Hooray! I have a new illustration on They Draw and Cook!
I developed a real liking for this “Kewpie brand” mayo when I lived in Japan. You can buy it in Barcelona but only at the hefty price of 7 Euros! Those who want to try and make it themselves can use this recipe which was based on a one I found at Chef’s Armoury Blog.
Here is an excerpt from my latest Metropolitan column-
“A multi-cultural background is a blessing but it can be quite confusing around this time of year. At home, I talk to Nico and Luca about Santa Claus (called ‘Papa Noel’ in these parts), while in his class, Nico has been busy constructing Los Reyes Magos (the three ‘magic kings’ who leave presents for Spanish children on January 6th) out of Play-Doh. In the meantime, his Colombian grandmother asks him what he hopes ‘El Niño Jesus’ will bring him, and at school all the kids can’t stop talking about a pooping log.
This year, Nico has given into local pressure and has insisted we have our own cagatió. To be honest, I resisted the idea. I have enough trouble keeping up the pretense of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the almost bi-monthly appearance of either the Tooth Fairy or the Ratoncito Pérez, without having to also remember to feed a log every night. Also, at first I thought he was just using it as a ploy to get more holiday booty. But it turns out that he really believes. I mean he really, really believes that this log is real. He speaks to it in Catalan every night (worried that all the English around our house might induce constipation) and religiously leaves it prunes to snack on.
When I ventured to suggest that perhaps the log was just a fun tradition and not an actual living log, he exploded with indignation. “He IS real! At school last year I saw it! He talked and his face even turned red while he was making the presents!” Good lord! Am I going to have to hire a ventriloquist and a lighting technician for this operation?
At this point, I’m just thanking my lucky stars that the idea of the Three Kings hasn’t made much of a dent in Nico’s head so at least I don’t have to worry about a bunch of camels trouping through my house come January 6th.”
My co-Thanksgiving dinner producers (their names are Danielle and Matthew) called me crazy but it turns out that the Catalans really love canned cranberry jelly. Who knew? (ME that’s who!). I insisted on buying three cans and although no one thought we’d even get through one, we polished off two.
Preparations. Note the Bimbo bread in the background.
Slicing the cranberry sauce.
I know what you’re thinking. Danielle’s kitchen is kind of crazy. Welcome to Spain circa 1972.
Sadly, the pumpkin pie was greeted with much more suspicion and was left largely untouched. However, we predicted this would happen and because of this, I also made a pumpkin cheesecake which was decidedly more popular. All our guests needed to hear was the word “cheesecake” and they dug right in, more or less oblivious to the fact that we’d just tricked them into eating pumpkin in a dessert. I like to think of that cheesecake as a gateway drug of sorts. Every year we’ll put a bit more pumpkin and a bit less cream cheese and who knows, maybe by 2018, the people of Spain will be gobbling pumpkin pie with the best of us!
We had fascinating guests and scintillating multilingual conversations (note unfinished pumpkin pie- even Paco looks indifferent).
Here is Danielle’s husband Tono with one of our turkeys. He is not a native English speaker. He liked the “stuff” inside the turkey and he especially loved the delicious sauce that we put on the mashed potatoes. You know, that sauce called “grimsby.” “Well,” I told him, “stuff and grimsby are an essential part of any Thankgiving dinner.” Am I right or am I right?
We were very proud. Happy Thanksgiving!
You know you’re living in Barcelona when literally a third of the people in your phone contact list are named either Jordi, Marta or Mireia. When another third are named Sonia or Ana, then you’re in trouble. Inappropriate text messages may be sent. Just an observation I made to myself this morning.
Anyway, because we’ve lived abraod for so long, we’re fairly sporadic in celebrating Thanksgiving. However, this year my two American friends and I are making the real deal including TWO turkeys (not because we have so many people but because ovens in Spain are too small to fit a regular American-sized bird), two different kind of stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pie, etc.! Since most of the invitees are from here, this means we’ve got a lot of pumpkin pie virgins to contend with. We have considered making them dress up as Indians (we’d be the pilgrims of course, or would it be the other way around?), but we decided they’re going to have enough trouble just wrapping their heads around an entire holiday meal that doesn’t include anything made with olive oil, squid ink or codfish. Do you remember how I told you about my Halloween party at which all the children in Nico’s class devoured the olives stuffed with anchovies but refused to touch the candy corn? Enough said. Besides, I have a nice case of conjunctivitis so the disease-spreading portion of the festivities is already taken care of.
I wrote a bit about the concept of being grateful for this week’s Family Matters column. Here is an excerpt:
“Lately I’ve been trying to talk to Nico and Luca about how grateful we should be for all the good things we have in our lives. One reason for this is that Thanksgiving is coming up and I’m trying to highlight the concept.
After years of struggling to get good photos of my kids, I’ve finally learned that all you need to do is get some large contruction pipes and tell them to go to town.
We found these on the Carretera de las Aigues. For those of you who don’t know of it, it’s a long road that overlooks the city of Barcelona, perfect for riding bikes or taking a walk.
I’ve always loved the Fisher Price Little People!
Also, Nico needs a haircut and I wrote about it this week for Family Matters. Here’s an excerpt but you can read the rest here!
“Unfortunately, despite having lived in Spain for four years, I still haven’t succeeded in finding somebody who can reliably cut his hair without making him look like either Joan of Arc, or else a child who had a bowl stuck on his head in a lop-sided fashion before having the hair that stuck out unceremoniously hacked off with a pair of gardening shears. Granted, there have been successes but for the most part, I haven’t yet figured out a way to explain that I want a simple “bowl hair cut” without having it be wildly misinterpreted. And yes, I do know how to say it in Spanish- corte de tazón or corte de hongo. There is even a Spanish-language Wikipedia entry for this particular haircut (featuring the singer Rihanna of all people).
Now where was I? Oh yes, so what to do? Go in and ask the hairdresser to cut my son’s hair just like Rihanna’s? My husband is actually pretty adept at trimming Nico’s bangs but the kid’s hair is so straight that it really does require a professional to do the rest. Unfortunately, you can only cut the front, but not the sides and back, of a little blond kid’s hair once or twice, before he begins to resemble Brian Jones (Google it, you’ll see exactly what I mean)…”