Easter Celebration in Spain : Torrija

Locally known as Semana Santa (Holy Week), Easter is the most important celebration in Spain, and stands out for its epic brotherhoods’ processions and unique, age-old traditions specific to each region.

Srapallo, watercolor, Casa de las Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.
Srapallo, watercolor, Casa de las Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.

The atmosphere that characterizes the festivities is usually solemn, the picture spectacular, and everything seems fully immersed in emotion. Don’t let yourself be fooled, though – this is still Spain, which means neither the strong religious beliefs nor the somberness of the moment can hide the nation’s fervor for pomp and lively fiestas.

These being said, let’s take a closer look at the distinctive customs and traditions that accompany Semana Santa in various Spanish provinces.

Here, the most important Catholic holiday is commemorated with a week full of color, art, religious fervor, and extravagant processions. The most spectacular events take place in Malaga and Seville, where the streets are taken over by flamboyant parades and intricate religious displays depicting biblical scenes.

Like everywhere in Spain, the festivities begin on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and last until Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua), with the most dramatic and passionate parades held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

While the Semana Santa festivities in Andalusia are the most spectacular, the ones in Castile and León are often regarded as some of the most authentic, solemn, and austere in the entire country. Among the cities that hold remarkable processions are León, Zamora, Salamanca, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, and Valladolid.

This scrumptious calorific treat is traditionally eaten in Spain over Easter.

Madrid-based food blogger Anneke Kooijmans shares a recipe for the classic Spanish Easter dish Torrijas with The Local which she describes as “like French toast, but different…”

Srapallo, watercolor, Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.
Srapallo, watercolor, Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.

TORRIJAS
(Serves two)

Torrijas are a Spanish Easter dessert, they are like French Toast, but different.

Ingredients:

250 milliliters milk
Zest of one lemon
¼ bar of French bread, in thick slices
1 egg, lightly beaten, in a shallow bowl
Good quality olive oil
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup water
1 tablespoon honey
Kitchen towels

I hope you enjoy and Happy Easter!!!!!

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Santiago de Compostela (El camino) or The Way of St. James

This is my first blog in 2018. My last one was in June 2017. I had my personal journey fighting against cervical cancer last year and I had no energy whatsoever to post anything. Well, I’m still here! But after surgery in July and the beginning of chemo at the end of August, I’ve manage to travel to  Galícia and visited the city of Santiago de Compostela and the surroudings cities, Muxia, Ézaro, Carnota, Corcubión, Muros, Noia and also Finisterre, the last post of pilgrimage. I confess I didn’t do the whole “camino” but, you know, due to the circumstance at that particular moment of my life, I was happy just being there and somehow feeling blessed. Spain is a wonderful country to travel, full of history, wonderful food and spectacular wineries. It’s an energetic country to feel alive and enjoy living!! Something like “La Fiesta” therapy.

I love traveling by car. From Madrid to Santiago de Compostela is like 5.2 hours driving and the sightseeing change completely from the arid weather in Castilla La Mancha to a humid and ultra green meadows in Galicia. And I love eating fresh products from local producers. I specially recommend “O Graneiro de Amelia” (www.ograneirodeamelia.gal) where you can buy grains, species, dry nuts, teas and herbs. The colors, the smell of species and honey…. indescribable!!! And don’t forget to eat the Almond Tart, also a local food tradition.

There are eight main Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes in Spain:

Camino Frances – the busiest route.
Via de la Plata – the longest Camino.
Camino del Norte – along the sea.
Camino Ingles The English Road – the shortest Camino.
Camino Portugues, (finishes in Santiago de Compostela but starts in Portugal).
Camino Primitivo. the original one.

Even if you don’t do the Camino, visit the city, the Cathedral and also Santa Maria la Real de Sar, a medieval church from XVI Century. From the cathedral’s balcony you can contemplate the beauty of the roofs and the city’s skyline. Unfortunately the frontal cathedral’s facade (The Obradoiro) is being restored and only will be re-opening on 2023. Well, I’ll have to come back somehow!

The Way of St. James (El Camino) was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages. Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sancti Iacobi, “Saint James”.)

The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However, a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation, and political unrest in 16th century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims per year arrived in Santiago.

