Hurrah! All the decorating is finished, inside and out. We’ve splashed white paint into every nook and cranny and everything looks fresh and clean. Joe’s bad back is better, although he still complains about his scraped knees (from kneeling on the roof), his bruised thumb (trapped under a plank of wood) and gashed finger (changing a light bulb).
Yes, everything looked wonderful, ready for the summer, except for the chicken house. The chicken house was badly in need of sprucing up and we still had an unopened tub of paint. Joe pulled the lid off, and we stared at it.
“That doesn’t look right,” I said. “That looks pink!”
“I’ll stir it,” said Joe, grabbing a stick. “Perhaps it’s just separated.”So he stirred energetically, but the more he stirred, the pinker the paint turned.
“It’s most definitely pink,” I said, rather unnecessarily.
“Well, I’ve had enough. I’m not going down the mountain to buy more paint,” said Joe. “The chickens will just have to have a pink house.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but something unexpected stopped me in my tracks. A little tractor was passing our house, going uphill, heading for the farmland above. That wasn’t unusual, but the next event was. CRASH! Startled, our chickens shrilled their alarm call, while Joe and I froze, listening. We heard a series of loud thuds, and rolling sounds, followed by the tractor braking, and a torrent of Spanish curses from the farmer. Then the tractor started up again, the farmer’s curses fading as he continued up the mountain. Joe and I opened our back gate to look outside.
It was a scene of carnage. Red juice splatted the street, and shattered watermelons lay strewn around, all jagged edges and pink glistening flesh. The tailgate of the farmer’s trailer must have dropped, and his load of watermelons had escaped, bouncing and rolling down the mountain.
Joe and I gaped at the mess, then silently collected all the undamaged watermelons, rolling them into a pile for the farmer to collect when he returned. As for the huge shards of damaged watermelons, we knew who would appreciate them! As we daubed pink paint on their house, our chickens feasted on watermelon.
Actually, the pink chicken house looks rather good, if a little, um… pink. Some of the chickens have pink streaks where they’ve rubbed against the wet paint, but that’s wearing off now. They love the watermelon, and we still have plenty more to give them.
A couple of pieces of advice… I know that watermelons grown here in El Hoyo are exported to British supermarkets. So, if you are buying a watermelon, check it for bruises. Also, if you are purchasing white paint in Spain, double-check that it says ‘Blanco’, not ‘Arcilla’. ‘Arcilla’ actually means ‘clay’ but, I promise you, it’s pink. Very pink.
~ Serves 4 ~
~ 8 minutes preparation ~
~ 8 to10 minutes cooking ~
Garlic mushrooms are a very popular tapas dish. They can be prepared in various ways, but here we cooked them on the barbecue in a Spanish earthenware cazuela. The rustic, smoky flavours really add another dimension, smell delicious when cooking, and taste divine.
1kg (2.2 lbs) white button mushrooms (seems a lot but they will reduce)
5 cloves garlic
150ml (5 US fl.oz)olive oil
Splash of white wine
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1) Trim the stalks and clean the mushrooms by wiping with a damp cloth.
2) Peel and crush the garlic.
3) Heat the olive oil in a cazuela or pan over the barbecue and add the garlic. Cook for a few minutes then add the mushrooms.
4) Continue to cook, stirring from time to time until the mushrooms are coloured and tender.
5) Add the wine, salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes.
6) Place the cazuela on the table and serve with fresh bread.
“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