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Our Andalucian paradise

My husband and I had lived in Mexico City, LA, Paris, Guadalajara, Oslo, Montreal and Vancouver. On a rainy November night we moved to a small town an hour inland from Malaga. 'Our Andalusian paradise' is about the historical town of Ronda, the mountains that surrounds it, the white villages dotted amongst them, of hikes, donkey trails and excursions around Andalucía and journeys further afield.

Enjoying life’s simple pleasures, such as breakfast at Juan’s
26 July 2018 @ 18:13

Bar Sanchez through muralla. Photo © snobb.netI have always been of the opinion that we ought to enjoy the small pleasures that life offers. If we hold back for the big delights, the large victories and the jump-out-of-the-cake surprises, we might end up waiting forever. So, in the meantime, I cherish each passing smile, enjoy every miniscule blessing, celebrate even the tiniest victory and treasure life’s mini-wonders.

Andalusian trail. Photo ©

Living in rural Spain, our life is filled with such small pleasures – Waking up to the bells of half a dozen sheep grazing up the street, watching life go by from a stone bench in the local square, feeling a Mediterranean morning breeze on the skin, following a meandering trail through olives and almond groves, chatting to a neighbour about Andalucía’s past, pulling a hand through a sea of lavender, being greeted by first name at the local store, having a basket of newly laid farm eggs handed through the door with nothing expected in return, opening the window, instantly being immersed by the heady scent of honeysuckle and jasmine, slinking back to bed for a guiltless early afternoon siesta, picking up sun-dried bed linens after less than an hour on the line, enjoying a free concert of someone singing flamenco at a distant party, and sitting on the terrace after nightfall still in a sleeveless dress, watching the stars.

Night sky from terrace. Photo ©

There are innumerable small pleasures such as these that fill our daily life here in Ronda and we discover more every day. Like many people, I enjoy going out for dinner, yet my favourite eating-out experience in Spain is a traditional Andalusian no-frills dasayunos.The art of a good café con leche. Photo ©


Mornings in Spain are not complete without a coffee. A Spanish café con leche is nothing like a fancy Italian cappuccino or a tub-sized French café au lait. Nor does it taste like any of the coffees served by Starbucks in their poor excuse for environmental care recycled paper cups. The truth is that I didn’t even like coffee when we lived in North America, but this all changed when we moved to Spain. Recently arrived, my husband ordered a coffee at a café in old Málaga. The waiter slammed down a worn glass on the table, containing two finger-widths of black-as-my-soul espresso. He proceeded by sloshing in milk from a spotted stainless pitcher. It was all done quite unceremoniously and for that reason alone, I was fascinated. There was no inquiry about whether the client wanted the coffee extra hot, with a shot of vanilla or served in a special receptacle, nor were there any artistic leaf or heart shaped in the foam. The coffee was as basic as can be. And from that day on, I was hooked.

Bare essentials; tostada, garlic and oil. Photo ©

The second part of an Andalusian breakfast is bread. The dough is always white, but the shape may vary from a huge slice of tostada, a medium sized bollito or mollete bun, the smaller pitufo (Spanish for Smurf), or the baby of the bun family, a pulga, meaning a flee. As I am allergic to wheat, I bring my own bread, which thankfully they will toast without any questions asked, but the rest of the traditional breakfast process, I follow to a T.

Breakfast, my way. Photo ©

Upon receiving their morning toast, locals will start stabbing the bread with a knife, followed by drowning the whole thing in olive oil. This is the same oil that sits on every table, certainly in every rural Spanish café and restaurant. Some of the braver locals rub cloves of raw garlic into their toast, while some go straight for the salt, shaking their heart out. Others, like myself, douse their bread in freshly blended tomatoes, another staple in every Andalusian café.

Breakfast Andalusian way. Photo ©

One can of course go more advanced and add zurrapa, a spreadable lard and meat concoction, but I prefer to stay with the basics - oil, tomato and salt, which make the most divine symbiosis in the mouth. Nothing can improve on this simple Andalusian breakfast. It is the most rudimentary campesino food Andalucía has to offer and something everyone has access to, usually from their own plot of land. It is heavenly, Mediterranean and dirt-cheap. Whether you eat at a truck stop or a downtown café, this authentic breakfast will usually put you back less than three euros, including tip, and, I swear, there is no small pleasure like it.

Juan at work. Photo ©

As my list of daily joys keeps growing, one item will always remain - going to Bar Sanchez for breakfast. Located just inside Ronda’s old defensive wall, it is one of those completely unpretentious joints with less than a dozen tables in and out, where one immediately feels at home. Run by Juan and his wife Loli, their menu might not be the most extensive in town, but everything comes out freshly made and everybody is made welcome. Whilst downtown Ronda is steaming with tourists, you can still have a peaceful morning coffee at Juan’s, possibly accompanied by a few regulars, having their first hit of Anís before heading off to the fields. We usually stop by in the morning, on our way home from our community garden, just as Juan brings out his tables. Albeit a muddy pair, all we have to do is ask him for ‘the usual’, and less than a minute later two glasses with café con leche get brought out to our table. People can say what they want, but the good life is all about embracing these small pleasures.

Signage. Photo ©




Like 4


jane27 said:
27 July 2018 @ 08:47

Beautifully written and so insightful. Loved it.

Stinkey said:
28 July 2018 @ 08:33

I do so enjoy reading your blog,always written with passion and feeling..your so lucky to be living there..I'm still working on it..but like you I love those small different pleasures when being immersed in another country..x

phillicr said:
28 July 2018 @ 09:30

You have a unique observation of the dasayunos and there are so many small pleasures to be enjoyed in Andalucia.I like the two photos of the Bar Sanchez which show your creative side.

kereba said:
28 July 2018 @ 12:34

Your account is so true - there's nowhere like Andalucia for the simplest and best dasayuno in the world!

GuyT said:
29 July 2018 @ 16:17

It's a great breakfast, but cafe con leche, tostada, tamate y aceite is served every day for breakfast at every bar throughout Spain ...I've never associated it with Andalucia.

nancybenn said:
29 July 2018 @ 20:09

A lovely post which really illustrates your gorgeous mornings

toolman2 said:
10 August 2018 @ 12:03

I am almost there, a beautiful description. But I don't think the "Small pleasures" you describe are really small. I feel they are the big pleasures. Taken as a whole they add up to a way of life that many people seek but never find, a way of life that is happy in in harmony with everything around you. No,I think what you have found are the big pleasures, they affect your life and well being, everything else is superfluous.

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