It is Thursday, at 12:30 for me. The past few days and the next few days the weather is suppose to be rainy, and has been cloudy/extremely windy the past two days. Although today there were patches of very bright skies and nice weather. The island seems to crave good weather, and somehow makes it happen to my point of view most of the time. My window view (seen here) will be changed tomorrow, as the owners of the hotel, an old British couple, are putting all three cooks who live in the hotel in one room as to make more rooms available for guests(the hotel has in all 23 rooms). In some ways, bad, as we already spend 5 days a week/10 hours a day together more time isn't quite needed. Also, a bit of privacy/space to be away is always good. But then in some ways it'll be better, get to know them better, become closer friends with them, have something to do/talk to. We will see. The new room I think is going to be nice, maybe I will give another tour soon. (still due, a tour of the kitchen and hotel, coming soon)
Tuesday was my second day off, and I spent it sleeping in and then went to Palma. Palma is a bit of a small city, and the parts that are interesting to a foreigner/traveler to my knowledge are able to be seen in one day, as I did last time. So with little of must do's during the day, I spent it walking around, eating, seeing, sleeping on a bench, and enjoying being in a different environment. When I first arrived, it as lunch time, and per Lars Johansson's suggestion I went to "Cellar Sa Premsa." Great recommendation! Lars is the Swedish exchange teacher, through whom I got in touch with the Chef here and got here. As said in the past, I will never be able to repay him! I owe him much. Bon Voyage, also, on your upcoming trip to Richmond with the students. Sorry I won't be able to be there! En route to the restaurant, which I figured I could make by walking but was sadly mistaken as there are little to no road signs here on the island, I eventually took a cab a mere 500 yards to the restaurant. It has begun to get very frustrating when I have an address and can't seem to see where I am, because of no road signs and the people not speaking english or not knowing where they are either. On to lunch, a big, wooden/brick building, nice interior. Sat around 300 people I'd say, big and bustling restaurant. After a little wait, I was seated. Popular and abounding in Spain, the restaurants all offer a "Menu del Dia?" I believe is how it is spelled, menu of the day, for lunch. They give you options for 3 courses, and it is usually very reasonably priced. As was this lunch, although the menu was in Spanish, and my waiter only spanish speaking, it turned out quite a meal and enjoyable experience. First course I had a tomato, beef/offal/rice dish. (Although in that definition it says waste, in culinary terms it means more organ meats, that most of the time turn out much more tasty than other part. Also, it is kind of a hip thing in the culinary scene nowadays to turn these use-to-be throw-away parts into a art. ) Very tasty, and generous portion. Also with the menu is the option of a cerveza, small bottle of wine, or any other drink offered with the meal. I opted with the local red wine, which came out very chilled, and tasted as if a sangria, very delicious. Second course was a fish that I could not understand the name of, served simply with olive oil, lemons, and potatoes. Texture like a halibut, but with more flavor of the sea, not as bland as you would expect with a halibut. And for postre, or dessert, Creama Catalan, a popular and local dessert found in Spain. Much like but less set then a Creme Brulee, and with lemon and cinnamon, this was spoon lickin' good. This three course lunch amounted to 13 Euros, so very affordable, and becoming more and more everyday thanks to Greece bringing down the euro. I would like to thank Greece at this time personally for helping me financially whilst in Europe. !
And so the wine do me in. The plan was after lunch to go back to the Vodofone store to get the Sim card that I purchased for my phone whilst here to work. I had bought a prepaid plan/card to slip in my phone so that I could have a local number while here, don't know if it'll get much use but good to have. When purchased I asked the associate if I only had to slip it in and it would work, and of course he said yes. But when doing so, admittingly careless in doing it after leaving the city that night, it asked for numbers and codes that I did not have and didn't know where to get. So when I tried to go back, they, as all other Spaniards living the great laid back life, had gone on siesta break. With nothing to do, I wandered and became increasingly tired from said wine, around the time I reached the old part of the city near the cathedral, laid down on a cement bench and slept for two hours. There were many people bustling around, so I was in no harm. Until some punk came and screamed close to me as to wake me up, and be cool in front of his friends.
