The Tapas Tradition

.I have heard a number of accounts of the origin of the tapa. I don't know which one is true,if any of them, so I'm not going to go into that. However, in a local online newsletter the other day, a lady posted quite a harsh criticism of a bar she had visited with friends. She complained that when they asked for tapas they were told that they could not have them outside, only at the bar.
So, for those of you heading down here for a visit, here are a couple of things you should know. Traditionally men would drop into their local bar after the day's work to share a drink or two and a chat with their friends. They would sit or stand at the bar. With their drink they would often be served a morsel of food - a tapa. After a couple of drinks they would head off home to eat.
Occasionally - very occasionally in the days I'm talking about - they would want something more substantial than the tapa. In that case they would sit down at a table and order a 'ración' ( a portion) or a 'media ración' (half portion) of whatever was available. A half portion is about the size of a starter, and a portion is equivalent to a main course.
So the lady was offended by a simple fact of life in a Spanish bar catering mainly for Spanish customers; you eat tapas at the bar and tables are for people who want something more substantial. Foreign owned bars and bars aimed at holiday makers may very well serve you with tapas wherever you sit, the Spanish probably won't.
Something else that is useful to know. If you order a drink and the owner or waiter brings you a tapa without being asked then it will be free. And if he brings you something with every drink, those too will be free. You will pay only for the drinks. Of course you are perfectly entitled to browse the tapas display and ask for whatever takes your fancy, but if you do that you will be charged for your tapas. It's no longer a gesture of hospitality; it's a purchase.
I hope you get to sample lots of tapas standing with the crowd at the bar.


Described By A Cake

Forty years ago we were living on a new estate in the northwest of England with our two small daughters. Next door were another couple, also with two daughters, though three or four years older than ours. The four children became firm friends and that friendship has continued down the years even though three of them have moved south. The fourth, and eldest, girl remained in the North, but through our own daughters we have kept a contact. One of the highlights of our recent stay in the UK was the opportunity for my wife to celebrate her seventieth birthday at a lunch for family and close friends. Which brings me back to Deb, the eldest of the four girls. One of her passions is making and decorating cakes, to which she brings a very high degree of skill and artistry. As two of our friends were travelling down from Lancashire, a thought occurred to me. I would ask Deb to produce a 70th birthday cake. But what should it be like? Here I drew on long unused market research skills, when I used to conduct what are now called focus groups, and in which you would ask people strange questions like, “If Gordon Brown were a car, what car would he be?” I emailed everyone on the invitation list and invited them to email Deb with their answers to the question, “If Mary were a came, what kind of cake would she be?”. Once Deb had had time to digest all the suggestions, a final brief was agreed, the cake was duly made, handed over to our friends to transport to Surrey - they tell me that at every service area stop on the journey down, they gingerly opened the boot of the car to make sure everything was OK - and smuggle into the restaurant where it was put on display ahead of everyone arriving. It came as a complete surprise to Mary and she was delighted with it. From the photo above, I guess you can see why.


Homeward Bound

Four weeks have flown by and on Sunday we head back home to Frigiliana. As you can imagine, it has been a real pleasure to spend an extended period with our granddaughters, one of whom moved up to secondary school on Wednesday. That was a prospect that she faced with some trepidation, but is now taking to like a duck to water, and is already making new friends. Of course as a secondary school pupil she has to have her smartphone - officially so that she can ring Mummy or Daddy if she has any problems, such as missing the school bus, but in reality so that she can join the texting generation; she was highly amused to tell me on Day 1 that she had spotted her friend Martha at the other side of the playground and had texted her to ask how she was, and then Martha texted back and asked where are you, so L texted again to say, “The other side of the yard, and I can see you from here.” We’ve also enjoyed a pretty good English August with temperatures in the low to mid twenties and only the occasional rainy day. That has allowed us to get a lot more exercise than is possible in Spain’s August heat, although that has inevitably been offset by the holiday spirit which involves eating and drink ing more than we would at home. Awaiting me in Spain is an outpatient’s appointment at the local hospital on Thursday and a meeting the following Monday across in Benalmádena at a hospice that I support. A team is to be assembled that will be available throughout the hospice catchment area to visit groups and talk about our work, what services are available and how we are funded. I’ve volunteered to be part of that team, and am really looking forward to it as in the past I’ve done many talks to various different types of growps in the UK about my work, both as a hypnotherapist and later as a magistrate. So I’ve a lot to look forward to, including of course, meeting up once more with friends in the village.