Most pilgrims carry a document called the credencial, purchased for a few euros from a Spanish tourist agency, a church or parish house on the route, a refugio, their church back home, or outside of Spain through the national St. James organization of that country. The credencial is a pass which gives access to inexpensive, sometimes free, overnight accommodation in refugios along the trail. Also known as the “pilgrim’s passport”, the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, and serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route, and thus that the pilgrim qualifies to receive a compostela (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage).

The “Way of St James” is marked by a scallop shell, a symbol of humility that also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl. The pilgrim’s staff is a walking stick used by pilgrims to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

Most often the stamp can be obtained in the refugio, cathedral, or local church. If the church is closed, the town hall or office of tourism can provide a stamp, as can nearby youth hostels or private St. James addresses. Many of the small restaurants and cafes along the Camino also provide stamps. Outside Spain, the stamp can be associated with something of a ceremony, where the stamper and the pilgrim can share information. As the pilgrimage approaches Santiago, many of the stamps in small towns are self-service due to the greater number of pilgrims, while in the larger towns there are several options to obtain the stamp.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiago_de_Compostela

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Goya – Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida – Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida

A must see chapel to visit in Madrid. What I love the most is all the angels depicted on the ceiling are women.

After his death aged 82 on April 16th 1828 (having failed to recover from falling down the stairs at his Cours de l’Intendance residence), Goya was buried in a tomb in the Chartreuse cemetery in central Bordeaux alongside his compatriot Martin Goicocchea, a former mayor of Madrid and father-in-law to Goya’s son Javier. In 1899, both bodies were exhumed to be transferred back to Spain. Neither body could be formally identified. For a start, Goya’s head had disappeared! It is believed that it was stolen by one of Goya’s former models, the Marques de San Adrian, who may have sought to understand the workings of Goya’s brain by doing some “hands-on” research. Goya’s head was never to be found. The two bodies were transported in a single coffin and buried with others first in Saragosse then transferred to a joint mausoleum at the Royal Chapel of Saint Anthony of La Florida in Madrid.

The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida (Spanish: Real Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida) is a Neoclassical chapel in central Madrid. The chapel is best known for its ceiling and dome frescoes by Goya. It is also his burial place. After his death aged 82 on April 16th 1828 (having failed to recover from falling down the stairs at his Cours de l’Intendance residence), Goya was buried in a tomb in the Chartreuse cemetery in central Bordeaux alongside his compatriot Martin Goicocchea, a former mayor of Madrid and father-in-law to Goya’s son Javier. In 1899, both bodies were exhumed to be transferred back to Spain. Neither body could be formally identified. For a start, Goya’s head had disappeared! It is believed that it was stolen by one of Goya’s former models, the Marques de San Adrian, who may have sought to understand the workings of Goya’s brain by doing some “hands-on” research. Goya’s head was never to be found. The two bodies were transported in a single coffin and buried with others first in Saragoza then transferred to a joint mausoleum at the Royal Chapel of Saint Anthony of La Florida in Madrid

Goya’s fresco depicting the legend of Saint Anthony reviving a dead man

The chapel was built in the general location of two prior chapels built in the 1730s, which were on the land of a farm called La Florida. The present structure was built by Felipe Fontana from 1792 to 1798 on the orders of King Carlos IV, who also commissioned the frescoes by Goya and his assistant Asensio Juliá.The structure was declared a national monument in 1905. In 1919 Goya’s remains were transferred here from Bordeaux, where he had died in 1828. In 1928 an identical chapel was built alongside the original, in order to allow the original to be converted into a museum.On every June 13, the chapel becomes the site of a lively pilgrimage in which young unwed women come to pray to Saint Anthony and to ask for a partner. The frescoes by Goya were completed over a six-month period in 1798. The frescoes portray miracles by Saint Anthony of Padua. On the main cupola of the chapel Goya depicted Saint Anthony raising a dead man; instead of portraying the scene as occurring in thirteenth-century Lisbon, Goya relocated the miracle to contemporary Madrid.

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Plaza de Olavide – Chamberi

SRapallo, Dog 1, watercolor and ink, 2017
SRapallo, Dog 1, watercolor and ink, 2017

Plaza de Olavide

 

Again a enjoyable place located in my neighborhood, Chamberi. We go there a lot, specially on weekends. When my daughter came to visit, she took some pictures of dogs and children playing. Later on I used the pictures she took as a reference photos. This is an all-in one plaza for me: coffee-shops, a jazz club, bars, restaurants, an ice cream parlor, a drugstore and a hotel. There is also a playground for children and a tiny bookstore in the center of the plaza which specializes in used books and vintage post cards and pictures of Madrid.

