Memory is such a curious ‘thing’. I can at times quickly remember the most irrelevant trivia, some birthdays and where I have left my glasses. At the end of September, I organized my visit to family in Ottawa so that I would be back for a much anticipated friends’ end of summer barbecue (primarily of David’s Chinese delicacies), only to forget to show up. Dear friends – so forgiving! And a beloved nephew is still unsure of how beloved I am after forgetting to bring a sincerely requested apple pie (which I did make) to dinner at his home. Oh well, I do, for whatever reason, have a great geographical memory.
I returned today to the town of L’Escala on the Mediterranean within an hour of Besalú. I was here in April, discovered those two sculptures of La Sardana, featured in my first two posts, and ate a memorable lunch: a plate of mussels in a savoury sauce and a dish of paella marinera. I told the young man serving that I was really indifferent to the typical paella in Spain, paella valenciana, the one with saffron rice. He recommended the local variation, very dark, very savoury, full of seafood, absolutely worth returning for. I remembered exactly where the restaurant was, overlooking the sea, and the young waiter. And, he remembered me, charming young man. I don’t really believe that he was making it up. We had talked quite a bit together in April. Now for the photos and minimal narration.
First course was a plate of 15-16 fresh grilled sardines, complete with their heads.
I did justice to the plate, without any help. Step by step becoming a Spaniard.
Here is Isaac presenting me with the paella marinera – it’s dark colour comes from cuttlefish ink. In Spanish, the fish is sépia. You can see the English word for the colour of early photographs.
It was full of seafood – large mussels, two large prawns and calamari galore. During the meal, bags of mussels etc were being delivered, from this day’s catch. Isaac explained that L’Escala is still primarily a working town depended on the harvest from the sea. Tourists do come, but it is clearly not a tony Mediterranean resort. Definitely why I came back.
Thank heavens that the dishes and the young server are photogenic. It’s 6pm, I’m in my hotel. I do think that I will need a long walk before the restaurants re-open for supper at 8:30. This post could have been about last evening’s supper, an amazing risotto with wild mushrooms and local sausage. But the server was not nearly as charming!