The Mediterranean Cruise (Part 11 of 13)

Episode 9 Barcelona

The Zurich airport is just as messy as the one in Frankfurt. The walking is long from end to end. This airport also has a subway connecting different terminals like the one in Hong Kong. If you have to do connection here, please allow yourself ample time.

Barcelona sits in the region of Cataluña. The Spanish have some strong features of their own but they are more on the rustic side. Again, economy is not too successful and the country is struggling. Tourism is still very promising.

Barcelona is very much related to the sea. The buildings are mostly Gothic style. We did our usual tourist thing. Barcelona is proud of Picasso and Gaudi yet I was not in favour of such. Both of these gentlemen were usual thinkers and that would be it.

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Gaudi gave the Parc Gruel and the unfinished church. Business wise he was a failure. He started a housing complex but only sold one. He designed the church which had been building for 200 years and never got finished. If you look at both projects closely, Gaudi only knows waves. He is great with his wavy motion and snake curves.

Picasso was great to introduce a new style of painting but his style is still not being well accepted even till to-day.

I know nothing but I speak the truth.

Lunch at La Rambla

Spanish food is very famous for its rice (paella) and its seafood. The acorn fed black foot hog brought their ham to the epitome of taste. Tapas has to rule over everything in a category by itself.

Paella might not agree with everybody since it is rice done in the el dante style. People who are used to wholly cooked rice find them gritty and hard to swallow.  The ingredients that go in a paella are prolific. Squid ink can also be one of the ingredients that blessed this famous dish. Cooking paella takes time – just like risotto with the Italians. The saffron has this unusually bright color and aroma that when you look at this dish, you are looking at the sun, cheerful, embracing and inviting.

The ham, Jamon, can come from different regions and they are all named accordingly. This ham is from the hogs raised by feeding them with acorn. The meat and fat distribution is layered at a perfect balance of taste. The meat stands, restaurants, delicatessens in Spain has display of ham legs and they will slice them right in front of you to make sandwiches. The ham tastes not salty like the Italian prosciutto and the flavour is more lingering. In Europe this is a very popular small sandwich made from finger like baguettes. This is all you have to do. Put the ham slices inside this baguette and you have instant success.

Tapas by far is a very misunderstanding dish. They are snack items that give identity to food places. It is kind of signature item. May they be a special olive marinated in a special infusion, or it can be a special meatball with special cooking technique, they are all so adorable and can stand by itself through time. All these food are lined up in small dishes and they adorn the food counters.

At first thought, it might be simple and cheap but if you have to count the number of dishes you devour on the average of a few Euros each, then it would amount to a rather substantial amount. This is a typical example of “you pay for what you eat”.

The Spanish also make a kind of pasta with squid ink and it is black in color. I did not have the chance to taste that.

We walked into this dingy looking restaurant which was clamping and small. Lucky enough the server spoke English. We were introduced to the unique dishes of Spanish. The broad beans, the vermicelli, and most of all the cod fish – bacaloa.

The cod fish is a dried, salty fish fillet. They have to be soaked in water for a long time to get rid of the salt. Then they can mashed down to make fillings or serve by itself.
There are different varieties to prepare the cod fish, amongst them are Bacaloa con tomate, cod fish with honey sauce, cod fish au gratin with spinach and cream. The amazing thing was, if they don’t tell you, you will never know it is dried salty fish.

La Rambla is a boulevard which is decorated by little shops selling different things. There are fresh flower stands which were arranged in such a pretty pattern that you cannot help but fall in love with them. We took a side turn from La Rambla and we ended up in a courtyard of an old building served as a market nowadays. But the market is so clean and bright. Even the seafood stands are in their glory showing off the freshness of their seafood. You can spend a whole day there and explore the different food stands.

I am still missing the flamingo dancers and bull fight. Spain no longer allows bull fight and the commercial flamingo dance halls are not to our liking. I want to watch some authentic, struggling artist performing at the street corner. May be we have to skip this event and wait till the next visit.

We were warned of the Spanish pick-pockets time after time but yet we did not see too many gypsies. May be we were the lucky bunch.

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