What I love about it is that, on one hand, it is your neighborhood plaza. Not just the place to sit for a drink or to have brunch, but also where people take their children after school, or where they walk their dogs while reading the newspaper. And on the other hand, Plaza de Olavide is the starting point of a night out on the town because many cool clubs and restaurants are in this same area. It has it all, daytime activities and nighttime fun.

Its location also helps to make it even more charming, because is at a walking distance from Gran Vía and very close to Plaza Colón. Also pedestrian street Fuencarral, filled with all kinds of shops, is 10 min away. It would seem busy and noisy at times, but it could also feel quiet and calm at certain hours. It depends on what you want to do, but it is definitely worth a visit.

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Coffea

 For the sake of Coffee – Pelo bem do Café

SRapallo, Before & After Coffee
SRapallo, Before & After Coffee, watercolor, Madrid, 2017.

I´m absolutely fan of coffee, since infancy.  Well, Brazil is a coffee country and I remember that scenting the smell of strong coffee in the mornings at home was one of the best memories I have. I love everything about coffee: that comfort smell, the beautiful dark brownish/blackish color and the strong and vibrant taste of coffee.

Coffee is appreciated in many different ways in different countries. The Brazilians love dark short coffee, not frothy… but with sugar (Ugh… I hate it!). The Americans love something that tastes like coffee but it´s large and watery like tea,  Italians love extremely strong coffee called ristretto usually with cannoli, English people like tea, not coffee. French people like coffee too – no milk, maybe sugar – from a bowl. There is something great about grabbing a bowl with both hands and plunging your face into it. They like to take their coffee with a tartine, a piece of toasted baguette topped with butter and lumps of homemade jam.  And they love to dip it into the coffee, something that I used to love when I was a child.

Here in Spain, it´s a mess… they have so many names for coffee, considering the right amount of coffee and milk: café solo (espresso) very strong –  I mean unbearable!… I called it ¨caffeine shot¨  and it is as stronger as the regular Italian ristretto; café cortado is called so because the shot of espresso is “cut” with some steamed milk—but only some, as there’s more coffee than milk; café con leche is equal parts espresso and steamed milk, this is the best of both worlds; café manchado (“stained coffee”) is kind of confusing, because it’s really a cortado that has been stained with milk. But this coffee is more appropriately leche manchada (“stained milk”) because this drink is mostly steamed milk with a little bit of espresso, not quite an entire shot. Very milky with a little coffee flavor, this is for you folks who like to drink coffee but don’t actually like coffee and finally café americano, you add hot water to a shot of espresso.

If you crave coffee means you are Despresso…Desperate for a Espresso! If you know how to  make fancy types of coffee, then you are a Barista,… I´m a Certified Barista, BTW. I took classes some years ago, in Brazil. But nowadays a just press a button and get my coffee immediately. But I love gadgets and I have some of them to prepare stylish coffee if I´m in a mood.

If you like coffee or not it does not matter… but I invite you to watch 3 short movies about coffee a photographic journey through coffee growing countries, by Sebastião Salgado.

SALGADO: “SCENT OF A DREAM”, A JOURNEY IN THE COFFEE WORLD

http://www.illy.com/wps/wcm/connect/en/art/sebastiao-salgado

Playlist: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee on Spotify

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(Portuguese)

Sou fã de café desde que era pequena. Brasil é um grande produtor de café e o cheiro forte de café banhando a casa pela manhã é uma das melhores memórias que eu tenho de infância. Eu gosto de tudo que tem no café; o cheiro de café forte, a cor amaronzada e negra e seu gosto forte e vibrante. Brasileiros gostam de café puro, sem creme… mas, com açúcar (Huh… Detesto!). Norte-americanos gostam de algo parecido a café, mas a quantidade é demasiada e muito diluído, algo parecido com chá, italianos gostam de café forte, chamado ristretto e geralmente acompanhado de cannoli, ingleses não gostam muito de café, preferem chá. Franceses gostam muito de café largo, não muito aguado como os norte-americanos – sem leite, talvez com um pouco de açúcar – numa caneca bem grande. Existe algo nostálgico em se beber café com as duas mãos e quase que colocar a cara inteira dentro da xícara. A razão pela qual a xícara é grande é porque eles adoram molhar o pão com manteiga e geléia (tartine) na xícara. Uma coisa que eu adorava fazer quando era pequena, molhar o pão com manteiga no café com leite.

