Life always furnishes sufficient reason to
complain, I suppose, but in a larger sense, complaining is quite
unbecoming when other people are worse off. As someone who still works
as a professor of Political Science, I can assure you that others are always
worse, off—even setting aside times like the present (when a major
democracy is being brutally invaded because a neighboring jackass tyrant
covets it, but then decides to trash the place like a three-year-old in
full tantrum mode when it refuses to simply capitulate).
But I digress, which all of you who are college grads know that
professors are liable to do at any given moment. Back to my wine job.
I flew all night and day to reach Spain today, dealing with public
health procedures and forms from three distinct nations (I connected
through Germany), so this trip was not without its irksome elements
while I was in transit. But no complaining. The process got me to
Spain for the first time since Covid hit, and Spain is so marvelous in
so many ways.
Spain’s possibilities are best appreciated after some seasoning, and I’m
pretty well seasoned after 20+ trips here, including one during which I
met my wife. I could definitely stand a lot more seasoning, and I look
forward to becoming ever more experienced and comfortable here, but
here’s a vignette that give you a sense of what I mean by
I’m a terrible sleeper under any conditions, so I arrived in Madrid at
3:30 p.m. local time today quite thoroughly trashed. But the airport was
very efficient, and a very nice taxi driver whisked me to my hotel (in a
on the banks of a major freeway) quickly and for just 30 Euros…which
seemed like a much better idea than trying to figure out the subway with
my cerebral capacity running at about 10%.
Knowing better than to even look at the bed (as I have an early
appointment to be picked up but stellar winemaker Isaac Fernandez at 8
a.m. tomorrow), I set out on what I call a “Zombie Arrival Day” walk to
secure provisions for the days ahead.
It bears repeating that I’m in a business district that is divided by a
giant freeway and its tributaries, but no matter: This being Madrid,
there are apartment buildings everywhere, and this being Madrid, the
locals care deeply about what they eat.
You can see the results of my Zombie Arrival Day provisioning in the
photo included here. Working almost exclusively with little
neighborhood purveyors, I was easily able to cobble together the meal
you behold in less than 45 minutes, thanks to a baker, a charcutier,
(sorry that I only know the term in French), a couple of small grocers,
a wine bar that sold me some local favorites for prices far below USA
retail (plus their proprietary wine glasses, because the Spanish do NOT
like to refuse customers, however outlandish the request), and a couple
of utility shops that sold me an 85-cent corkscrew, a 95-cent dinner
plate, and flatware in sets of three knives, forks and spoons for the
Euro equivalent of 95-cents each.
Circling back to my opening theme, eating dinner in a generic hotel room
while zonked out of one’s mind from sleep deprivation and jet lag—over
a computer-—is not anybody’s sense of a peak experience. But again, no
complaining. The upshot of my afternoon is that there is almost no
conceivable scenario in which you can’t eat well in Spain. The wines
and foods of both France and Italy remain much more widely appreciated
among Americans than those of Spain, but the truth is that Spain remains
the most intensely food-loving nation in the Europe—and is arguably the
single most fun place anywhere on the globe to eat and drink.
* * *
If you want to know anything about what’s on my 95-cent plate or in my glasses, just send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org