I started this blog post trying to write a short 101 words style entry. However, I soon realized that the depth of this experience was impossible to capture in so few words. So here is a longer, but much more satisfying piece on the Christmas weekend feast. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did living it.
Last weekend, locals here celebrated la Fiesta de San Esteban. These lunches are typically a family affair, and involve spending time with those you consider near and dear. Knowing that we were here alone, far away from family, a close colleague from the office invited us to join her family for lunch.
This particular event was hosted at her parents’ house, who we have met on past occasions. They welcomed us into their home, and made us feel like we were part of the family. All in all, we lunched for more than 6 hours feasting on local homemade delicacies. Starters included one of the most delectable Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omlette) I’ve ever eaten, scrumptious Jamon Iberico, a mouth-watering variety of marmalades, and heavenly local cheeses including The Honey Bee’s favorite – queso con piña (cheese with pineapple). Main course included a local traditional delicacy – Cannelloni with mushroom sauce. Desserts included a fresh homemade lemon mousse, made from lemons grown in their own backyard, and a mind-boggling variety of Turrones (image on the right), a local nougat based delicacy, among other things. It goes without saying, but all these delicious dishes were served with excellent wines. As you may have also noticed, they went out-of-the-way to ensure we had enough delicious vegetarian options to enjoy.
Later, they even gifted us a bag of choice lemons from their lemon tree, the same ones used to make the delicious mousse. Having now tasted those lemons, I can tell you they were unbeatably delicious – much better than anything you can buy at the local market.
I mentioned earlier that they made us feel like part of the family. I wasn’t kidding. Her father was once an avid and extremely gifted painter. However, he chose to never sell his art, and he has not shared it with anyone, apart from gifting a painting to each of his children. We not only had the pleasure of browsing his entire collection, but he also gifted us a painting of The Honey Bee’s choosing, complete with a personalized message on the back. A very emotional moment for everyone present.
The family also shared their nostalgia from their trip to India with us. We went through photo albums from their family vacation close to 15 years ago. They visited the so-called Golden Triangle in the north of India, which consists of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and the surrounding areas. They talked to us about their spiritual experiences in Benares, on the banks of the Ganges river, and the beauty of the Taj Mahal. I grudgingly have to admit I haven’t visited the Taj Mahal yet. However, I am eager, and hope to visit it someday.
All too often, people mistakenly associate Christmas as a time to go shopping for gifts, big screen TVs, etc. and attend crazy parties. When in fact, it is much simpler than that. It is about the endearment that comes from the heartwarming experiences of spending time with people, and building relationships.