Monday, February 4, 2008
Birthday (1) - Preparations
In life, it’s always important to have a Plan B. My father never tires of telling me this. Really, I think he’d probably be happy with a reasonable Plan A, but since he often doesn’t much like Plan A, he emphasizes Plan B.
This Sunday, Dad, I’m pleased to tell you that a Plan B (well, actually Plan C) was not only conceived, but was carried out with great success--well, quite good success, which is your best hope for Plan C.
Sunday was my birthday. My first birthday in Barcelona. A lot rides on first birthdays in a new place. In a sense, birthdays away are a measure of how well you’re adapting and it was important to me to have a good plan. As it happened, I ended up with several.
Plan A: Since in Spain it’s customary to throw your own birthday party, invite all available friends in Barcelona for grand birthday lunch at home. Impediments to Plan A: Of the handful of friends I have in Barcelona, none were planning to be around on Sunday.
Plan B: Check into expensive hotel and spend the day being pampered. Really, what I envisioned were clean sheets, a television with many channels and somebody bringing me things to eat whenever I picked up the phone. Impediments to Plan B: After making a reservation at Gran Hotel La Florida for the day, spasms of fear over impending destitution forced me to cancel the booking.
Plan C: Pamper myself with food and celebrate by participating in Carnaval festivities in Barcelona and Sitges. There were no anticipated impediments to Plan C; however, preparations were required.
Prepartions comprised, first, a thorough cleaning of my apartment on Saturday with the goal of giving myself the gift of freshly laundered sheets; a bath ready tub (I never take baths, but who knew what kind of strange impulses might overtake me on my birthday); and a sparkling, organized kitchen, in which it would be a pleasure to cook. Second, a trip to the markets: the Boqueria (Las Ramblas, Barrio Gotico), Barcelona’s most famous market, for fresh strawberries, red currants and what I refer to as goose berries, but what are really a mysterious orange fruit that no one can ever confidently name; and the artisanal food market (pictured above), which takes place every second weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in front of Santa Maria del Pi (Barrio Gotico). At the latter, tasting all sorts of interesting and yummy things at each stall, I bought two types of goat cheese, walnuts in acacia honey, membrillo (quince) paste, tomato and vanilla confit, chestnut marmalade, a piece of traditional Catalan cheesecake and some dark chocolate. I also picked up fresh flowers and a bottle of pretty decent if slightly tart Syrah, the latter on the recommendation of a sweet shop boy.
As final preparatory acts before I went to bed on my birthday eve, I set the table for breakfast and I shaved my legs. Who knew what might come to pass.
(To be continued in the next post.)