Image credit: Thomas Backa (Flickr: Creative Commons)
I don’t like Halloween. Never have. Never will.
Not for of any particular religious reasons, but simply because it always seemed a pretty pointless exercise to me.
Until I moved to live in Spain.
Although the American-style “ghosts and ghouls” type of Halloween has now started to creep into the Spanish calendar each year, this time of year is celebrated here in a different form, as “El Día de los Muertos” or the “Day of the Dead”.
The festival of Todos los Santos (All Saints´ day) is a national holiday on November 1st each year, when cemeteries are packed with families paying homage to their dead and tending the gravestones of their ancestors by placing fresh flowers and candles.
This is a commemoration for loved ones with nothing ghoulish or scary involved and, thankfully, without commercialism.
Exactly as it should be.
Last month, I started a new feature called Let’s Talk About Tapas, when I gave you a general overview of what to expect if you want to eat tapas in Spain.
Each month I will be telling you about different tapas, and often I will include a recipe so you can make them at home for yourself.
So, what are tapas and how did they originate?
Well, it’s thought that originally in the wine-making regions of Andalucía, a cover in the form of a small plate or lid was placed over glasses of wine to keep fruit flies away. Titbits of food were later placed on the lid to be eaten with the wine. Remember too, that the word “tapar” in Spanish means “to cover”, which is where we get the word “tapas” from.
Let’s get started with one of my favourite tapas – Boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar).
You can buy boquerones from fish merchants or any supermarket with a fish counter such as Mercadona, where a kilo costs around €3.
They are not very difficult to prepare and are absolutely delicious! When we first arrived to live in Spain and rented a house for the first twelve months in Frigiliana, my Spanish next door neighbour showed me how she prepared them.
First you need to head and gut the fish. Do this by holding each fish using two hands – with the tail in one hand and the head in the other. Squeeze behind the head and pull it off. Split open the fish with your fingers and take out the guts, backbone and pull off tail.
Rinse in cold water until the water runs clear and place the filleted fish white-side up into dish.
Sprinkle with salt and cover with white wine vinegar. Depending on how many fish you have, you can arrange them into layers – making sure you perform this same task with each layer. The top layer of fish needs to be covered with vinegar.
The boquerones will start to turn white almost immediately as they “cook” in the vinegar.
I usually cover the dish with clingfilm and pop it into the fridge overnight to marinade.
Next morning, drain the salty vinegar away and cover the boquerones with extra-virgin olive oil, lots of chopped garlic and a little freshly chopped parsley – and by lunchtime they will be ready to eat with freshly baked bread.
What are your favourite tapas?
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This is the gorgeous sunset view overlooking the reservoir at Alange in Extremadura, Spain. What a perfect photo for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon -
I just had to share it!
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Towards the end of August we usually start to look forward to some relief from the long hot summer.
The early autumn thunderstorms arrived on time this year to bring some relief for the parched ground. The normal pattern would be that these first autumn rains arrive anywhere from mid September to early October, after which the weather cools down a little.
This year has proved to be an exception, as by mid October, we still await a break in the weather and the glorious summer goes on.
Typically these warm sunny days will continue towards Christmas-time with a few rainy periods in between. The main difference between here and the UK, for example, is that we don’t end up with grey skies for weeks at a time.
The autumn and early winter sun can be surprisingly warm, but this year has proved warmer and drier than normal, with virtually unbroken sunshine and temperatures between 24-29C, which would make a beautiful midsummer day in northern Europe.
A by-product of this has been brilliant clear blue skies.
Certainly, along with May and June, the climate here during September and October can be the most pleasant of the year. Visitors from the north would still be wise to take similar precautions against the sun as in summer, but the nights are more comfortable to sleep with overnight temperatures in the range 17C to 19C compared with the low to middle twenties Celsius during July and August.
All in all, it’s a wonderful time of year to visit the area to the East of Málaga.
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The ferias are in full flow in the Axarquía region with the latest at Torrox pueblo last weekend. By day, unassuming white Andalucían village – but by night, OH BOY is it a feast for the senses!
The bright flashing lights of the fairground rides, beautiful flamenco dresses, dancing, live music, the smell and taste of great food and drink, very late nights and, of course, the fireworks!
