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A Taste of Spain

A taste of Spain in EdinburghAt the weekend, I took myself along to the 'Taste of Spain' event in Edinburgh. Having heard great things about the equivalent spectacle on London’s Regent Street earlier in the summer, I thought I’d take the two-hour train ride north from York to see how things played out in the Scottish Capital.

They had certainly picked a great spot – right outside the Royal Scottish Academy and next to Princes Street Gardens. While the event wasn’t exactly huge in scale, the Spaniards – as you might expect – amply made up for this in terms of atmosphere, vitality and spirit. Centre stage was a truly gigantic paella pan (big enough to contain a small marketing department, I noticed) which was lovingly tended throughout the day by two chefs, flown over for the event from Valencia. Yes, this was 'paella valenciana' on a grand scale – which meant copious amounts of meat and vegetables being hurled into the pan, as opposed to the seafood I had expected, given the 'paella marisco' I had enjoyed elsewhere in Spain.

Spanish football skillsWhile this drew quite a crowd, the assembled throng soon had their attention diverted as they became entranced by a quite incredible exhibition of solo football skills, performed by a younger (and, dare I say, even cooler) version of Fernando Torres. Even the non-football fans in the audience were dazzled by his acrobatic array of trickery, as – smiling all the while – he never once took his eyes off the ball, which really did seem to be connected to various parts of his anatomy by an elasticated cord. Given recent events in South Africa, this was indeed a very fitting way to tactfully remind international onlookers that Spain are now – as well as being Champions of Europe – fully deserved 'Campeones del Mundo'!

Next stop were the stands from the participating Spanish regions. I bumped into an old colleague at the Gran Canaria exhibit, who insisted that I got a rather lovely ‘mock photo’ taken by their resident photographer, complete with rather unflattering beach attire (which I will only publish on this blog if my post gets 5 comments or more!). This wasn’t very ‘Inntravel’, given that our walking holiday on Gran Canaria is more about the dramatic inland terrain than the beaches – but it was good fun nonetheless. After swapping notes on the island’s best trails, as well as being tempted by the  charms of neighbouring Lanzarote (yet to feature in our holiday programme), I moved onto the typically lively stand promoting Andalucia. As you might expect, the hosts displayed their magnificent southern brio to the full, as well as an intoxicating sense of theatre. Here, I indulged in hand-carved, dry-cured Jamón de Trevélez, accompanied by a wee ‘dram’ of chilled fino sherry, poured spectacularly from a great height by a lady who had clearly done this many times before.

There was even a Galician bagpiper entertaining the crowds, along with his small band of merry men. It was quite a novelty to see the usual pipers of Princes Street outshone by a faraway cousin, but certainly not as incongruous as it sounds – the northern provinces of Galicia and Asturias are well-known for their Celtic influences, and this fellow was not about to be intimidated by any kilt-wielding locals.

A good time was certainly being had by all as I polished off my plateful of paella (partly mixed by my own fair hand - see below), accompanied by a slug or two of vino tinto from La Mancha. As I went to catch my train back to York, I felt enthused – as, no doubt, did the gathered Scots and tourists from all over the world – by a Spain of many different dimensions. This is a country that combines the shamelessly popular with the virtually unknown; and that manages to balance its fiesta-loving exuberance with its many timeless corners inviting quiet contemplation. Everyone has a different view of Spain, but it’s a country that is capable of delighting – and surprising – in equal measure.

Stirring the giant paella

Posted: 27/07/2010 08:03:13 by | with 4 comments
Filed under: gastronomy, Spain, sport


Comments
Steve Jack, Marketing
OK, thanks for your comments, folks. I'll make this the fifth one so you can post the embarrassing image after all (I don't care - I'm off on holiday this weekend... TO FRANCE!)
29/07/2010 09:39:53

Karen Bryan
Steve, that's a real comment bait saying you'll publish that photo if there are more than 5 comments
27/07/2010 22:06:21

jools stone
You should run that as a caption competition on the site Steve! :-)
27/07/2010 09:57:09

Annie Bennett
Definitely recommend Lanzarote for walking holiday - very different from Gran Canaria and other islands. So can we see those pics now?
27/07/2010 09:44:50

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