Thursday, January 22, 2009

Amuse Bouche: Barcelona

NOTE: This is part of an onging series of articles concerning my Europe trip. See below for links to the previous articles:


Just a quick article here:

I wanted to give a little bit more flesh to the article about Barcelona; maybe some more editorial comments about Barcelona, as well as our experiences there. The main lessons I took away from Barcelona was their attitude towards food, the importance, as Epicurus said, "Of not just what you eat, but with whom you eat it", and the pleasures of simple things.

Barcelonians, as I talked about in my previous article, devote the "proper" amount of respect to their food. What this means to me, is that they think about what they are eating, and with whom they eat it. I saw very little fast food in Barcelona; very little food, even, that could be eaten easily without sitting down. And that is the cornerstone of the quote above from Epicurus. Barcelonians, and Europeans in general, understand the importance of food as both a social gathering and as a necessity to live. Their culture, especially leisurely mealtimes, that last a long time, with many bottles of wine, reflect their view of the importance of the social ties that are generated through the shared experience of dining.


To wit: the picture above. At the beginning of the trip, we immediately felt this different culture of slowing down and savoring both the experience of dining with good friends, as well as the actual food. I think that is a lesson many in the world do not take away. That is the idea of taking activities that you have to perform, such as eating, and turning them into a pleasurable experience. I have found that as I try to apply this philosophy more and more that tasks that are neutral, to even mildly unpleasant, can become a simple pleasure in life is you stop and think about how you can enjoy that experience more. Often, its not much more difficult than taking a deep breath and looking around you.

End of philosophy! Here are some photos to give a sense of place to the Spanish restaurants.

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Above: A menu of a bar where we went on our last morning for breakfast. You can see breakfast is 2.70 euro for a bocadillo and a drink. I cannot overstate how delicious a bocadilla de tortilla and some coffee of "chocolate fuerte"(literally: "strong chocolate") is when you just wake up.

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Above: a bocadilla with Tortilla Espanol. Nummy.

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Above: One of my favorite things about Europe: the signs advertising the menu. These are a visual representation of the "personality" of the restaurant, in my view. The font, the way it is decorated, all of these things give one subconscious cues about the restaurant.

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