By that time I figured the store would be back open, and so I went back, go it sorted out, and texted cook Marco who also had the day off, whom was roaming around the city trying to get his recently broken 3-kilometer-pushed to mechanic moped fixed. Just after texting him, I look up and there he was. And so we took a coffee, he got a music tattoo on his wrist whilst I sat and cringed at the needles, and we headed off to a pub in old town to watch the Champions league soccer game that was on that night. (There are more details to this part of the day, but at this time I feel as if I am rambling too much and providing too many useless, boring thoughts.)
FC Barcelona vs. Arsenal
Cultural epiphany of the week. Soccer(I get yelled at here when I say soccer, its "Fuutball!") is embedded in their culture. It is organic for the European men and (most)women to like it. But not just like, but know the teams, when the games are on, who is playing, and the players. More mainstream and embedded than football, basketball, or baseball in the US. Everyone knows and watches here. If you like soccer, as I do, it is awesome to be around. The news of the game the night before is not in a sports section, no, it is on the front page. The news of the fuutball games is the news. Awesome. I knew I would be in for something special seeing Barcelona play, as the Barcelona fans would be predominant in Palma also. The star of the Barcelona team, and one of the best players playing in the game today from Argentina, Lionel Messi, scored 4 goals in the game. One big fan of Barcelona, after every goal, fist pumped to the window screaming. It was a good sight and awesome experience.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we played soccer against another hotel. However, I was pushed onto the other team, disappointed at first but it turned out better. They were much better then my hotel's team who is all talk and extremely competitive. They knew how to play, the structure, the shapes and runs and how to show for the ball. Brought me back to my days of playing, it is nice playing again. Although I am in terrible condition, it was tough at times, I hope to start running here during breaks soon.
Now onto thoughts about cooking. One technique that has piqued my interest is the kitchen's use of Parmentiers. A french word, pronounced as one would expect in french, pronounce the "tier" as tee-ay, and you have it. Because starch is heavy and boring plated as is, such as potatoes, parsnips, or salsify, we puree a well cooked mix of potatoes and said flavoring veg(parsnip, salsify) to create a nice potent puree for the dish. Interesting, and fulfilling. Next thought is rudiments. As I have come to learn, success/praise for a cook cooking in a restaurant kitchen comes from precision and the ability to work extremely quickly. Thats about it. The faster you are, the better and more praise you get. Quickness comes from years and the rudiments that come so naturally after hours and hours laboring over those vegetables. And slowly, I am getting them in. I have in my opinion so much knowledge about the craft, but lack the rudiments and hands on. But it is coming along.
It has become to seem as though I am the outsider in the kitchen, with the jokes on me and I being the..."bitch." Although somewhat expected as I am the youngest and lowliest person. But also being not from Europe and not understanding or speaking Spanish, I am kind of an outsider. Could almost say I'm getting bullied at times. Sucks, but alas.
Can I say that I love it or hate it here, no. There are good and bad aspects that I have seen thus far. It is a great experience and I am surely learning a lot, and it will be good to have done. But this past week I have missed having someone to talk to to that I know, having someone to do stuff with, and kind of being around things that I am familiar and comfortable with. I miss all my friends and family, all the people that are so amazing and kind! It is kind of lonely and boring here at times, as working leaves little time to meet other people/get further away than the little town of Santa Maria. I like the people I work with, but would be nice to meet some other people also, and be around other people since I am around them so frequently. I truly believe things will only get better though.
I hope Easter treated you all well, for me it was a normal day here. Thank you for reading, hope you could follow and understand. Let me know if you want any information, descriptions, or posts on anything in particular and I will try to deliver! I am working on postcards now, but don't quite know where to find stamps...I am doing my best. It's late now, much love, see you all soon. Enjoy the below pictures from the last week.
The restaurant I had lunch at, Celler Sa Premsa, thanks again for the recommendation Lars!
Nice view of the mountains with the Reads vineyard in the forefront, taken after a walk from Santa Maria
Forgot to mention, Saturday night we went out to "Factoria De Sol?" A music school who in the nights puts on jam/concert/parties. Pictured from left to right: Marco(Venezuela), Me, Chef Felix(Bremen, Germany), Damian(Argentina, Sous Chef), Marcus(Dortmund, Germany). (Not pictured: Martin, who I work next to, speaker of no english, Uruguayan)
Woman in picture, Damian's wife, Mallorcan
Also forgot to mention in post, on the return trip from Santa Maria one day, a group of 5 or so 16ish year old girls on bikes figured out/talked to Marcus who was with me and found out I was American. They took a picture with me. Alas