Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Politically Correct in Andalusia

So I'm standing at the bar at Juan Peña in Córdoba, eating the best fried eggplant in the world and a delicious asparagus salmorejo, because all the tables are taken. And I'm surrounded by caballeros--those utterly recognizable Spanish men whose bellies stick out over the pants their wives pressed for them that morning and who are given to walking in the street with their hands clutched behind their back.

There is far too much eggplant, so I offer some to a caballero. He asks me if I'm on vacation, and when I say no, he asks what kind of work I do. When I tell him I'm a journalist, he asks if I'm a bullfight critic, a perfectly reasonable assumption since it is feria. I tell him no, but that I (truthfully we) did write a story once about a bullfighter. I couldn't remember his name. "He's French," I said, "and Muslim." The caballero turns to one of his buddies. "What's the name of that torero?" he asks. "You know, el moro."

Only in Spain is the word "Muslim" interchangeable with "Moor."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Eating seasonally

I pulled up to the cemetery on my way back to the molino the other day, and ran into José María, our contractor, with one of his Romanian assistants. At first I thought he had come to collect the bill for the tiling, but then I saw the bulging plastic bags he and Vlad were carrying. This being spring, I had of course noticed that the cemetery walls were, well, crawling with snails. But I hadn't realized that anybody else had noticed. Nor, to be honest, did I realize that these things I tried not to crunch underfoot on my daily walk with Levon were somebody else's lunch.

José María opened his bag somewhat sheepishly to show me his haul, as if he had been caught with his hand in someone else's cookie jar. What could I say, but buen provecho?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Why I Won't Be Voting for the IU

Not that I can vote here. But if I could, the fact that crews began setting up a stage for the IU (United Left party) campaign kickoff in the plaza outside our apartment at 4am, with much pounding and hammering, would make me think twice. And the fact that they hired what can only be described as a Spanish hair band—one whose guitars were screeching well into the night—to attract the youth vote would certainly give me pause. But then, a bit after midnight, Gaspar Llamazares and other party leaders got up on stage, held hands and swayed back an forth to their anthem, which I had hoped would be the Internationale, but sounded suspiciously like a Spanish version of "We are the World."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Stand by your woman

Back when the government decided to convert ETA member Iñaki de Juana's sentence to house arrest in order to save his life after a 4-month hunger strike, the PP claimed that the decision would lead to hundreds of other nefarious prisoners going on hunger strikes in order to get the same treatment. And what do you know, they were right. On Friday, one day after his beloved was arrested, Julián Muñoz, former waiter-turned-former-mayor, started a hunger strike. His motivation isn't clear, but we can imagine the noble cause for which he has jeapordized his very life. Just call him the Mahatma of Marbella

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Stand by your man

Once, she was known as the widow of Spain. Isabel Pantoja, singer, (yes, of cancion española, how could you tell?) was married to Paquirri and pregnant with his child when the famous bullfighter died in the ring at Pozoblanco. She grieved, oh how she grieved. And then, many years later, her son grown into an overweight, balding teenager with no job, La Pantoja fell in love again.

So what if her new love, Julian Muñoz, was married? So what if he happened to be mayor of Marbella? There was no need to hide: she was in love. The two of them danced sevillanas together, held hands as they walked through the street, eventually moved in together. Apparently that's not all they did together.

Because when the police came to search Muñoz's house last spring as part of a corruption bust that would send the entire city government past and present of Marbella to prison, they found, oh, $50,000 in cash lying around. Julian has been in jail for the past year, and now, as of this morning, Isabel will join him there.