Nearly ten summers have passed since we left England to settle in our little Spanish mountain village.
“What do you want to do for your birthday this year?” I asked Joe.
“Hmm… I think just a day at the beach. Perhaps go somewhere for a meal afterwards?”
“You don’t want to do anything different?”
“Nope. No surprises please, I don’t want any fuss. Right, I’m off to collect the eggs and I hope they’ve laid some decent ones for a change.”
We have only four chickens now and although elderly, they provide us with more than enough eggs.But there is a problem. One of our hens has suddenly begun to lay eggs with no yolk. When one cracks an egg into a basin ready to whip into a creamy, yellow scrambled egg, it’s a bit of a shock. A breakfast egg with no yolk is no joke. We’ve kept chickens since we moved to El Hoyo, and we’ve never encountered this problem before. Friends on Facebook told me that these eggs are known as ‘fart eggs’, and the Internet informed me that it occasionally occurs with aged chickens.
“Why don’t you make meringues or an egg-white omelet?” people suggested.
But we just can’t bring ourselves to use these yolkless eggs. They look so unpleasant. We recognise the dodgy ones by their slightly rougher shells, so when Joe collects the eggs, he puts them into a carrier bag ready to throw away.
We spent Joe’s birthday on the beach and had a lovely meal at a beachside restaurant. It was still light as we drove back up the mountain to our village.
“I’ve had a lovely birthday,” he said.
“And it’s about to get even better!”
“Is it? Why?” Joe stole a suspicious glance at me, before concentrating again on the winding road ahead.
“Wait and see. When we get to the next bend in the road, the one nearly at the top of the mountain, stop the car.”
“Do you want to look at the view?”
“Yes, but something else as well. A surprise.”
“You know I don’t like surprises.”
“You’ll enjoy this one.”
There’s a handy lay-by at the side of the road with enough room to park the car and enjoy the glorious view. In front stretched the Mediterranean sea, blue and dotted with tiny boats. Below us the cliff dropped, great rocky crags jutting out at crazy angles.
“So why have we stopped? What’s the surprise?”
I opened the back of the car and lifted out a carrier bag.
“Eggs,” I said. “Let’s throw the eggs at the rocks below.”
Swimming, sunbathing, a nice meal, and finally hurling eggs, one by one, over a cliff and watching them smash on the rocks beneath.
Joe agreed it was the perfect end to his birthday.
Spanish Flamenco Eggs
(Huevos a la Flamenco)
5 minutes preparation, 35 to 40 minutes cooking
Flamenco eggs, so named because this dish is packed with Spanish heat and colour. A vibrant dish, very easy to make, perfect for using up leftover or excess vegetables. Other ingredients might include green beans, wild asparagus, broccoli, sweet potato, butternut squash, etc.
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 400g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
2 large floury potatoes
4 large fresh eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes.
2. Place in a pan of boiling, salted water and parboil until just tender (about 8 minutes).
3. In a large terracotta cazuela or skillet, fry the onion, garlic and peppers in olive oil until soft.
5. Add the tomatoes to the cazuela, season, then add the cooked potatoes. Mix well.
5. Using a wooden spoon, create four indents in the mixture.
6. Crack one egg into each indent.
7. Cook in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the eggs are done.
8. Serve with fresh crusty bread and a glass of good red wine.
Victoria Twead is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía, where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, and was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers.
Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.
The Telegraph– "a colourful glimpse of Andalucían life. And a psychopathic chicken or two…charming…funny"
Read Victoria's other Expat Focus articles here.