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Living, Learning, Loving......Life in Spain

A Simple Stew
15 April 2020 @ 10:29

When we first arrived here 17 years ago, we had no plan of where we were going to go. It could be Spain, it could be Portugal, with two suitcases and a hire car, we could go where we wanted. We had booked a timeshare in Malaga for the first week to give us somewhere to start from and we just hired a car and started travelling, turning left or right at each junction on a whim. We soon realized Malaga was too expensive for us and so widened our search. Driving around the next day we ended up in Ronda, a beautiful mountainous region with some dramatic scenery and thought we’d stop and take a look around. We parked by an estate agent and looked in the window. We liked the look of the area and the prices seemed more reasonable. We’ll go in and have a look at some properties.

It was only 1.35 pm and the door was locked. ‘Must be out for lunch, look there’s a restaurant, let's go for lunch and come back later’ said Karl. So we did.

So we entered a very large and empty restaurant, ordered 2 beers and made the signs for eating and the barman pointed to a table and motioned us to sit down. There was no menu on the table so Karl approached him and asked for a menu, ‘Que?’ he said, ‘menu’ said Karl, ‘Que?’ he said, ‘menu’ said I, ‘Que?’, ‘menu’ said both of us, becoming desperate, we’d looked up the word in the dictionary and it clearly showed it was the same word, so we showed him the dictionary, ‘ah menu’ he said, with the accent on the ‘u’ and so brought us the menu. That's what we thought we'd been saying. We just looked at each other and shook our heads. Well, we’d only been in Spain just over a week and still only had Tenerife Spanish language skills, cerveza, vino, hola, adios and gracias and so we didn't really fully understanding how precise the language is and why he couldn't understand a simple mispronunciation.

As we were sat there, trying to decide what to have to eat, the restaurant started to fill up and was soon very noisy and full of workmen. The waitress began bringing out plates of salad and what looked like a potato and fish stew. ‘That looks good’, said Karl, ‘we’ll just have that’. So off he went to the bar to order it. He had no success with making the barman understand, so-called me over to help. The barman couldn’t understand either of us so he called the cook to come from the kitchen. We tried to tell her and at that moment a waitress walked passed us with a plate of the stew and so I pointed to her. The cook wrote on a piece of paper, patatas y bacalao. I looked it up in the dictionary, potatoes and cod, that’ll do nicely, so nodded and said ‘sí, dos por favor. (yes, two please), I was getting the hang of this language now. She started to rabbit on at us, and I continued to nod my head and say ‘sí dos’. Looking confused she went back to the kitchen, and we sat down to await our meal.

The barman came and set the table, we watched more stew go by and kept thinking that’ll be ours soon. Then the cook came and plonked two plates of pork chops and chips in front of us. We looked at each other, this is not what we ordered, we both thought. Obviously somewhere in her rabbiting, she had offered us a choice. Well we didn’t have the skills to say anything so just smiled and ate it, and it was ok, but we were by now really looking forward to the cod and potato stew.

We have of course since learned about the menu of the day, but it has taken us years to find that stew again. It was obviously a regional delicacy.

And the estate agent was still shut when we went back. No-one had told us the lunch hour was 3 hours long!

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