Although I’ve not embarked on any exotic/personally enhancing vacations this weekend, my slow little weekend in Madrid has been excellent. Friday kicked it off right.
I never posted about it, but on the Eve of All Hallows, Amber (my friend and fellow TA at CP Vicálvaro) invited me to a party in Goya at the piso of her friend, Liz. Amber had been talking up Liz to me for weeks, claiming we’d get along smashingly and simply had to meet. It turns out this was true. The party was great, and Liz is as fun, sassy, and lovely a person as Amber had promised.
She gained about 45 awesome points when, after exchanging contact information on Wednesday, I received a text that said, among other things, “how would you like to go to a Wilco concert for free on Friday night?” And so it was.
Liz, with friends in high places, was able to get us onto the guest list, so we saw Wilco in a packed venue (the Riviera in Madrid), for free–plus the cost of a few drinks, of course. The number of gyrating, jumping, head-tossing, singing Spaniards was absolutely astounding. I think Liz and I had both expected to be in the company of a passel of American expats, not a full house of Spanish men. And yet: there they were! Hundreds upon hundreds of Spanish rock fans/hipsters, singing along to all the words of all the songs that came out of Jeff Tweedy’s mouth. Pretty cool, if unexpected.
I have to say that Wilco put on a great show. Energetic, musically tight as hell and impressively enthusiastic through ’til the end, they sound essentially the same in person as they do on their records which, I happen to think, is always an impressive feat. When they played “Jesus, etc.” I thought of, and missed, Ben, but didn’t get my shit together in time to record the song and send it the boy who introduced me to Wilco. So sad. Ah, well. I got a few photos, which will have to suffice. 🙂 Here’s one of the less shitty ones:
Maybe even better than the concert was the company. Meeting great new people is so exciting to me, and luckily the day was full of that. Before the Wilco concert, Liz and I exchanged a volley of emails in which she informed me of the Feria de Gastronomía in Plaza Santa Ana, and invited me to meet up with her and her friends at 3. I can never resist a fair that revolves around food, so naturally, I went. Liz’s friends, some of whom I’d met at the Halloween Party, were great, as was the fair itself. Here is a miniature feast for the eyes:
These baskets of herbs and spices are dealt out by the man you see behind the counter. Some are just spices, some are teas, and sometimes he makes an infusion custom fit to you, dependent upon your ailments or particular herbal hankering.
No Spanish culinary activity would be complete without a leg of jamón and a few hanks of chorizo. (shudder)
This little old woman in her Woodland-Creature-Delight booth was selling a few of my favorite things: big, thick slices of handmade turrón, pan de dátil, raisins, dried apricots, figs, dates, nuts and almonds covered in chocolate. I nearly lost my mind. To save it, I went home with a little portion of date cake. Mmm.
And here you see a variety of toothsome morsels, including turrón, almonds coated in various delicious substances, and of course, on the far side, almendras garrapiñadas, or, almonds coated in sugar and corny syrup, then burned in the thing you see below:
While delicious, the bag of almonds I purchased was nearly the death of me. Over the course of a few hours, I ate most of a (small) bag. That was a lot of sugar, and resultingly, a very queasy Caitlin.
Look at this beautiful spread of olives and other pickled canapés.
Gazing at them, I had two urges. The first urge was to stuff my head inside the bucket of camporeal olives, open my mouth and let them all rush in and. The second urge is even grosser, if you can believe it: by the time we’d enjoyed our fill of gastronomical fair (including liquids), I was in bad bladderly shape. I considered grabbing a bucket, skulking to the corner and doin’ my thang. But I didn’t. I found a McDonald’s instead. Yay for upholding hygiene and social norms!
And now, my favorite booth. Feast your eyes!
The caramelos sold here were absolutely divine. I purchased 80 cents worth, just to try, and had gobbled them from my purse within an hour or so. I went back to buy more to send to Greg, but whether or not he’ll ever actually receive them, only my willpower can decide. It was also because of this booth that I discovered I am now in love with black licorice. Never in my life would I have expected I’d willingly CHOOSE black licorice flavored things, but hey–people change I suppose.
Other culinary delights were a kebab stand, a booth from Asturias that featured sidra and also a wine fountain (and for some reason upon seeing this, I sadistically thought about how little Jesus would approve the blood of his blood spouting from a fountain), chorizo (spanish sausage) of which Liz couldn’t get enough, a booth with delicious Galician breads and cakes cooked in a huge, freestanding oven outside of the booth, and an Arab tea and pastry stand that also sold hookahs. The most prominent food supplier was the first booth featuring Galician delights such as you’ll see below:
This is Pulpo Gallego (Galician octoups) and peppers. What you don’t know is that I loomed creepily directly behind a vieja and zoomed in order to capture a shot of her pulpo. When she turned in response to my camera’s flash, I pretended to fiddle with my purse, then take a shot of something else, acted vaguely dissatisfied, pivoted on my heel and casually strode away. I decided that being creepy was easier than asking permission to photograph her feast.
And finally here are three of the five lovely women who comprised my excellent Friday afternoon company. Sadly enough, the others got lost on a mission for crepes and I never got a picture.
From left: Carolina (Shakira!? Liz’s roommate), Liz, and Amanda, the latter two who are part of the Middlebury masters program in Spanish.
So yeah. Friday was the high point of my weekend, but yesterday was nice, too. I basically walked around Madrid wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, all day yesterday. It was freeing and it had been a long time since I’d gotten to be totally alone with myself. Was it depressing and maybe even a little lonely at some points? Yes. But was it also totally necessary? Yes, again. Walking around alone made me pretty forlorn for a certain boy’s hand to hold. Finding cool new things just idn’t the same without someone you love to share them with. Ah, well. 44 more days and I get to inundate Greg with all of the goodness Madrid has to offer.
I capped off yesterday by purchasing myself the most costly, luxurious present I have ever bought just for me. Strangely, I feel only a little guilty about it. My early Christmas gift to me is a pair of gold earrings from Turkey in the shape of a pair of birds with turquoise stones for eyes and accents. Why did I do it? I dunno, because occasionally I think I’m worth having nice things, and I worked hard all summer for money and currently do now? I’m conscious of the fact that I should probably feel worse about my splurge than I do, and that guilt’ll probably surface, eventually. Maybe I’ll feel crappy about the earring purchase sometime in the near future, but for now, I’m just enjoying how goddamn awesome they are. Please see below and you’ll understand.
That concludes this installment of Caitlin’s Useless Little Life. Until next time (whenever I actually have time again!).