It all began last month when I got up in the middle of the night and came to the kitchen for a glass of water. I switched on the light and, to my horror, saw black shapes scuttling into the shadows. Cockroaches! I ran back to the bedroom and woke Joe.
“Joe! We’ve got cockroaches in the kitchen!”
“Wah? We got wah? Right…” and he resumed his snoring.
In the morning I reminded him about our little problem and, this time, he was much more attentive.
“How many did you see?”
“How many is ‘loads’?””Well, there must have been about…six.”
“Hmm… Not exactly a plague then?”
“Don’t be facetious. I’ve just googled ‘cockroaches’. I read that if you see a few, then it’s likely there are dozens more around, hidden. ”
I packed Joe off down the mountain to buy some cockroach killer. He came back with a flat contraption into which we had to place small poison-blocks. The following morning, I found two corpses on the floor. Well, it was a start.
In England, cockroaches rarely crossed my mind. I didn’t know much about these resilient creatures, but now I could probably answer questions about them on Mastermind. There are three main types of cockroach; the American, Oriental and German. Did you know that a cockroach can live for a week without its head, can run at 3 miles an hour, and can hold its breath for 40 minutes? Did you know cockroaches have 18 knees, and that their mouths work sideways? All very interesting, but it didn’t help with the extermination of the wretched things in our kitchen.
Every morning produced a few more corpses, but I knew that was just the tip of the iceberg. Again I sent poor Joe down the mountain for more cockroach killer. This time, he returned with cans of spray.
“Spray?” I asked. “Are we supposed to stay up all night in the dark, and spray them as they appear?”
“Don’t be ridiculous – read the side of the can.”
So I read the modo de empleo carefully and, that night, followed the instructions to the letter. I sprayed at floor level, all around the edges of the room, paying particular attention to the gaps beside the cooker and fridge. Success! My efforts bore fruit. Twenty carcasses awaited me the next morning. Shuddering, I swept them up, noticing that a few were still alive, lying on their backs, their legs (and all 18 knees) still twitching.
Every morning produced more corpses, but the numbers were declining very satisfactorily. After a week, I’d used three cans and disgusting black bodies no longer littered the kitchen floor. I disinfected all the kitchen cupboards (cockroaches can climb and fly) and heaved a huge sigh of relief.
I confess to having a sneaky admiration for the cucaracha. They’ve been around for millions of years, and scientists maintain they’d survive a nuclear blast. However, that doesn’t mean I welcome them into my kitchen. Believe me, if one so much as pokes its head out from behind the cooker, it’s dead.
Mouth-Watering Spanish Recipes
Makes 8 to 10 glasses
~ 15 minutes preparation ~
~ 2 to 3 hours chilling ~
750ml (251⁄2 US fl.oz) dry white wine
700ml (231⁄2 US fl.oz) sparkling apple (or pear) cider
300ml (10 US fl.oz) soda water
2 peaches washed, pitted and sliced
2 pears, washed, cored and sliced
1 small green apple, washed, cored and sliced (Granny Smith is best)
1 small orange, sliced
1 small lemon, sliced
2 small cinnamon sticks
100g (31⁄2 oz) sugar
Small handful fresh spearmint, plus extra to garnish
Double measure of vodka, topped up with apple juice for ice cubes
1) Make up the vodka and apple juice, then pour into ice cube trays to make ‘special’ ice cubes. Freeze until the sangria is ready to serve.
2) In a small saucepan, place the soda water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and mint leaves. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat.
3) Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
4) Once cooled, strain into a large sangria pitcher. Discard the cinnamon sticks and mint.
5) Add the wine and fruit to the pitcher, mix well, and chill for at least 2 hours before you are ready to serve.
6) Remove the pitcher from the fridge and add the cider, special ice cubes and a little more soda water if desired.
7) Serve in glasses garnished with fresh mint leaves.
“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