October 26th, 2008


Day 2, Barcelona

Day 2 in Barcelona went fairly well. Julia tired out after the aquarium, and we were obliged to say goodbye and head with Jared to the Barri Gotic for lunch. Afterwards we hit the cathedral (generally not my style in any way), then said goodbye to Jared. (Do. I really have three times the energy of normal mortals?)

Given that the evening was to be just us, we chose to go to a Flamenco show at the Palau de Musica - three performers, starting at 9 PM. We went back to El Bixto for dinner at a quarter til midnight, and now, two glasses of Vino del Val - Ribera del Duero later, I am quite done for the night and ready to go home tomorrow morning. Too bad I can't sleep in.

Back from Barcelona (autumn version) - Proust is done!

Well, only two years after I started, I've finished all of Remembrance of Things Past (better called In Search of Lost Time) as I reached the big "The End" on page 358 of Time Regained. He spent the last 15-20 pages talking about how he was afraid he'd die before he finished his life work, and I was feeling like I was cheering him on as he was trying to race against his own bad health to get to the finish line. "You can do it, Marcel! In fact, you did it! We're all here waiting for you -- just a few more steps!"

It's really been a great read - I can't say it's changed my life, but in many ways it's changed how I perceived thing, and not just because I get jokes about madeleines, insomnia,and cork-lined rooms. The best bit has been this appreciation of really intense moments of timelessness, when everything around me comes together and I feel both so alive and so entirely out of time, like the things that are happening to me have always happen and will continue to happen and I'm just experiencing a tiny, perfect, repeatable moment in the endless sea of Time. Skies will cloud over, spring flowers will fade and fall, even I will be gone one day, but a perfect day in spring, or autumn, or summer, or winter, they will all happen again and in experiencing one perfect instant of them I am, in effect, experiencing them all. I know this sounds like some pretty serious hippie shit, but it does happen to me and it's Proust that made me recognize them (plus my sum total of other life experiences all welling up at the same time).

Sadly I haven't had any moments like this recently - they happen when they happen (and require a full dose of Be Here Now, which is sometimes in short supply for me). Instead I'll mention the rest of my day, as boring in its minutiae as ever, but an ongoing accretion of Things That Make Me Me.

1. Today's lesson: be aware of when the time changes are going to happen and make sure you set your alarm clock properly if you're travelling on that day. If this had been the spring changeover, I would have been screwed this morning. Instead, I got up too early (and yet still barely made it to the airport on time, no thanks to the Time Out guides shit transpo maps and poor information about getting to the airport).

2. Yummy new food item: "Secreto Catalan" (I think), which is a cut of pork from the back of the pig's neck - very buttery and soft. Incorrectly named food item: "Ensalada Fantasia," as my fantasies never involve a food item covered with thin slices of raw salmon. Yuck.

3. The flamenco concert was a lot of fun. El Capullo de Jerez was J's favorite of the evening, and likely mine (the other singer being Remedios Amaya, video of the two of them performing here, only when the egotistical "El Farruco," a dancer who was reminding me of a cross between Liberace and Michael Jackson, got his 10 year old son out there to cut the rug with him, I was so stupendously moved by his skill at such a young age (plus the whole "mini-me" thing going on, I kept laughing) that I stood up and cheered - with the rest of the Barcelonans. That said, listening to Capullo de Jerez singing these old songs with this backdrop of these creepy Art Nouveau maidens coming out of the walls behind him in the Palau de Musica was really something - it's like the ghosts were listening to him perform.

We brought home three bottles of booze, two bottles of cider, three bottles of wine, two new handpainted earthenware bowls for serving food in, and three packages of tea, so it was a pretty good haul for a weekend, and it was a nice and fairly relaxing time. We got in early (noon) and I've managed to not just get home but also get up the street to meet wechsler's sister (husband and baby too). Now I'm roasting up a chicken and I am hungry! There may have been a time change but my stomach thinks it's time to eat now. At least the cat is happy to have us home again.

Iron Chef Putney

I told wechsler I wanted to make a chicken or duck for dinner tonight, his pick (J is off at a meeting up north).

I came home to find a chicken, a lemon, and some garlic waiting for me. There was also some "lemon thyme" in a bag.

I dug around for inspiration ("What am I supposed to do with the thyme again?") and did this:

Wipe the thyme heavily (breaking bits off) on the chicken
Cut the lemon in quarters, squeeze most of the juice out, then shove the quarters into the chicken
Break off several cloves of garlic, peel (etc), then jam about six of them in little holes in the chicken, under the skin
Shove a giant clove of somewhat squished garlic in the chicken
Stuff half of the bunch of thyme in behind the lemons and jam another handful in the neck
Crumble some sea salt on the chicken
Heat honey in a pan, add the lemon juice, mix together and pour over the chicken, now sitting in a roasting pan (in my case an Emile Henri casserole dish)
Bake at 350/375 until thigh measures 175 (180 C for the oven, and I cooked with the fan on)

Conclusion: delicious. The honey glaze carmelized and made it all just perfect, and it looked fantastic. (Pan drippings went mostly black so there was no gravy to speak of, but I did make a bit more of the honey/lemon sauce and thinned it with the juice that came out of the bird while it was sitting on the platter.) I even pulled the wings off and ate them - they'd been soaking in the honey/lemon stuff for a long time and picked up OH! the best flavor.

Man, I sure wish I could have irrationalrobot and wordknitter for this sometime.
Sea dragon

I have finished the Proust

Wow, nearly two years since I started it ... I can't decide if I feel like I've just escaped my captor or if I feel like my best friend's just died ... more later when I have a proper internet connection.