Put on the factor fifty, start drinking in the early afternoon and mentally check out from any professional responsibility because this is the first international one of these! Wahey!
I’m hoping that is enough to distract you, the reader, from the fact that Chewing The Fat has hardly settled into any kind of recognisable rhythm. In fact, after four articles you’re probably still wondering what the point is. Am I reviewing the food I’m talking about? No. I don’t think so anyway, mainly because my only vaguely qualifying talent regarding the world of food is that I can smell a tube of sour cream and chive Pringles being opened from distances of up to a nautical mile. Will there be any kind of payoff, like an eventual top ten? One of those “here’s a definitive list of things”, things? One of those, “You’ll never have guessed what number four is” affairs. God only knows.
Anyway, last week I went on holiday to Menorca. An island so ruggedly beautiful, so numinously, awe-inspiringly gorgeous that it felt wrong to be looking at it with shitty British eyes. The entire spectrum of my vision is calibrated to the everyday. To gubbins like multi-storey car parks, liver and onion, those brown patterned train seats, alan keys, prawn cocktail crisp packets, sleet, the inside of leisure centres and Milton Keynes. Growing up, if I saw a plate of food with more than one colour in it my corneas would bleed from overstimulation.
I feel particularly suited to the Mediterranean pace of life and by that I mean I excel anywhere where it is socially acceptable to take a nap in the middle of the working day. I also like how they pour drinks in Spain, through those slow pouring, plastic regulating nipples. ‘Mixologists’ may wince at this cavalier attitude towards building drinks but goodness me I bloody love it. It’s that exact mañana mañana attitude that leaves the drinking experience mercifully free from the baggage of bartending gatekeeping and sticklerism. The drinks are generously proportioned, cold and a-plenty. Lovely.
If I had one observation it is that Menorcan rituals of consumption are much preferable to our own. Food and drink have a harmonious rapport playing off of each other like Jack and Vera Duckworth. Boquerones en Vinagre, zippy little anchovies cooked in salt water and cured in vinegar or Pescaíto Frito - wee little bits of fish and shrimp matter deep-fried into a texturally rewarding mass of crunch are unsurpassable as beer snacks. Pan Con Tomate, which is literally - bread with tomatoes - is an exercise in the sparse economics of truly delicious things. The pulpy, Platonic soul of tomato is released from the whole when the fruit/veg is grated, mashed, crushed or otherwise pulverised with a sprinkling of salt and some very good olive oil. I’ll never look at a tomato the same way knowing what latent potential for the humbling human joy they contain.