Leaving A Drop in The Glass

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Leaving A Drop in The Glass

“We may have lost paradise because of the apple, but we’ll get it back with cider.”
– Asturian saying

“Reach out your arms, as far apart as possible – one high, one low – then just bend your wrist, but do not look!”, instructed the waitress. “Oh, and beginners like you must stand over the barrel,” she added. I followed her advice exactly but still ended up with a soggy shirt-front and damp shoes, wasting half a bottle.

Even though the cider was cheap, learning to pour it like a local wouldn’t be and accepting I could be thirsty for a long while before I acquired the knack, I invited my hostess to demonstrate proper form. Sure enough, her aim was perfect and my glass was soon two inches deep without the loss of a drop. “Now, drink it! Fast!” she cajoled. “Before it goes flat!”

I hadn’t counted on necking shots of cider at lunchtime, and wondered if I was playing the straight guy in a game of haze the foreigner, but as foamy, appley goodness cascaded down my gullet it started to make sense. Then, after taking my order for broiled razor clams and hake in cider, the waitress turned on her heel for the kitchen, leaving my glass empty. Now eager to drink some more, but reluctant to soak myself further, I reached for the bottle. “No lo mueva!” warned a finger-wagging old guy to my left. “She will pour for you when she returns. And, you should leave a drop in the bottom of the glass. It’s good luck.”

Thanking him for his advice, I sat back and looked around the white-washed room from my seat against the wall. Cut-off barrels half-filled with sawdust littered the blue-tiled floor between tables, along with the usual jumble of crumpled napkins, discarded toothpicks and cigarette ends. Through the open window, small gaily-painted fishing boats bobbed up and down, and their creak and bump as they nagged at their moorings offered a pleasant counterpoint to the hoarse cries of seabirds.

Luarca, on the Asturian coast of northern Spain is still a working port and, the tasca where I sat, the place to enjoy the morning’s catch. From the ruddy faces surrounding me, it was entirely possible that my hake had been landed earlier in the day by a fellow diner. The globe is so well traveled these days that it’s virtually impossible to find anywhere you’re the only foreigner, but in this place, during the off-season, I had managed it. In fact, I was the only guest at the only open hotel in town. An anomaly I was quick to appreciate, because it allowed me to slip into the natural rhythms of local life and prompted me to assume the most humble status, that of being nobody at all. Sure, it removed me from many things, but there’s an advantage to that when all you want to absorb is atmosphere – the feeling that five hundred years could pass in this place and the faces wouldn’t change. What Cees Nooteboom described as “the feeling that everything except time has stopped.“

My razor clams arrived, redolent of garlic and spicy with piperade, followed by tender hake with softened apples, their acidity perfectly balancing the sweetness of the reduced cider sauce. A side of fried potatoes appeared as another two inches of cider found its way neatly into my glass. Lazily enjoying it, happy and relaxed, I barely noticed when it was all gone and the waitress returned. “Postre?” she asked. “Hay queso de cabrales, flan, y frutas frescas, o si usted prefiere, un poco de cada uno.” I opted greedily for the latter, along with a nip of orujo, she returned quickly with a little of each – blue cheese, stick to your teeth caramel pudding, and a pear. “Ningunas manzanas?” I smiled. “Haven’t you had enough apples yet?” she joked back.

– See more at: http://www.weareneverfull.com/pollo-en-sidra-asturian-style-chicken-in-cider-leaving-a-drop-in-the-glass/#sthash.FLk39cwY.dpuf

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