When it rains, fish will appear, part 12 the Shandy bar

Door San Daniel gepubliceerd in Verhalen en Poëzie

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My old jalopy came to a standstill outside the Shandy bar, which is located in the middle of the village next to the big square in front of the town hall. The fields were covered with frost and I would have to wait until the sun had come out before I could get to work. The Shandy used to be 'bar Castijon'. Then an English couple had taken over the bar, Sharon and Andy, and the name had been changed to the merging of their names. It had ended poorly for them. They did not integrate and did not speak Spanish, then you are out of place in a mainly Spanish village. Out of curiosity the farmers had gone passed Shandy for the first time, but they quickly found the way to one of the other 5 Spanish bars in our village.

How is it possible that people from the North follow such distorted dreams? That you always think that you can start a camping in a foreign country without knowing anything of the region, or a bed and breakfast, for which there is no need or that you can run a bar in a Spanish village without speaking the language.

In Andalusia you have a tapa more often than not with your drink. Tapar is the Spanish verb 'to close' and the snacks you get are served on small saucers that were previously placed on your glass. Nowadays a tapa, like the little snacks are now called, are placed next to your glass. It was handy to have 'the lid' on your wine or beer to keep the flies out and people in Andalusia simply always eat something while drinking. Often the tapa is already included in the price of the drink.

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People from the region are used to the tapas that traditionally existed here. Pigs trotters, for example, which are still very recognizable as a pig's trotter. It is not my thing, I always have a picture of manure stables through which our four-legged friends have plowed. My neighbors farmers have a different attitude, they think it is a treat and everything is gnawed and sucked away right to the gelatin between the hoofs.

Another authentic delicacy are pig brains. You don't want to touch it. It is clear now I suppose, that many pigs are slaughtered in Andalusia. I like to take a tapa called tostada. A toasted piece of bread, tuna and tomatoes soaked in olive oil. Oh well, each to his own, I suppose.

If you seriously think, without any experience that you can make it in the catering industry, you have already made a grave mistake. If you do not speak the language and you have no idea how to make the usual local tapas that we are accustomed to, then you might as well go home. That is what happened, Sharon and Andy disappeared just as quickly from the village as they had come and the only thing that remained as a memory is the name of the bar.

Actually that is quite sad, something out of the boulevard of broken dreams. No goodwill from the next owner, because what goodwill would you have if there are no customers? Just bankrupt,  and so they left with the Northern sun after their savings had evaporated.

I stepped into the Shandy's and it was crowded even in the early hours, the TV was blurting news out something that every Spanish bar had and the men were taking their first coffee before they'd go to work. Kristina the new owner of Shandy knew her business, she opened every day at 6 o'clock in the morning and thus had all the patronage of those who take their first coffee.

"Hola San," it sounded when I came in. Hola sounds like Ola from the famous ice cream brand and means 'hi'.The 'H' is silent in spanish.  "Buenas," I replied, and as I passed to the bar I shook hands or tapped a shoulder, which is common in Andalusia. Greetings are common and often physical in nature. Always a hand on your shoulder, a nod or a smile in passing. If that does not happen, then something is wrong.

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Kristina had already seen me come in and she turned on the expresso device that would burp out a cafe solo. Strong pure tarlike coffee. Coffee that makes your eyes spread wide at the first swallow and your stomach contract. Two friends stepped a little aside and I was standing at the bar, three men from the village. The room saw blue of the smoke because even though there are European laws about smoking in public areas, smoking is just not going to stop in Andalucia.

Our beautiful Andalusia is a quirky region. People do not allow themselves to be patronized, and although I do not smoke myself, I have found peace with the fact that the smoking behavior of my friends is not going to change, and bar owners want to keep their patronage and happily smoke along.

'Buenas,' Kissy kissy greeted me, a nickname that had started as a joke but had stuck to Kristina. "Hola Kissy," I replied as she put down my coffee. She knew every customer and the habits that belonged that went with that customer. She already came with the bottle of 'ponche' and poured a small lemonade glass ponche. "Gracias," I said, bringing the coffee to my lips and taking a sip, then topping the cup up with ponche. The brandy immediately cooled the coffee down and I sipped coffee and topped up the cup again with ponche untill both had disappeared.

'Otro mas,' 'one more', Pedro with the bull's neck asked me, who had been a good friend of mine for years and was standing next to me. 'It is cold today, we have to prepare ourselves well.' 'Yes,' I agreed, 'that's always important.' "the same gentlemen," Kissy kissy asked as she arrived with the ponche and with the Bareche bottle. I nodded and said "but only if I can pay." Pedro laughed, roaring, "pour it out," he shouted, and a moment later our glasses tapped each other and we said "Salud" almost simultaneously.

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The ponche in contrast to the barecha is a sweet cognac like drink. The Bareche is the local poison that burns its way through your esophagus to your stomach where it immediately tries to perforate your stomach wall. I saw the face of Pedro distort, 'the esophagus,' I thought, and I knew from the time when I myself would have a barecha that the second one was pleasant because your inner self had gone numb but the first one always  hurt. Pedro, whose shade alone was stronger than most men in the village, brought his hand to his stomach. "Pff," he said, "I'm ready, if one is not awake by now, they're dead."

I put some euros down and followed my old friend outside. I got into my car and realized how blessed we are in our village, I never had to lock my car. Just try that in Amsterdam. The day had begun ... and the fields waited for those who had enjoyed the first coffee.

also read part 13

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08/01/2019 18:54

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