Wacky and pragmatic in Barcelona
BARCELONA, April 10 — Spring beckons, and it beckons so persuasively, languidly… the domino kings are at it again, ever so faithful to their preferred game of dominos on the beach in Barceloneta, by the edge of the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.
This game is only complete with ice-cold Damm beer and charcoal-grilled sardines. Life is sweet. For me, as well as for fishermen and those who live off the sea, it’s tenderly called la mar (in feminine), as opposed to the more prosaic masculine term el mar. The “feminine” sea embraces you in her bosom, showers you with abundance, hope and joy and expects very little in return. Just respect for her mercurial moods. Still, the sea by Barceloneta is relatively tame and benign, offering wannabe surfers just a wave or two to ride upon. No great shakes.
La Pallaresa, this famous granja in the Gothic Quarter, has begun offering smaller cups of either plain thick chocolate or the Suizo (thick chocolate with generous lashings of cream). All the better, but we couldn’t help wolfing down our churros while warm, dunking them in the cups greedily.This morning walk in March has me yearning for chocolate y churros (sort of like fried devils, sprinkled with sugar). We notice since the crisis began, even
The weather can get wacky though, and people are a little more on edge because of hard times. Barcelona remains a top destination amongst the Japanese, Chinese, Malaysians, Americans and Europeans in general. So if you’re planning to visit, bear this in mind: don’t bring along your bling blings, dress in an understated way, keep your valuables always in front of you and not in outer pockets if possible. Petty criminals generally don’t target locals, but once they spot someone with that lovely Prada ostrich tote bag or the Rolex Sky-Dweller, then that’s a sure giveaway.
Just yesterday, as I was going home in the metro after a session at the Club Marítim gym in Vila Olímpica, I caught the gaze of a man standing in front of me, waving away another man behind me as I got ready to step out on the platform. I usually don’t look strangers in the eye in respect of their personal space, but this time, my senses were heightened to danger.
Perhaps it’s due to seeing too many petty crimes in hotspots. Nonetheless, as in any other place of enchantment, you grow savvy and keep away or just don’t wear that beautiful necklace your mum gave you. It’s not worth it. Just wear it to your local TTDI wet market, at home, and in company of people who can protect you.
Coming back to this beautiful spring day, I head off to David’s, who sells the best beef and succulent lamb in the Santa Caterina Market in El Borne, a bohemian little barrio. I won his admiration when, upon hearing banter about being courageous, I chipped in: “Me siento muy española David. Comí, en Granada, huevos revueltos con sesos y %$&%$/! de cordero.” (I feel so Spanish, David. I ate in Granada scrambled eggs with lamb’s brains and testicles.)
David squirmed in admiration and repeated what I said in Catalán to his assistant. She looks wide-eyed at me and they both say they’ve never ever eaten this delicacy. Neither will they ever. I shan’t repeat that feat, feeling that anyway we all ingest such delicacies in sausages and hamburgers anyway. Mm…mmm.
Lunch this glorious day in spring is a more sober but delish scrambled eggs stacked with potato wedges and shavings of glistening Iberian ham at Alsur Café on calle Carders in El Borne. Almost, like char koay teow! Down it all with a passionfruit tea and I’m at peace with the world.
What else is cool in Barcelona? Well, watching uncles, aunties and hotties getting fit by the beach. What’s cooler? Porktie, Barcelona’s Magazine for English Speakers.
* Sue is a Malaysian writer based in Barcelona, Spain. She can be reached at [email protected]