Tag: Spanish

G&T weather

Saturday, 21 April, 2018 0 Comments

It’s going to be warm today. Up around 28C, they say. Ideal for gin & tonic and the shops are filled with the same; now that gin has become the drink du jour. A local outfit is selling both Roku and Sipsmith, the best of Britain and Japan, as it were. In Japanese, roku means “six” and Suntory’s premium gin contains six quintessentially Japanese botanicals: green tea in the form of sencha and gyokuro; cherry, as blossom and leaf and then yuzu citrus and Japanese pepper.

We invested in Sipsmith, which is distilled in London by Sam Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall. They called their distillery Sipsmith because they see themselves as “sip-smiths”, just like writers are regarded as wordsmiths: “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race,” wrote James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Galsworthy and Hall forge Sipsmith and their smithery is a mix of philosophy and artisanal delight made with 10 botanicals: Macedonian juniper berries, Seville orange peel, Spanish lemon peel, Chinese cassia bark, Madagascan cinnamon bark, Bulgarian coriander seed, Spanish ground almond, Belgian angelica, Spanish liquorice and Italian orris.

The result is floral and mellow and splendid. The bold juniper is matched by an invigorating freshness and there’s sweetness and dryness in that mix of lemon and orange. This is gin at its finest. Try it straight, to savour the balance, before adding the tonic, ideally, to complete the London picture, BTW.

Roku and Sipsmith

Cheers! Today is the 92nd birthday of a woman who likes to take gin with lunch.


Tecla: key saint

Saturday, 23 September, 2017 0 Comments

Santa Tecla is regarded as the patron saint of Tarragona in Catalonia and her September feast day is the town’s major holiday. The event is accompanied by non-stop drumming, firecrackers and spectacular fireworks after dark.

Tecla celebrations

Note: In many Spanish-speaking countries, Santa Tecla is also considered the patron saint of computers and the internet, from the homophony with the Spanish and Catalan word tecla (“key”).

Tradition: Tecla (Thecla) was a saint of the early Christian Church and a follower of Paul the Apostle. She was miraculously saved from burning at the stake by the onset of a storm and then travelled with Paul to Antioch of Pisidia where an aristocrat attempted to rape her. Tecla fought him off and was put on trial for the crime of assaulting a nobleman. She was sentenced to be eaten by wild beasts but was again saved by a miracle, when the female beasts protected her against the male aggressors. She rejoined Paul in Myra and became a healer. Such was her popularity that the physicians in the city lost their livelihoods, so they hired a gang of young men to attempt to spoil her virginity at the age of 90. As they were about to take her, she called out to God and the ground opened up and then closed behind her. She was thus able to go to Rome and die in peace beside Saint Paul’s tomb.


Curaçao dushi

Saturday, 15 August, 2015 0 Comments

The Dutch Caribbean country of Curaçao is famed for beaches, coral reefs, pastel-coloured colonial architecture and a liqueur flavoured with the dried peel of the laraha fruit (Citrus aurantium currassuviencis), grown on the island. The culture is a mix of Arawak, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Spanish, West Indian and African influences.

The locals speak Papiamentu (Papiamento), a Creole language based on Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish and several African dialects. It’s very much a spoken language, not a written one, hence the spelling variants. Essential phrases: Con ta bay? (“How are you?”), Mi ta bon, mi dushi (“I am well, my love.”) That word, dushi, has lots of meanings, most of which centre on sweet, nice or good. It’s the word Ken Wolff, once of Aruba and now of Amsterdam, picked for the title of this clip.


Daniel Bejar and the other Daniel Bejar

Saturday, 26 April, 2014 0 Comments

“Informed by questions of memory, identity, and the histories found in the present-day, my practice looks to create ruptures within established narratives.” So states visual artist Daniel Bejar on his website. His “Statement” is a classic contender for inclusion in Pseuds Corner at Private Eye, but it gets better. In March 2011, The New Yorker published an article that uncovered Daniel Bejar’s elaborate schemes to impersonate Daniel Bejar, the Canadian musician, thereby muddling the media coverage of the two performers.

In his time, the musical Daniel Bejar has dipped into disco, folk, rock, new wave, pop and ambient electronica. On his tenth recording with the band Destroyer, which was released in 2011, he came as near to perfection as anyone who’s ever attempted to balance intricate song structures and cryptic lyrics with basic pop melodies.

Destroyer’s “Five Spanish Songs” EP was released last year and Daniel Bejar, the musician, had this to say: “It was 2013. The English language seemed spent, despicable, not easily singable. It felt over for English; good for business transactions, but that’s about it.” OMG! He’s beginning to sound like the other Daniel Bejar.


Cormac McCarthy and the art of minimalist punctuation

Thursday, 11 October, 2012

Some writers make their money by inserting commas; others by leaving them out. Cormac McCarthy, who was 79 in July, is one of the latter. His prose is extraordinarily beautiful and all the more so because he is sparing with punctuation: “They’d had their hair cut with sheepshears by an esquilador at the ranch and […]

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At the non-diet pastry shop

Sunday, 23 September, 2012

Spanish pastelerias or pastry shops are amazing and it seems that the country has one on every corner. Strolling by, you’ll see a variety of mouth-watering, hand-made pastries. Combined with the aroma, it is impossible not to step in for a closer look and taste.

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Verbal Edge: Borges & Buckley

Friday, 23 March, 2012

There’s a plethora of fine words in Up in the Air by Walter Kirn. The main character, Ryan Bingham, expands his vocabulary with words from the Verbal Edge cassette tapes as he flies around the US. Lots of great words, too, in Buckley: The Right Word. The late William F. Buckley was a marvellous interviewer […]

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Seseña and the ruin of Spain

Monday, 30 January, 2012

Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal in a five-set epic Australian Open final; passengers are stranded at Spanish airports after Spanair abruptly goes bust, cancelling all its flights with a half an hour’s notice, and the country’s unemployment rate reaches 22.8 percent, leaving almost 5.3 million Spaniards out of work. When it rains, it pours and […]

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