Aqui na Espanha, é uma confusão para acertar exatamente que tipo e quantidade de café vc quer. O tradicional Espresso é simplesmente fortíssimo… imbebível! Costumo chamá-lo de ¨shot de cafeína¨, tão forte quanto o ristretto italiano. Café cortado é chamado assim por causa do corte de leite que se dá no café – mas a proporção continua sendo mais café do que leite; café con leche  são partes iguais de café e leite, o melhor dos mundos; café manchado (“stained coffee”)  é confuso, parecidíssimo com o café cortado, ou o manchado com leite. Para mim são sinônimos; e temos ainda a leche manchada (“stained milk”) que é o inverso: leite morna manchada com café, acrescentando café até que fique na cor que o freguês gosta; e finalmente, café americano, em que se acrescenta água quente, diluindo o espresso, até que fique ao gosto do freguês.

Se vc está com abstinência de café diz-se que vc está Despresso…Desesperado por um Espresso! – Bom, essa piadinha não pega bem em Português. Se vc sabe preparar diversos tipos de café então vc é um Barista,… Eu sou uma Barista, por falar nisso. Fiz o curso há alguns anos atrás, no Brasil. Mas hoje em dia  eu simplesmente aperto um botão para saborear um café. Mas como adoro acessórios baristas, tenho alguns para poder preparar um café com mais estilo se estiver com vontade.

Se vc gosta ou não de café, pouco importa, mas eu o convido para assistir 3 curta metragens muito bonitos sobre os países produtores de café, um ensaio do fotógrafo Sebastião Salgado.

SALGADO: “O CHEIRO DE UM SONHO”, UMA JORNADA NO MUNDO DO CAFÉ

http://www.illy.com/wps/wcm/connect/en/art/sebastiao-salgado

Trilha sonora: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee  – Spotify

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Caipirinha

Caipirinha

SRapallo, Caipirinha, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Caipirinha, watercolor, 2017

I decide to make a typical Brazilian drink called Caipirinha, that’s usually made with Cachaça and lime, but this not exactly fizzy, but… well I wanna do it fizzy anyway. You can make it with vodka too but in Brazil we drink it with Cachaça, which is made with sugar cane.  Here you can find the recipe.

First, a pronunciation lesson:

Caipirinha: Kai-Pee-Reen-Ya

Cachaça: Ka-Shah-Suh

Those words are Brazil’s most popular cocktail and its native spirit, respectively. Cachaça is Brazilian rum that is made from the fermented juice of sugarcane, as opposed to most rum that is made from molasses, the byproduct of sugar production. Cachaça is often more robustly flavored and vegetal than traditional white rums, but not always.

The Caipirinha is a rustic form of a Daiquiri: just rum, sugar, and lime. But the rum is cachaça, the sugar is usually raw and the limes are muddled and left in the drink.

Caipirinha

2 fl. oz. Cachaça
Half a lime, quartered
2 tsp. Sugar

Place lime wedges and sugar in a rocks glass. With a muddler press down and twist the limes to release the juice (and the oils in the peel). Add crushed ice, then cachaça and stir the drink. Fill up with ice.

***
Most cachaça made in Brazil is industrial in nature and flavor. It’s a rough spirit so the bits of lime pulp, oils from the peel, and a more robustly flavored brown sugar soften it. When using a more refined cachaça (see below) I tend to use simple syrup and sometimes I even strain the drink and serve it in a cocktail glass, just like a Daiquiri.

Flavored Caipirinhas are another popular way to serve the spirit. Take whatever berry or fruit is in season and throw it into the glass with the limes to muddle it together. Should you host a muddle-your-own-Caipirinha party this summer, you can put out a variety of fresh ingredients for people to mix, much like a build-your-own-Bloody Mary bar.

The Caipirinha has become a global cocktail, popular in nightclubs and beach parties around the world. In Germany the drink has been popular for more than a decade. In the US, refined, boutique brands of cachaça including Leblon, Cabana, and Sagatiba help make the drink a little more elegant. They bring cachaça and the Caipirinha off the beach and into the cocktail bar.

Now we just need to practice their pronunciation so the bartender will understand us when we order one.

Source: http://www.finecooking.com/item/31197/the-caipirinha-fun-to-make-easy-to-drink-hard-to-pronounce