I’m in the midst of one of the most relaxingly days in recent memory. I have the day entirely free from the bike so more than anything I’m trying to meld into my surroundings. By that I mean that I only recently arrived to Europe and I already leave for the Tour of Suisse tomorrow, so these precious hours are spent adapting to the new time zone, the new climate, and (ahem) the day’s regularity — highly important for a professional cyclist on the go. So far so excellent.
(It’s worth your time to visit the Tour of Suisse website because I’m that handsome devil leading the pack. Good work ToSuisse webmaster!)
Perhaps you’re now wondering how does one occupy a day off the bike here in Girona. Or maybe you’re not wondering that at all, and if so then just click on this link and watch this highly entertaining video.
The morning routine involves making coffee, some reading, and a vigorous half hour of core, stretching, and getting limber in order to vigorously tackle the day ahead. With that out of the way, I visited the local Red Market. This is among central pillars of town and a magnet for locals, tourists, and everyone in between. I’m all the more entertained when I therefore Google “red market Girona” and find that iamtedking.com provides the first three hits. Internet victory!
Stone fruit is currently KILLING IT. (Translation: stone fruit is very much in season) So these first three days on the Continent have been spent buying and consuming peaches of all varieties, nectarines, apricots, and cherries. Then more peaches.
Interacting with the local old lady vendors is a fun exercise and I generally want to leave every conversation by giving these mujers a high five. But I don’t. Instead I then decide that I want to take a picture of all the heads of animals I see in the market. Just a reminder, this “Red Market” is primarily vending fruit, vegetables, seafood, spices and frutas secas, meat, poultry, and so forth. Each station sticks to what it knows, so there are some veggie only sections, fruit only, fruit and veg, red meat, all meat, dairy, etc. But the local red meat dealer isn’t going to be selling fresh figs just as the spice lady isn’t going to sell lamb. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but now you know.
Back in America with the exception of lobster, we pretty much never see the heads of the protein we’re eating. In fact, lobster is a two-fer since we virtually never see the animal alive so close to consumption time and even more rarely do we kill the animals themselves. To me (and presumably most of the world) there’s something off-puttingly sterile about that. If you’re going to eat an animal, you may as well be at least mildly invested in it. You should know that it was once a living, breathing creature, and is contributing – voluntarily or otherwise – to the circle of life. To YOUR circle of life no less. Anyway, here are a collection of heads from today.
Returning home and having eaten most of the fruit in my satchel en route, I then gave myself a hair cut. Heading to a bike race with recently shortened hair is my psychological advantage. Having not won a race in a while, maybe I need to up the ante and shave my head or look for a new psychological advantage. More reading ensued and then it was time to venture back into town for a few more checks on the To-Do list. Two postcards written and one cappuccino later (why my cappuccino says “ONE” is beyond me)…
…I then went to the Vodafone store and recharged my Spanish cell phone with twenty Euros worth of pre-paid-goodness. What normally should have taken 45 seconds turned into a 45 minute trip because there’s something wanky with my phone. Forgive me, but it’s a Blackberry so wankiness is the least of what I would expect. That said, considering this entire interaction took place in Spanish AND the fact that it was ultimately resolved makes this a successful trip.
It’s funny, if this were an example of my day in America I surely would consider it frustratingly slow. The relative inefficiency of the European market as compared to the simple and ginormous American supermarket, and the near hour it took to resolve the issue at Vodafone would drive me bonkers if the Atlantic were to my east. But there’s something charming about it in Europe. Or maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic entirely too proud of my rudimentary dozen-years-removed-from-high-school-level Spanish.
On the trip home for lunch, I went to the clothes store. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted this hat. Actually I can: I wanted it, but not badly enough to buy it. Plus I’m not very good at cricket.
Lunch time! With altogether too much pasta on the horizon at a week-long bike race, I decided that a protein and iron rich lunch was in store. Below you will find a nice cut of steak (fairly central), a pair of petite livers — one rabbit and one chicken (resting on the fork and to the right and hidden underneath), beets two ways (chopped to the left and that shredded pickled kind in the foreground), mushrooms (central and far away), black tomatoes (right). T’was divine.
Not much else to report. I’ve written about 45 emails today, researched real estate back stateside, did laundry, Skyped with some friends, considered starting to pack, watched the tail end of a bike race, watched the end of Argo, and thought long and hard about the avocado and banana recipes as found here. Post Tour of Suisse recovery food? I think so. It’s nearly 4pm, so this being Spain I still have half the day ahead of me.
Best news of the day is that I found maple syrup here in Girona in my first attempt looking for it on this return trip. Canadian. Sure it’s not New England’s liquid gold, but it’s extracted exclusively from a tree and therefore entirely worthy. Better yet, it’s C-grade, which I’m yet to have ever seen in America. Coincidentally it’s also arguably the best since it’s thick like warm molasses and the color of used motor oil. Ironically C-grade is dirt cheap by American standards while in America. Yet probably ten times the price it would be in America when you buy it here in Spain. It reasons as much since it surely costs a lot to ship thick motor oil across the Atlantic.
If this doesn’t make you happy or hungry or want to visit Spain… then dang, I don’t think we can be friends.