If you miss one of the nights, don’t worry there are plenty more, as most ferias take place over several days.
This coming weekend it’s Nerja’s turn, with the Feria held on the land between Carabeo and Los Huertos. Full programme of events, HERE.
See you there!
Do they know how to party, or what?
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The common meaning of the word pair, (derived from the Latin par meaning’equal’) refers to two of something.
A pair is a set of two things used together or regarded as a unit.
Whether this is something joined, like scissors or pants, or separate as with socks or earrings – there’s a definite connection.
Of course, the word pair can also used in the context of pairing off, up or with – but while you’re having a think about what it means to you, here are a few of my examples.
Don’t forget that the CBBH Photo Challenge is a little different from some other challenges, in two ways. First, it’s only once a month – giving you lots of time to consider your entry before the end of the calendar month. Second, and most important, this is a BLOG HOP (after all, it is the CBBH – Conejo Blanco Blog Hop, meaning white rabbit in Spanish), so DON’T FORGET that in your post you need to add links to two blogs that you have visited and commented on during the past month. That way, when we visit each other, we can HOP OVER to your links, connect with others and share a little blog love around!
My first photo shows a pair of door knobs and their shadows, taken in the pretty, white mountain village of Frigiliana. This blue door is in the top part of the village, only accessible on foot, up a series of stone steps cut into the streets. There is no motor vehicle access up the steep streets to this part of the village, which remains largely how it must have looked hundreds of years ago, when the village was occupied by the Moors.
I spotted these earrings for sale in the old silk market, whilst we were visiting Granada earlier in the summer. I particularly like the fact that amongst all the silver coloured pairs, there is just one pair that is different.
July 2013 was the tenth anniversary of the Andalucian town of Baeza being granted UNESCO World Heritage status. The lovely Renaissance-styled town is a fascinating place to visit and here you can see two arches through the old city walls, beautifully lit to enhance their features.
In a festival that dates back several hundred years, many coastal towns and fishing villages in Spain celebrate the Fiesta del Día de Virgen del Carmen as the protector of mariners and fishermen. Of the many fiestas and festivals celebrated around here, this is one of my favourites, as the statue of the Virgen del Carmen is paraded through the streets before being loaded onto one of the decorated fishing boats and taken out to sea to bless the fishing grounds. In this photograph you can see the pair of bells situated above the village church from where the statue emerges, used to call the faithful to prayer.
And finally, especially for you ladies, how could I resist taking a quick snap of this postcard for sale displayed on a stand outside a local shop showing a cheeky pair of buttocks belonging to a bullfighter?!
** Nicole at thirdeyemom.com is a blogger and social-good advocate living in Minnesota, USA who travels and experiences the world using her “third-eye”, meaning with an open heart and mind. She works hard to build awareness on some of the biggest social issues in the world and has written about global health, poverty, education, safe water and sanitation, human rights, and most of all, how all of these issues have especially impacted women and girls in the developing world. Nicole takes the most amazing photographs and maybe you can learn about some of the tips she picked up recently from National Geographic photographer, Kelley Miller.
** Red Hen Run follows the Adventures of an Irish Mother of three teenagers, who is a half marathon and marathon finisher. Always preferring to be on the go – she runs, but also pecks at photography, cooking, reading and history. As I am not a runner, I particularly liked the look of her Prawn and Leek Fricasee, but if running is your thing, you can find lots of useful information about training, sports bras, the use of earphones or just the plain old wisdom of running.
So that´s the CBBH Photo Challenge for October, everyone!
Remember, all you have to do is post your entry by the end of the month, tag your entry ‘CBBH Photo Challenge’, link back to this blog and, most importantly, don´t forget to add links to any two blogs that you´ve commented on during the past month, so that we can all HOP OVER and have a look. Make sure you FOLLOW THIS BLOG so you don´t miss next month´s exciting challenge!
For more information on how the CBBH Photo Challenge works click here.
I hope everyone taking part enjoys the exposure the CBBH Photo Challenge offers to featured blogs and, who knows, you may end up finding a new favourite! I´m looking forward to seeing your interpretations.
[CBBH logo Image credit: (cc) Mostly Dans]
I’m going to be starting a new feature all about tapas soon, so let’s start by finding about what they are.
