Greetings from Donastia


Still in Donastia Spain, or San Sebastian to non-Basques. Weather still lovely.

Did I tell you that the sign of good food is the number of servilletas on the floor at the bar? Well, that is what I orginally took it to mean. Just spoke with Mikel, a student from Donastia, {Euskal Herria (Basque country)}a native Basque, he tells me that is not necessarily the case – it is more that the saloon keeper doesn’t have time to clean up properly between patrons. I prefer my interpretation.

Every single place serves bocaterillas. Little sandwiches. Sandwich only in that it is something between two pieces of bread. The ham, be it Iberican or jamon serrano, is sliced as thin as toilet paper (a subject to which we will return). Sin mayonnaise (without mayo). Sometimes accompanied by a piece of roasted pepper.

I do love the tortilla. The American interpretation would be a potato and egg frittata. Always on the menu. Always a good thing to eat. Reliable.

Chivalry is DEAD here. In fact, most Spanish males are chauvinistic. Don’t let the door hit you in the face.

The gardens I have come across are pretty traditional……..bay laurels, impatiens, wax leaf begonias in the city square. A few New Zealand flax. In the Botanical Garden in Madrid, the rose garden was suffering from entirely too much shade. It is the 17th of October here, still about 80 degree (F) during the day, sunny until 7pm, no leaves are turning color yet.

Yesterday’s day trip was to the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Everyone says, “Don’t miss it!!!” Great, but not the same as, you must FIND it! As prominent as the Guggen looks in publications, promo pieces, and on postcards, you would think it would be visible from every vantage point is Bilbao. Not so. But find it we did, and were treated to a fab exposition, “300 Years of American Art.” No kidding. A nice little retrospective. Here is a bit from my favorite piece:

By Richard Prince, American artist born 1949, red words on an orange canvas:

It was New Year’s Eve and the house was brightly decorated with sprigs of holly and mistletoe. Only the clicking of Grandma’s knitting needles broke the silence. The children, Polly, eight, and Janice, six, were seated before the roaring fireplace leafing through a picture book. Then, they rose and went over to Grandma’s rocker. Polly climbed upon the arm of the chair and Janice snuggled into Grandma’s warm lap.

“Tell us a story, Grandma,” Janice pleaded.

“Oh,” said the old lady putting aside her knitting and wrapping her arms around the children, “what shall I tell you?”

Little Polly’s voice came gently, “Tell us about the time you were a whore in Chicago.”

And that, mis amigos and amigas, is when I became the typical bad mannered American. I was laughing out loud, snorting, and hooting. You can’t take me ANYWHERE!

and note to self, carry toilet paper with at all times.