Recently the euro has been much weaker against the pound, and since our state pensions are converted at the interbank rate before being paid into our Spanish bank, we have been enjoying a welcome bonus. So we have got into the habit of eating somewhere special most Saturday evenings. Last night we chose Oshun, a Japanese/Asian fusion restaurant (although the owner is from no farther east than Barcelona). Like our other much cherished Saturday destinations, it is a most unlikely restaurant for a village this size. But it's here, it is fantastic, and we love it. By village standards it's also pricey, so we don't love it too often. Last night, including cocktails while we read the menu and enjoyed the sunset, a bottle of good local red wine and a tip, set us back the princely sum of £82.
That bought us each a salad of warm scallops on a bed of mixed leaves, dried seaweed and a spicy Thai dressing as a starter. My wife then had the breast of chicken with a mild Thai curry sauce, beautifully presented in a tower of crisp, diced mango, courgette and pineapple, a layer of soft, sauteed potato and topped by sprouted seeds. My main course, assembled in a very similar manner was seared duck breast, sliced and served with red and black currants, and a reduction of a local dessert wine.
This is my duck. Doesn't it make your mouth water?
Sometime during the night of 11th August 1936, at km4 on the road from Sevilla to Carmona, Francoist forces summarily executed Blas Infante Pérez de Vargas. This is a name unknown to most non-Spaniards, and I suspect to the majority of Spaniards not from Andalucía. Within Andalucía, on the other hand his name is so widely known that he is referred to simply as Blas Infante. A politician, writer and notary, he is considered to be the father of Andalucían nationalism (La Patria Andaluza). He designed the flag and coat of arms still used today by the autonomous community of Andalucía, and inspired the Andalucían anthem. His vision was not independence for the region, but recognition on an equal footing with other , more favoured regions. Today Spain is divided for regional government purposes into seventeen autonomous communities, of which Andalucía is the largest. It covers an area greater than that of Wales and Scotland combined, and even today feels as do those countries that it is remote from the central government and of little interest to the politicians in Madrid. To give an example or two of the disadvantage under which the region still struggles, unemployment in general and among young people in particular is the highest in Spain and on a par with levels in Greece. Also, figures show that health care professionals at all levels in Spain are paid less than in any of the other major EU countries; health care professionals in Andalucía are the lowest paid in Spain. The new democratic constitution which followed the death of Franco offered the opportunity for historic regions to be granted the status of ‘communidad autónoma’, with many powers devolved from Madrid. Andalucía was among the first to apply for autonomous status and is proud to have been the first to receive it. Even now, though, nearly forty years later the region continues to battle for an equitable treatment by the Madrid government. From abroad dissatisfaction is most often associated with Basque and more recently Catalan nationalism; the nationalism in our communidad is no less genuine but unlike the other two it is a nationalism which seeks expression within the Spanish nation, not as an independence movement. The dream continues and so at ten o’clock this evening, Andalucistas in Frigiliana will gather at the flag in the Parque de Andalucía to remember and respect the memory of Blas Infante. Andalucistas in cities, towns and villages across Andalucía will be doing likewise.
This is one of three blogs which I write, each on a totally different topic, and so for completeness, I have now posted links to them at the bottom of the page (My Blog List) in case anyone should be interested. There is actually a fourth blog which I started writing in Spanish but didn't keep up for very long. If ever I resurrect it, I'll put a link in that box too.
At the end of this month we shall be enjoying the annual Festival of Three Cultures. When it was first launched, the Jeremiahs, nay-sayers and carpers had a field day. The village was too small to host the kind of event that was planned. The village couldn't afford it; indeed they were way overspent and it hadn't even started. It was a vanity project, pure and simple for the Ayuntamiento. A disaster waiting to happen. Well year after year it has gone from strength to strength and this year we host the 10th annual Festival de Las Tres Culturas. Over the four days from 27th to 30th August, the organisers confidently expect that we shall attract more than forty thousand visitors to take part. This figure is achievable due in no small part to the quality of the concerts staged each evening. Past attractions have included the flamenco-rock band Radio Tarifa which had a huge following throughout Spain and beyond. In similar vein a couple of years we had Luar Na Lubre, a well-known Galician Celtic band. This year we step up to the mark again. The Sunday night concert which closes the festival will be by French-born, but of Spanish origin Manu Chao and his band, Radio Bemba. The group enjoy considerable success across Europe and indeed they are currently on tour around Europe; their only gig in Spain is here in Frigiliana. Tickets have gone on sale across Spain, and the concert will take place in the football stadium which has a capacity of 5,000. In addition we will have the Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Band, Carmen Paris, classical and Arab music; something for everyone. So much for the moaners and malcontents!