“What’s that buzzing noise?” I asked Joe as we sat in the kitchen drinking coffee. “It sounds like a giant bee trapped somewhere.”
“I don’t know. It seems like it’s coming from the dishwasher. How can a bee be trapped in the dishwasher?”
The buzzing increased in volume as we peered anxiously at the dishwasher. We opened it gingerly. No bee. Then the buzzing changed to alarming crackling noises. Bright flashes and smoke appeared from behind the dishwasher.
“Something’s on fire!”Joe hauled the dishwasher out, revealing flames flaring from the electrical socket on the wall. Quickly, he grabbed a towel and smothered them.
“What on earth caused that?” I asked after we’d fanned the smoke outside and muted the fire alarms. The plug was blackened and melted, it was impossible to be sure of the cause. But the emergency make me think. What if we hadn’t been there? What if the fire had happened at night? What if the flames had reached the gas bottle that feeds the hob, next to the dishwasher? I guess that would have been the end of the old fools.
What caused the fire remains a mystery, but it was a wake-up call. I’ve added ‘more fire alarms’ and ‘fire extinguisher’ to our shopping list. Joe’s checked all the other electrical sockets in the house. I’ve planned escape routes from the house in case fire cuts off normal exits, and made the seldom used back door key accessible. I’ve made a mental note of the emergency number, 112, and written it in huge letters on our kitchen blackboard. I hope we never need that number, and anyway, I dread to think how long it would take a fire engine to reach our mountain village.
So, the emergency was averted, and the old fools remain intact. But that buzzing sound is still in my head. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to hear a buzzing bee without thinking our house is on fire?
Croquetas de jamón
Makes around 20 croquettes
~ 5 minutes preparation ~
~ 60 to 90 minutes cooking (includes cooling time ~
Croquettes have been around for generations in Spain, but they don’t hang around for long in our house… Although a little time consuming to make, they can be prepared a day in advance, and brought out at the last minute for cooking.
100g (31⁄2 oz) serrano ham
75g (2.6 oz) plain flour
75ml (21⁄2 US fl.oz) extra-virgin olive oil
1 litre (34 US fl.oz) milk
Olive oil (for frying)
1 ) Chop the ham into small pieces.
2 ) Warm the milk.
3 ) Add the warm milk to an unheated frying pan and mix in the flour and oil. Slowly stir until there are no lumps.
4 ) Place the pan over a medium heat and add the ham, a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and begins to come away from the edges of the pan.
5 ) Transfer the mixture into a shallow square dish and leave to cool.
6 ) When the mixture is cool, cut into equal sized pieces. Mould the pieces into oval shapes.
7 ) Dip each piece into the beaten eggs and then roll in breadcrumbs. For extra crispy croquettes, you can repeat this step again.
8 ) In a small deep pan, heat the olive oil until very hot. You need enough oil to cover the croquettes. Fry in batches, turning once, until golden brown.
9 ) Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.
10 ) Get one while you can, as they won’t last long!
“a charming and funny expat tale” The Telegraph (UK)
“Weeks later you will be doing the dishes and recall some fleeting scene with chickens or mules or two old fools and laugh out loud all over again.” The Catalunya Chronicle