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cordoba: road tripping

May 3, 2009

cordoba mosque

March 12, 2009

Not-so-fresh off the bus, I arrive in Malaga around 10am, take a quick shower then hop in the car with Rafael.   Road trip!  Rafa is a friend of a friend from home and has been the kindest host, picking me up at the airport, dropping me off at the bus station, driving me to Cordoba, giving me a bed to sleep in and generally being the best darn tour guide a girl could ever ask for.  I don’t know how I will ever repay him.

road to cordoba

He puts Ojo de Brujo in the cd player, blasts the music, sings along, shouts over the loud speakers as he translates the lyrics for me, then claps the flamenco 12-beat palmas, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce, with the accent on 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12.  All the while, he steers with his knees, cigarette hanging off his lower lip.  He says oh my god a lot when he gets excited but with the Spanish accent it comes out “oh my gutt“.  It is adorable.

We drive for a couple hours.  The scenery is rolling hills, olive groves, little towns painted white tucked in valleys.  When we arrive, he drops me off at the Mezquita of Cordoba, on the banks of the Guadalquivir river.  I do not enter the mosque, opting instead to saunter.  I have become a professional saunterer on this trip.  I can dilly and dally with the best of them.  I mosey and meander.   I roam, ramble and rove. It’s a new skill I’ve acquired.  Back home, in the city, I am the speed walker on a mission.  I dodge obstacles to get to my destination in record time.  Here, there is no destination and when my pace starts to pick up, my camera usually reminds me to slow down.  At first, I tripped on my own feet, so little were they used to the leisurely stride but how quickly they’ve adapted.

cordoba building

street lamp cordoba

Mid-afternoon, Rafa picks me up for lunch.  His mother has prepared paella with langostinos, endive with aoli (garlic), bread (bien sûr), anchovy-stuffed olives (or what I like to call explosions of goodness on my taste buds) and cheese drizzled with olive oil.  Because cheese isn’t fatty enough on its own. Rafa’s parents don’t speak a word of English and with my Spanish word count of approximately 12, the conversation is muy muy basic, to say the least.   We speak in sign language and smiles.  I basically repeat me gusta mucho, muy muy buen and muchos gracias over and over, like a skipping record.  But given the mouthwatering meal, perhaps it’s about all I could have mustered in English, because when you’re enjoying food like this, you don’t want to waste time talking when you can be savoring.  Hence, it is at least understood that I am a happy girl.

yellow flowers yellow window

cala lilies

I tell Rafael that I’m not used to eating big lunches back home and that breakfast is one of the biggest meals of the day.  He responds “If we had a light lunch in Spain, we wouldn’t have energy for siesta.”  And so it is that I find myself chilling and watching an episode of Two and a Half Men with Spanish subtitles in the middle of the afternoon.   It is all a bit surreal.  After the show, we walk to his friend’s bar for coffee.  They chat, I sip espresso and read my Barcelona travel guide.   Then Rafa takes me on a speed tour of Cordoba, his hometown.  The dude is always five steps ahead of me and my new leisurely pace has a hard time keeping up but I see many many things in the span of 2 hours and by the time we are done, the sun sets over the bird sanctuary and the city silhouettes against an orange sky.

plaza cordoba

sunset cordoba

We drive back in the dark and arrive in Malaga around 9pm, when, believe it or not, it is time to start cooking dinner.  Rafa shows me how to make tortilla de patatas (one of my favorite Spanish dishes – omelette with fried  potatoes).   And I, in turn, will share the recipe with you.

tortilla de patatas

1 cup olive oil (you read that right)
4 large potatoes (peeled and cut in pieces 2mm thick)
1 large onion thinly sliced
4 large eggs
Salt to taste

Heat oil in pan, add potato pieces one slice at at time so they don’t stick.  Alternate layers of potato and onion.  Cook slowly at medium flame.  Do not fry.  Turn occasionally until potatoes are tender but not brown.  They must be loose, not “in a cake”.  Beat eggs in large bowl with a fork.  Salt to taste.  Drain potatoes and onions.  Add to beaten eggs pressing them so that eggs cover them completely.   Heat 2 TBS of the oil in large skillet.  Add potato egg mixture.  Spreading quickly.  Lower heat to medium, shake pan to prevent sticking *crucial step*.  When potatoes start to brown, put a plate on top of the skillet and flip to cook other side, adding another TBS oil.  Brown on other side.

As the omelette cooks, I run down to the corner store to pick up 2 baguettes (because no Spanish meal is complete without white bread, it seems).  Around 11pm, we eat our omelette with Salmorejo – Cordoba’s most typical dish, a vegetable cold cream soup made of tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and salt, sprinkled with jamón (cured ham).

I am in bed by 1am with a full stomach and an alarm set for 5:30am.   Tomorrow, I fly to Barcelona.

**Next post, I’ll tell you how I landed in Barcelona in the cockpit.   For reals. **

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. sophie permalink
    May 4, 2009 2:44 am

    Fabulous photos!

    mmmmm, I know what I’m having for brekkie tomorrow morning!!! :-9

  2. May 4, 2009 10:14 pm

    glorious photographs as always. 🙂 love the cooking and the late nights

  3. safstar permalink
    May 5, 2009 2:12 am

    It’s. Just. So. Wonderful. your ability to take everyone else with you through your memories has knocked me off my chair once again.

  4. kathryn Guerriero permalink
    May 6, 2009 12:30 pm

    saweet, so inspirational the way you lived every moment – and for sure I’ve read that 1c of olive oil at 11pm doesn’t count when your living la vida loca in Spain 🙂

  5. May 15, 2009 2:58 pm

    I’m really enjoying this vicarious trip! Me and my traveling shoes took a similar route in 2001- England (London, Bath, Glastonbury) and Spain (Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Merida, Malaga, Barcelona) but instead of Italy where you will be taking us next, I went to France. Ahh… to be on a train somewhere again!

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