There’s a documentary on TV now on Catalunya. It’s in Chinese but it’s nice to see so many places we know. If I could re-start my history degree, I would probably study modern Spanish history and write a thesis on Catalan cultural history. Perhaps something on Catalan culture under Franco. It’s fascinating.
We had quite the eventful weekend. We gad been invited to a party on Saturday evening at Lloret de Mar, a town about one hour north of Barcelona, at the Costa Brava. While I was checking out the schedule for the bus to Lloret, I realized that 20 mins after Lloret was the town of Tossa de Mar, a place I had heard much about and which I had always wanted to visit. So I convinced Alan that we should leave Barcelona early in the morning, visit Tossa and then go back to Lloret to meet our friends later. He promptly agreed and you can read the rest of the story on his blog.
On Friday, we ran into an anti-bullfighting demonstration in front of the Generalitat (government of Catalunya). Tourists usually expect to see bullfighting everywhere in Spain and get disappointed when they get to Barcelona and find that the only bullring in town is basically a show place, geared towards the tourist market. Bullfighting is not a Catalan tradition and many Catalans feel strongly against it. The group below is trying to collect enough signatures to force the government of Catalunya to ban the practice in its territory.
This weekend we celebrated my birthday at Wushu with a few of our very good friends here in Barcelona. Paul, Wushu’s talented dessert chef, even made me a special cake and we spent an amazing four hours at the restaurant, enjoying the company, the many bottles of cava, and, of course, Brad’s amazing food.
I had my favourite dish – the red curry with roasted duck (on the left) and next time I’ll try the laksa (on the right):
There are more pictures on my flickr site. It was a very busy weekend, which included dinner at Wushu on friday night with other friends, shopping in Gracia on saturday morning for a lunch on sunday that Jackie and I were organizing, then dinner at Wushu again on saturday night and finally a big lunch on sunday, when I cooked a not-so-traditional Brazilian feijoada for friends. Tomorrow we catch the high speed train to Segovia. It’s probable that I won’t be accessing internet there so stay tuned for a report on the trip to Segovia some time next weekend!
This one made me think of my friend Janine; she knows why…
Per nosaltres, la nació és una cosa viva, plena de sentit i de cara el futur, i la raça és una cosa morta, pobra de contingut i plasmada sobre el passat.[…] Per nosaltres els forasters que vénen a Catalunya – que sempre acollim amb els braços oberts – i pateixen amb els nostres dols i gaudeixem amb les nostres alegries, i que ens donen fills, que les nostres dones no en pareixem prou, són tan catalans, en la nostra interpretació futurista de la nació, com nosaltres mateixos. No fem absolutament cap diferència.
Rafael Campalans, 1923, founder of the Unió Socialista de Catalunya
We believe that the nation is alive, full of feeling and looking towards the future, and race is dead, a thing poor in substance and stuck in the past. For us, the foreigners that come to Catalunya – and who have always been received with open arms – and share with us our pains and our joys, and who give us children, are as Catalan, in our futuristic (progressive) interpretation of the nation, as we are ourselves. It makes absolutely not difference.
I found this quotation, from 1923, in an article dedicated to the issue of immigration in Catalunya today. Salvador Cardús i Ros argues that immigration had always played a crucial role in the development of Catalunya. This phenomena can be traced as far back as we have reliable demographic information (i.e. the 17th century) as the region has always had a low birth rate. Yet, currently, the issue of immigration is seen in a negative light as a threat to national identity. Cardús i Ros proposes that this situation should be reversed by turning immigration into a place for the collective memory of Catalunya, considering it as a part of the nation. Very interesting.
During my year at the archives in Barcelona, I often wished for a place where I could have a simple salad or a sandwich with more than one ingredient in it. Today I discovered the place I had been looking for. Vonblum is a special place, where design meets gastronomy. It is partly a café and partly an art shop and the attention to detail is noticeable everywhere.
I happened on the place in search of my friend Bruna, whom I met through her blog even before I came to Barcelona. Once I got here we finally found an occasion to meet and have remained in touch since then. She has degrees in Fine Arts and Computer Science and has combined the two designing websites and doing other creating things. Since I’ve recently started doing some more web designing of my own, I called Bruna up to see if she was free for a meeting. She said this week she would be really busy because she was helping a friend at her restaurant but that I should come by since it was not too far from the archives. “The food is good; my sister is the chef,” she added. So Alan and I went there today and were very glad we did.
This is what I had for lunch today:
It was amazing! As Bruna said in the comments below, I’m very happy to learn that this blog had a hand in the coming together of the place. Jessica, the owner, met Bruna through this blog when she searched for Wushu on google. Through Bruna, she met Barbara, Bruna’s sister, and the two planned the restaurant and the food. The way the internet brings people together never ceased to amaze me!!
Some pictures of the space and some other food we saw there:
I simply LOVED these antique lamps:
You can see more pictures and Alan’s take of the place, in his blog.
What a day! We had no plans today and figured we would just have a lazy day since it was raining on and off and chilly. We all woke up late (around 10 AM), Sebastian cooked us brunch and around 2 pm Jackie, Alan and I decided to go down to do some shopping for dinner. As we went down the stairs, I mentioned to Jackie that I wanted to see the dancing egg. Known in Catalan as El Ou com balla (how the egg dances), it is a particularly Barcelonese tradition to make an empty egg dance over the jet of a public fountain during the week of Corpus Christi. This year, because of the drought, the event was restricted to only six fountains in the city, all of which use a mechanism that recycles its water. Since today was the last day and we somehow missed it during the year we lived here, I really wanted to see it. So instead of going shopping, we headed to the Plaça del Rei, to the Palau del Lloctinent, where the old Archives of the Crown of Aragon used to be located. It was actually quite neat:
Sebastian met us there and we then went to a local Vermuth bar to have some traditional Catalan vermut with some tapas. We weren’t that hungry but made short work of some patatas bravas, buñuelos de bacalao, jamón de jabugo (the good stuff!), pan con tomate, and pimientos padrón. For some reason, Alan and I thought vermut was very bitter but the stuff at this local bar was quite nice. We’ll definitely check some other places.
Inside the bar:
From there we went to Parc de la Ciutadela, where there was to be a big festival today but I guess the rain scared everybody away and there wasn’t much going on.
After wandering around the park a bit, we went to the Born in search of ice cream for Jackie, who had a craving. We found an open place near the Catedral del Mar, where I could have hot chocolate (the yummy Spanish version but not quite as good as the one from my favourite chocolate place in Gracia) while she had her ice cream. On our way home, we stopped at a friend’s house for a visit. She greeted us in her bathrobe – she had just got out of bed (it was 6:30 PM!), good thing we could foresee that and brought her some breakfast from a nearby bakery. We hung out for a while and made it home for a lovely couscous dinner with lamb and vegetables. Tomorrow I get up early and hit the archives…