Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

To celebrate, I am wearing a pink shirt, and I made these anatomical heart cookies just for you:

I looked around for the appropriate food coloring, but none was to be had here in Granada, and so I ended up making them Neapolitan. I ended up using a lot of strawberry syrup to attain a passable artery color, and the flavor of that part of the cookie can best be described as "aggressive." (My housemate's boyfriend--I mean, recently-enfianced--described it that way and, frankly, it's altogether more appropriate than I'd like.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Saint Cecilio!

Las Sunday was the festival of Saint Cecilio. I'm not usually one to seek out religious celebrations, but my housemate Oscar had been talking it up for days, and apparently only some early-rising types go for the mass, and everybody else goes for the dancing and singing and food.

Saint Cecilio is the patron saint of Granada, and the festival was held over by the Abadía del Sacromonte. The story goes that in the late 16th century, some lead tablets with Arabic writing on them, along with some saints' bones, of course, were found in some caves outside the city. The tablets and accompanying bones were used to make the argument that, before the Muslims got there, Granada had been a Christian city.

A. Katie Harris
, a history professor over at UC Davis, writes about the Sacromonte tablets and the layers of interpretation surrounding them; she's got a forthcoming Granada history book that, needless to say, I'm pretty excited about. If you've got JStor access, (or even if you don't), the abstract to one of her articles is here.

Anyhow, the way that all of this somehow got distilled through the centuries into popular celebration is that, on the festival of Saint Cecilio, the cultural branch of the municipality serves up some food, and there's a lot of flamenco music, some of it by small children to pre-recorded lo-fi singing.

There's a lot of waiting on line:

What are they on line for, you ask?
For this!

That's right, they're waiting for a plate of uncooked fava beans, a piece of salt cod, a small loaf of bread (not pictured), and a dixie cup of wine:

The line went pretty quickly, even though it was long. The fava beans were pretty standard for uncooked unseasoned fresh beans, and the salt cod was ... ridiculously salty. I was glad that there was bread to go with it, and that, in addition to the wine, I happened to have a water bottle. I read Mark Kurlansky's most excellent Salt: A World History a couple of years ago, but can't for the life of me remember if any discussion of salt cod in relation to religion. Salt cod itself is a big focus of the book, though.

After wandering around for a bit, I decided to walk down the hill and to go back after four p.m., when the cave where the bones had been found would be opened. The chain on my bicycle broke when I was halfway up the hill (for the second time in about as many months), and so I coasted back home.

I replaced the chain just yesterday.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Critical Mass Granada

On Friday, I did what was one of my favorite things in the Bay Area: go to mass. I had seen a flyer for Critical Mass up on my way home from the archive, and figured that I'd give it a go. I've been pretty lonely lately, and I figured that it would be good for me to meet some people who like bicycles, who might even be about my age (I was going on some weekend longish rides with a group, but haven't been since the weather's gotten cold and rainy; the group is large, but there are maybe three people in it younger than forty. The rest are men in their sixties, who are a riot, but I really need friends to hang out with and bake cookies and maybe just take some walks with.)

It was a fairly small ride (the count was fifty-five people); one of the guys on the ride said that it was the largest ride Granada had had in a long time. Sigh.

The route that we took was not intuitive to critical mass, which I think of as occurring on main streets usually during hours of high traffic. Here, it started at a little past eight, and went on tiny little cobblestoned streets, and on main streets for maybe five or six blocks. Granted, Granada doesn't really have too much traffic even on the large streets (maybe there's a morning or a 2A.M. rush hour I don't know about?), but we could have ridden around downtown a bit?

The mood was festive all around, on the part of both cyclists and pedestrians; I don't think that any drivers were confrontational at all. This might be because waiting for a few dozen cyclists (some in pirate costumes, some in funny wigs, others of us dressed in our civilian cycling garb) differs from waiting for several hundred.

Afterwards, we went to a bar and got some beer and tapas. I talked with a couple of the people from the ride. One of them was some Italian guy who plays the didgeridoo (sp?) in the street. Not to generalize, but from the looks of it, many of them could have been substandard street performers (not that I've heard this guy, specifically, play the didgeridoo in the street. I'm just presuming here, that based on the quality of other didgeridoo players in the streets of Granada, he might not be that good.) Which led me to suffer from profound disappointment: when will I meet the people in Granada who I want to hang out with? At San Francisco critical mass I would always either meet up with friends or meet friends of friends, most of whom seemed to have things like jobs and ambitions. Not that jobs and ambitions are everything ...

Sigh. If anyone out there knows people in Granada who are awesome and who want to be my friends, let me know.