Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The second day of Valencia

The mercado of our little area called Rufaza is the most impressive agricultural thing we have seen.  It was like going to the county fair and seeing every booth selling food.  Olives, onions, fish, pork, vegetables in mounds and separated into today's and the discount yesterday piles.  An amazing arrangement of freshness and almost reverence of food.  People are careful as two euros here and there will quickly add up.  And many of the people here buy daily or every other day to have the best ingredients at the cheapest cost.

Just down the street is an American store, complete with Rice Crispies and Cocoa Puffs.  I did not see Twinkies, but I sure thought about it.  They did not have SPAM, but I am sure that I saw deviled ham cans.  Juxtaposition comes to mind.

Did you know that the Europeans do not refrigerate eggs?  Look in the freezer and you will look for hours.  They are on the shelf next to the other weekly deliveries.  Nor do they stuff the chickens with anti-biotics and totally unexpected, they chop them (your chicken) in front of you.  After walking isle after isle of varying green lettuces, herbs, striped purple eggplants, reddish/green tomatoes bigger than your fist, olives of every sort and color, jamon or hams and sausages, cheeses and pastries, we entered the pesca mercado.  Oh my goodness, the fish and shrimp of the world are here.  The colors of pink and deep oranges and whiter than white fillets.   Huge fish heads set upright on the ice to identify the fillets below.

The salmon and pink trouts of the Alaska waters on the ice as well.  Charles walked the aisles torturing the vendors as he wasn't looking to buy, he was looking to compare to Florida fish. We walked and walked looking at cuddle fish and squid that fill a bucket.  The variety, the complexity, the opportunity to choose is amazing.  I am sorry that I could not take pictures for you.  The vendors do not like their photos taken.  And yet down the street is the market that puts these fine offerings in little plastic packages to make it convenient to shop.  The local Winn-Dixie or Publix if you will.  I regret only my choice of leather footwear for the day.

No wonder Spain is a retirement destination.  For three euros you can make a healthy meal and live two blocks from the Mercado and fifteen blocks from the waters that feed you!

Back at the apartment to put away the purchase of tomato, eggplant, onion, pepper, garlic, parsley, more prawns and wine.  Perfect beginning to a meal than will be made tonight.  Or that was the plan.  We take a quick siesta, or at least I do.  Charles sleeps in the other room as the technica has come to fix the hot water.  A new nozzle installed, I awake my prince and we decide to head to the Palicio Magnifico.  Charles picks it for the name.  Turns out is is the local courthouse.

We are heading that direction and Charles is still talking about paella so we head to look at restaurants and we finally settle on El Palacio de la Bellota very near Charles' chosen palacio.  The waiter turns out to have a mother from Kansas and speaks English with ease.  He is so sweet that we go in.  One glass of wine and a plate of traditional Valencia paella with rabbit and chicken later, we are stuffed.  Had I been with girlfriends, we would have stayed and drank wine and talked about Kansas, but Charles doesn't really want to linger in bars or hang around longer than needed.  There is such a big difference in the European way of eating, visiting and lingering and the American fast food mentality.  And maybe that of couple and girlfriends.  He thinks the $40 is expensive, oh what he doesn't know about eating out!  So spoiled by me cooking and buying the wine.

first bite

I did get him to wear a scarf with colors finally!

After the imbibing and the degustation, we head out in the cold for our long walk home to the Valencia apartment.  The bath is a bath, with a hand held shower, so it takes some adjustment for the spoiled Americanos who have it all.  We learn to conserve and do more with less and appreciate the smallness of our apartment, the completeness of our space and the limitations that come with luxury expectations.

The three flights of stairs are harder after dinner and the count of unmarked doors more challenging.  But back here in the night, thousands of miles from home, we are grateful for the opportunity.  And tomorrow, maybe we will see a different Valencia.  Buenas Noches, bonne nuit and good night.