Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Driving the Island

Chapter 26

Driving around Mallorca with Mr. G and Helen was a great treat on weekends when we would climb into the Citroën deux chevaux and join the other domingueros ....Sunday drivers...for excursions around the island. There were so many wonderful places to discover and so many little villages with restaurants that served delicious Mallorcan country cuisine. Other times we would pack a picnic lunch of tortilla, sobrasada, baguettes, cheese, olives and wine.

Mallorcan Sobrasada Sausage
Photo courtesy of gastrotourspain

farmhouse from road(click photos to enlarge)

I had a little German Voigtländer 35mm camera at the time and as I couldn't afford colour film (thank heavens, I say now) I limited myself then to black and white photography, which now has a nostalgic appeal. One of the villages we visited was Bunyola, situated at about 14 kms from Palma, in the Sierra Tramuntana mountains. The name of the town used to be spelled in Castellano as Buñola (as on my photos) but it is written nowadays the Mallorquin way as Bunyola.

panorama bunyolaHere are some photos I took as we walked through Bunyola in 1968.

Bunyola woman & child
bunyola 3
Bunyola 4 Sometimes we would go to a beach where we would pass by a farmyard. Here George Bowden greets a friendly burro.
G.Bowden & burro Oh where did he go?
burroHere's a view of a Mallorcan vineyard.
Image courtesy of Mallorca Wine Express:

Here I am standing in the Gardens of Alfabia on another outing:
Sharon in Alfabia I bought that poncho when I arrived and wore it everywhere. I didn't bring an overcoat as I thought it was never chilly in Spain!

Continue on to Chapter 27 Spanish Omelette

Go back to Chapter 25......Sopas Mallorquinas

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sopas Mallorquinas

Chapter 25

sopas mallorquinas (click to enlarge)

Sopas Mallorquinas - Vegetable and bread stew from Mallorca

This is a much loved hearty meatless peasant dish from the Balearic island of Mallorca. Although called 'sopas' or soup, it is actually a stew-like combination of available winter vegetables such as chard, cabbage and cauliflower cooked in water, oil, garlic, paprika and salt, which is then poured over thinly-shaven slices of dry salt-free country bread - called sopas - which are a day or two old. These thin bread slices are available in nearly every corner 'colmado' - as the small neighbourhood grocery stores are called. Those who have grown up with sopas Mallorquinas on the table will probably look forward to having it many times more. You can prepare this dish and have it ready in less than an hour.

Ingredients for 4 persons:

1/2 lb (200 grams) of thinly shaven slices of country bread
A dense country-style bread is needed for this and it should be stale, dry and sliced paper thin.

approx. 8 young leaves & stems of Swiss chard roughly chopped
small cabbage - roughly chopped
1 onion cut in julienne
handful of flatleaf Italian parsley roughly chopped
cauliflower - a few florets broken in pieces
1 ripe tomato, peeled and diced
2 teasp sweet paprika powder
4 TBS olive oil
2 green peppers - cut in large dice
2 to 3 cups water
optional: chicken stock cube
fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

1) Put the oil in a shallow flame-proof earthenware or ceramic casserole. When oil is hot, add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Sauté without browning.

2) Add the tomato and the large diced vegetables. Sweat the vegetables and blend in the paprika powder. Season with salt & fresh ground pepper.

3) Add the water and let simmer gently for about 15 - 20 minutes, then taste to check seasoning. (Note: After pouring in the water I added a Knorr or Spanish Avecrem chicken stock cube, broken up and scattered over top.)

4) Once vegetables are tender, turn off stove, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a warm bowl, leaving the broth in the casserole dish. There should be about an inch of broth.

5) Arrange the thin shaven slices of dry bread over the bottom of the casserole dish so the broth is totally absorbed, and put the vegetables back in the casserole on top of the bread. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving at the table.

6) Serve at the table in the same earthenware casserole dish.

NOTES: The bread used in this recipe is typical to Mallorca and is a simple bread made of unbleached partially whole wheat flour, water and yeast. It is therefore dense and able to absorb the broth without becoming mushy.

There are many variations of 'sopas mallorquinas' as the ingredients depend on what is available in the garden at the time. However those listed above are the main ones used and will give the true flavour of this dish.

Continue on to Chapter 26......Driving the Island

Go back to Chapter 24......Cayetano, The Gypsy

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cayetano, The Gypsy

Chapter 24

gypsy danceImage adapted
(Click to enlarge photos)

Cayetano was a flamenco guitar player raza gitana....of gypsy race...who was a good friend of Mr. George Bowden and his family.
Cayetano performed some evenings at The Guitar Centre in Palma and although he wasn't the best of flamenco guitarists, he could be counted on to arrive and perform on time. Tall, slim and with collar-length black hair, he had the strong facial features of his race. With his black eyes and swarthy skin his appearance attracted admiring glances, and when he appeared in his black suit with white shirt open at the neck, his hair slicked down with brilliantine, he looked all the part of a flamenco guitar raza gitana.

alhambra-Palma He sold bolts of cloth in the market and was married with young children. He was quite poor and often didn't manage to have enough to eat. I remember one time when Cayetano and José Cobos, another flamenco guitarist, were up at the apartment with Mr. G. and Helen after a performance, Cayetano mentioned that he hadn't eaten in two days. Without a hesitation, Helen went to the kitchen and in no time prepared him a meal of hamburger patties, peas and chips. He was very hungry and ate quickly.

G.BowdenGeorge Bowden with one of his guitars

While I was teaching guitar at the Guitar Centre I was for a time also trying out a flamenco guitar
loaned to me by Mr. George Bowden, from his factory in the Pueblo Español. Flamenco models have a lighter construction and thinner body in order to give the brilliant sound needed for flamenco playing, as opposed to the deeper, more mellow sound of the classical guitar.
Mr. G. would sometimes take one of his flamenco guitars to Cayetano and ask him to try it out for sound.

Guitar centreAt the Palma Guitar Centre Studio

I never really learned how to play flamenco properly and I believe the rhythms and melodies are instilled as a heritage from early childhood. But I had been practising a few simple versions of Soleares and Bulerias shown me by Bill Lewis when I lived in Vancouver. The music had been arranged by the maestro Bartolomé Calatayud, the beloved Mallorquin guitarist, composer and teacher.

music bookI was very much attracted to the sounds and rhythms of flamenco and when I met Cayetano we agreed that he would give me a few lessons. He came to the makeshift music studio in the guitar centre that I had been using, where an internal door led to the small one room home of Jeremy, the scuba diving instructor.

As I mentioned earlier, Jeremy would sometimes appear in the middle of a lesson with his flippers, tanks and diving gear to disappear into his cubbyhole residence. I enjoyed learning from Cayetano although at that point in time I could barely speak Spanish. I communicated with my own Spanish pupils by hand gestures and the few words I had written down which covered the parts of the guitar and basic instructions.

guitar labelSo I was very pleased when, one day after I had taken a few lessons from Cayetano he got up from his chair and started to dance to my playing. Oh yes that was thrilling, although I was hardly able to keep up with him, he paid me the compliment of affecting that with my attempts at playing Bulerias I could stir his gypsy temperament into dancing.
Dear Cayetano, I hope life has been good to you since then.

Here is an amazing video of a little gypsy girl dancing Bulerías to the sound of many olés and with all the spirit of a grown woman.

And here is another video of Bulerías danced in an authentic setting:

Continue on to Chapter 25......Sopas Mallorquinas

Go back to Chapter 23......A Night in Tagomago
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