Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So....the meals are all eaten...well, most of them. I may die of liver failure if I see another slice of foie. The Alfa is thrashed to within a whisper of its former self.......4,000 km at last count. It is easy to spot because it is covered with mud. They cancelled the East Africa Road Rally due to terrorism, but you would never know it to look at my car. And the weather has been nice!

We were struggling with the notion of "Why are we here?" To just not be "There"? To "Relax"? What is that like?

Like all good philosophers, we repaired to a bar to contemplate the questions.

The town is still shut down. First there was the fiesta on Sunday, which required closing all day Saturday, Sunday and Monday.....and then what the hell, why open on Tuesday, either? On top of this, Madrid Fusion is on....and every top chef in Spain is in Madrid, along with his and her crews. The coke dealers must be going mad!

We have an appointment tomorrow with one of the old dons of food in San Sebastian. We are trying to weasel our way into the yearly pintxo contest. Pintxos are what dumb tourists think are tapas. Every bar is carpeted with little ready made sandwiches that you breathe on while you drink new Rioja and wait for them to make something really cool in the back.

Amanda has the metabolism of a hummingbird....and can charge through the pintxos. Yesterday at lunch she downed nine without a breath.....sardine and olive, sardine and artichoke, bacalao quiche.....the whole gamut. The old farts at the bars are highly amused.

I had big plans to hit all these nice pintxo joints and restaurants yesterday.....all closed. We were resigned to normal town bar fare. Awww shucks, $400 a pound ham sandwiches again? And they cost a whole dollar? Damn. I guess I will just wash it down with another dollar glass of new wine.....

Then I noticed a display in the looked like really bad ceramic mushrooms....three or four porcelain platters of them. They were so beautiful that they could not be Carmel Bad Art Wave Paintings. Then I noticed some business guys eating from a plate of what appeared to be......grilled mushrooms. Huh.

Then the gnarly rugby lock barman brought out a basket of black chanterelles and started piling them on yet another platter. There were tons.....and they fell all over the counter and on the floor.

"Can we get a platter?"

No worries, mate.

Amanda went completely nuts and actually started dancing with joy. Six or seven different wild mushrooms, grilled on iron with a little olive oil. The old bear of a chef was completely amused and brought over his mushroom book. This is the low season.....normally they have fifteen or so varieties. Thomas Keller buys them for French Laundry.

The old guy was so amused he reached back in the back and brought out the real deal.....fresh truffles from Teruel.......900 euros a kilo. Amanda started to cry.....and I used my old line again:

"La diferencia entre "llorando" y "orando" es muy pequeña!"

The difference between "crying" and "praying" is very in one letter.

The old guy produced a dozen eggs he had been storing with some truffles, and made our girl scrambled eggs and fresh truffles....

Where did that early morning guilt go anyway?


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