Friday, March 25, 2005

The Impossibility Of Good Bread

I started out by asking people in the street where to get good bread, a perfectly reasonable question in France, but I was getting very strange – why on earth would you want to eat bread anyway? – looks. It turns out that the Spanish only eat ham. Seriously, who knew they ate so much of the stuff? There are as many shops selling ham here as there are pharmacies in France, and trust me, that is a lot. My favourite is the museo del jamón (which if my Spanish serves me is the museum of ham) which is either a really popular name for a shop selling ham or it’s a chain. Our closest Museo del Jamon is open from 8.00am – 2.00am. Try that on a 35 hour working week. So we are back on lovely white sliced bread, which at the moment, possibly due to slight translation problems comes in slices as thick as, well I don’t even know how to describe how thick it is. Basically you have to put an awful lot of ham in the sandwich to be able to taste the ham; luckily we are in the right country for that. The bread is very sweet and sticky obviously not meant to be eaten with ham, so I’m guessing you’re just meant to take you ham straight up.

Grocery shopping is lucky dip at the moment as I am shopping on the internet. It takes a long time and a lot of dictionary consultation and I am taking delivery of a lot of things I can’t remember ordering. The brand names are ever so slightly different like Cif for Jif, Dodot for Pampers and Kalia for Vanish. Toilet Duck is obviously Pato W.C.
I am pleased to report that anchovies are widely available but I just can’t find those Kleenex tissues with balm yet.

Dogs are banned here like children are in Paris, in restaurants, shops and other public places. Parisians definitely prefer dogs to children. No children, but come on in with your smoking dog.

I can’t comment on Spanish television yet but as this is the birthplace of Hello (¡Hola!) where the big news is at the moment is Carlos y Camilla I have high hopes of entertaining quality television.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in that fashion disaster that was the 70’s and had an orange vinyl waistcoat with matching orange vinyl miniskirt – yes I really did, presumably to match my hair colour and it was my very best outfit, I have the school photo to prove it, alas available only in black and white, that I find the children’s fashion here so alarming. In Madrid it’s like stepping back in time, far beyond the horrors of the 70’s. The outfits the Madrileño children are wearing are borderline ridiculous. The boys are wearing long shorts with braces (naturally) with long socks and plaid shirts with button-down collars, girls are wearing (in soft pastel blue or pink) very short dresses with frilly underwear, little cropped cardigans in very fine wool, ballet slippers and large satin bows that make their heads look like Easter eggs. These outfits are worn to the park and not just on Sundays. Of course they all have those tailored overcoats with velvet collars and if they belong to the same family they will be wearing exactly the same outfit.

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