Five courses and four hours later, we staggered out of my husband’s cousin’s Aquilleno’s house, and I drove us carefully up the mountain home. It was after 6:00 pm and we’d just finished our first family lunch in Spain.
An ordinary, weekday lunch will usually last for an hour or so, from around 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, with time for a nap before returning to work, but when a Spanish family decides to pull out all of the stops, the only way to survive is to pace yourself and plan on staying for a while. I’ll begin by listing, more or less, what exactly we had to eat:
We began with chorizo, jamon, and lomo (the classic Spanish pork trifecta) with sliced cheese and anchovy-stuffed olives. Next came the salad (two kinds actually: a big green salad zinging with sherry vinegar and a tuna/mayonnaise/potato/pea concoction called ensalada rusa), then the fish course followed by a pork course, and finally, the lamb course. Each was heavy with garlic and redolent of smoked paprika and olive oil, yet the different meats remained distinct and each was served in portions as big as a main dish (it was futile to refuse or attempt to ask for less) on an ordinary day. Dessert and coffee came last.
Cake and pastries and a layered ice cream torte were offered but just as I thought we were done, out came the fruit. Although I could tell the conversation was much the same as here (children, work, neighbors) and it doesn’t really matter what language is spoken to understand compliments about your children, for a non-Spanish speaker, this became a very long meal. I hadn’t even factored in the chupitos that took lunch on into the evening.
A chupito is a little (or big, depending) glass of liquor—a shot in a nicer glass, sometimes with ice, sometimes without--and generally not just one, but several chupitos are drunk after coffee. Two or three kinds of whisky were offered (did you know they made bourbon in Mexico?), as well as Cuarenta y Tres, and bottles of home-infused aguardiente (see my post about the fiesta in Crecente) called orujo that had been steeped with things like anise, cinnamon, or coffee beans for over a year. Now the gossip began to flow about the night before and the older men began to nod off at the table.
A recipe and more after the jump . . .