Today is Michael’s birthday, and we did our best to celebrate with him throughout the day. We visited a huge market in the Ruzafa section of town, which is more of a working-class zone that includes a wide variety of people. The evening found us at an American bar during “language” night, where the bar invites native English speakers to join tables with Spaniards and others who want to improve their conversational skills. The bar was ridiculously loud, but the interaction was a lot of fun! We also walked a little bit around the “new” part of town, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
While at the market, Michael and I purchased some paella for lunch, and it was excellent food for a street-side meal. We found a place to sit near a fountain and enjoyed a few minutes of peoplewatching. Even cold, paella is a very filling, satisfying dish. The yellow color prompted me to buy some saffron for my own cooking as well as some ground paprika, or pimiento, two spices that are Spanish staples for cooking.
We have found a few places worth visiting several times. The first is an incredible bakery run by a woman who can apparently read minds. She had us pegged from the beginning as good customers (Hasta mañana, no?) who were there to sample the delicious creations from her glass case, as well as the magical freezer off to the side. She had several chocolate Easter eggs that had been decorated as farm animals. They cracked me up!
Okay, lots to say on this one. Spain does not shy away from the human body, and their artwork shows it. While the people here are fairly modest in the street, the falla statues that we saw included a wide exposition of the human body, whether it was a children’s school falla or one produced by a neighborhood. The funniest things to me were the caricatures of people, especially women, with heaving bosoms, while some of the most beautiful fallas were nude or mostly so. Instead of being too vulgar, the caricatures appear as funny and whimsical, and sometimes unexpectedly artistic.
A couple of nights ago, I decided to finally try a delicious street-food offering, a buñelo. I am not a huge fan of buying food off the street, but wanted to know what the rage of eating fried dough was all about. I’ve never had a funnel cake or a fried snickers bar, and I imagine that buñelos are similar. Basically, a sweet mostly-liquid dough is squeezed by hand into a little loop that is dropped into a vat of hot oil. One flipping to brown both sides, a little sugar on top, and your buñelos are placed in a waxed-paper cone or bag for street-side munching. Pretty awesome, and now I understand why these little gems are even featured on the festival advertisements and on some of the fallas artwork.
Yep, that’s the buñelo there between the crazy clock and the hot-dog shaped thing. Let’s see… burning the fallas, setting off fireworks, staying up all night, eating buñelos and hot-dog-shaped-things, lots of music and flowers, and deranged days and nights. Pretty much sums up the festival!