In The Garlic Reloaded: El Desayuno

Posted on September 1st, 2015 by Valerie

Desayuno The Spanish don’t really do breakfast. Not at home. El Segundo Desayuno, the Second Breakfast, however, is another story. Crucial to the smooth running of the country, this is when office workers, bank managers and bricklayers recargan las pilas (charge their batteries) after having dashed out of the house at 7am and crawled in traffic for an hour on a cup of reheated coffee and a stale madalena (fairy cake minus the wings). Just never try to buy a stamp or arrange a mortgage between nine and 11 in the morning. If you get fed up with queueing for said stamp or mortgage, you can always nip into the nearest bar and join said office workers, bank managers and bricklayers as they tuck into double cafés con leche, glasses of brandy or anisette, and toasted rolls the size of small torpedoes drizzled in garlic oil, rubbed with tomato, stuffed with ham and cheese and bacon, or topped with delights such as sobrasada (bright red spicy sausage spread) or manteca colorá con tropezones (bright orange pork dripping with lumps of fatty pork sticking out of it). On the other hand, you might just prefer a plain old cruasán (official don’t-want-all-these-bloody-foreign-words-in-our-language spelling of croissant).

From: In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain by Valerie Collins and Theresa O’Shea

New edition coming soon.







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Summer drinks Nº4 Granizado

Posted on July 23rd, 2013 by admin

Mmm, granizado, literally a hailstorm; but in fact, a Slush Puppy-type drink that consists of crushed ice drenched in sweetened coffee or lemony syrup. It’s a great favourite with kids and kids at heart, keeping them/us entertained for ages as they/we burst their/our eardrums vacuuming up every last drop of sweetness from the remaining ice – and annoy the hell out of everyone within earshot with their/our seriously earnest slurping.

The granizado machines (you know, like those old-fashioned plastic tanks filled with posh squash) usually come out of hibernation around June and last until the kids go back to school mid-September. To make natural lemon granizado: melt 100g of sugar in half a litre of water, mix in the juice of half a dozen lemons, freeze until nearly frozen, then let the food mixer do the rest.

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Café con hielo: DIY-style

Posted on July 14th, 2013 by admin

You’d think that ordering an iced coffee would be a simple affair.

Café con hielo in Spain comes like this: a double espresso cup of coffee, a long tall glass or a short fat glass with lots of ice, a spoon, and 9,000 bags of sugar. You – not the bar person – stir in the sugar and then pour the coffee over the ice,  into the saucer, over the counter and all down your new top.  Slinging in the boiling coffee without doing any damage is just one of those things that everyone else seems to be able to do effortlessly.

Should you want a milky iced coffee  (not typical here) you need to order “café con hielo con la leche aparte” (with milk on the side). Do stress that you want leche fría, cold milk, or you end up with not so much an iced drink as vaguely coffee-tasting water.

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Summer drinks Nº2 – Sangría

Posted on July 8th, 2013 by admin

Sangría (pronounced sanGREEya) shot to fame as the quintessentially Spanish drink after it was served at the Spanish pavilion in the1964 World Fair in New York. Apparently, though, it was the British and the French who first drank a punch called  “sangaree” or “sang gris” in the Antilles colonies in the 17th century.

Oh well, history matters not a jot when you’re sitting out on a sunny terrace and you order a large jug of this refreshing mix of sweetened red wine, lemonade, fruit and ice. Oranges, lemons, apples, grapes, peaches, just about any fruit can be added, and most sangrías worth the restaurant prices also contain a healthy measure of a liquor such as brandy, Cointreau or Triple Sec.

No two sangrías will ever taste the same. Especially at parties, where whatever spirits are to hand end up in the plastic bucket / bin / washing-up bowl. The longer the fruit macerates the tastier and headier the hooch. And the worse the hangover.

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Tinto de verano

Posted on July 6th, 2013 by admin

Summer’s here and the time is right for sipping and slugging lots and lots of chilled drinks to beat the heat.  Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be tempting you with some of the best. Kicking off today with the ubiquitous tinto de verano.

A lighter version of sangría, perfect for a summer’s day. Hence the name: red summer wine. If you’re ordering just for yourself, the barperson will throw a slice of lemon and a couple of yogurt pot-sized ice cubes into either a long glass or, better still, a goldfish-bowl on a stem, fill it half way with blackcurranty wine and top it up with gaseosa – a wonderfully just-sweet lemonade ultra-low in calories. If you’re with a group, they’ll bring an ice-filled jug, a bottle of red wine and a bottle of Casera (the most well-known make of gaseosa) and you’ll fix your own brew.

Sometimes you’ll be asked: “Con limón o Casera?” Or in some parts of Andalucía (and elsewhere?) “Con limón o con blanco?” The fizzy lemon is sweeter and, er, fizzier, so it takes longer to drink. Which can be a plus considering that in the heat, a couple of long swigs and it’s gone. Tinto de verano also comes on tap, but like all ready mixes it’s a pale imitation of the real thing – and so unnecessary.

Another fizzy red wine drink is calimocho (from the Basque Kalimotxo), a lethal mix of red wine and coca-cola much favoured among Spanish youf. Too much of this on a hot summer’s day and you’d probably end up in the ICU or the UCI, depending which language you go with.

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