beach. Had a good conversation with them, they were sympathetic and asked me what I thought of things here etc. Aunt said she had never managed in 30 years to make friends here. They sympathised with the difficulties of moving to this provincial town and adapting to the Sicilian mentality. The way things (don’t) work here. But note that they live in Amsterdam, the aunt’s home town. Sicily wasn’t for them. But the uncle was positive, he said it is just an experience and it is for you to be together and every experience is good. Don’t look at it as an end but rather as a beginning to be together and plan together and then go on from there. They were here to celebrate the 87th birthday of the nonno (paternal) last night. All the cousins were there and kids, it was quite a party. The nonno saluted me raising his glass of local wine.


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