It’s thought that originally in the wine-making regions of Andalucia, a cover in the form of a small plate or lid was placed over glasses of wine to keep fruit flies away. Titbits of food were later placed on the lid to be eaten with the wine.
The word “tapar” in Spanish means “to cover”, which is where we get the word “tapas” from.
How wonderful that Spaniards thought it unacceptable that a fly ends up in your drink, but it´s fine if it lands on the accompanying snack!
Other stories suggest that tapas were invented by a bar owner in Seville, who decided to put a cover (tapa) over his guests´ glasses of wine, using a slice of bread to keep out flies. He later put a piece of ham or cheese on top, so that his customers could have a bite to eat with their drink.
Either way, the idea spread, so that nowadays the types of food served as tapas are limitless. Most Spaniards don´t drink alcohol without a tapa and many bars, especially in southern Andalucia, provide them free of charge.
The original Spanish “fast food” is usually displayed in refrigerated glass cabinets on the bar and served in small terracotta glazed dishes. Some examples of the type of tapas normally available include gambas (whole cooked prawns in their shells), boquerones (fresh anchovies in olive oil, vinegar and garlic), chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage), albondigas (meatball…often in a creamy almond sauce), queso (cheese…often manchego), habas con jamon (broad beans with ham), ensalada rusa (Russian salad) or just a few olives.
Your choice of tapas is usually accompanied by a small piece of crusty bread which helps to counteract the adverse effects of the alcohol through drinking on an empty stomach.
What a sensible idea!
In many establishments, if you stand at the bar along with the locals you will be given one tapa free with each drink you buy.
That’s right …. free food!
Should you choose to sit away from the bar, you can pay for a tapas or two (usually about one euro in this part of Spain), or opt for a larger serving known as a ración (ration) or medio ración (half ration). This is a great way to eat a variety of dishes, and a pretty sociable activity as groups generally tend to share their dishes.
The food is generally very good, even in remote villages around the Axarquia.
Where is your favourite tapas bar? Which tapa do you choose, time and time again?
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Looking through the lines and patterns of the Royal Alcazar in Seville, Spain.
We don’t see this beautiful little flower very often because it is usually hidden in the daytime and opens during the hours of darkness to release it’s beautiful perfume. I’ve written about the Dama de Noche (or night-scented jasmine) before, but it made an appearance today because we had heavy rain for most of the morning, and have had a dismal, cloudy afternoon. The poor plant must think the evening is upon us already!
Still, we have had a long hot summer and the ground desperately needed the rain. I know that the sunshine will soon be back
Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to photograph raindrops on the flowers from An Unusual POV, which just happens to be this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge!
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We love to travel not only locally, but throughout Spain, so I will also include information, from time to time, about where we have visited. Usually these places can either be driven to within a few hours of our home, east of Málaga, or we will have flown there from Málaga (AGP) airport.
We managed to find some cheap return flights from Málaga with Ryanair to Zaragoza in northern Spain. If you take only hand luggage, there are often bargains to be had, so if you have a few days to spare, it is well worth spending a long weekend in this beautiful city.
Situated in the northeast of the country on the river Ebro, Zaragoza was once an important Roman colony, a thriving Muslim city and a cornerstone of the Catholic Spanish empire. This ancient city has the fortune of being located between Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao, which probably accounted for it’s prominence.
Zaragoza is Spain’s fifth largest city and is the capital of the immense autonomous region of Aragon.
Deriving its name from the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, Zaragoza has a real Roman theme to it, with an 80 metre section of the old city walls still surviving, as well as a forum, theatre and baths.
We lost no time in getting to know this charming city which, despite having a population of over 700,000, feels surpringly small and easy to get around.
We visited the beautiful Baroque Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar and took the scenic elevator inside the highest tower for magnificent views over the River Ebro and the city.
We were amazed by the Palacio de la Aljafería which pre-dates the Moorish Alhambra Palace in Granada, and is the home of the regional parliament of Aragon. The Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon, including the Basilica, La Seo Cathedral and the Aljafería Palace have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Zaragoza is a city that may not figure on the typical tourist trail around Spain but, nevertheless, may just be one of its best kept secrets!
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