Almost in preparation, we’d arrived in Granada hungry. It was definitely time to seek out an old tapas bar we had read about, Bodegas Castañeda. We found it down a side street and, unsure what we’d find, stepped inside.
A hubbub of noise greeted us, and the smell of cooking food. It was suddenly like we needed to see, hear, smell and feel everything at once. We were crowded into a small place: waiters were shouting and there were people everywhere, eating, drinking, talking.
We edged our way to the bar, cautiously ordering ourselves wine. For us this felt a bit weird: would food just arrive magically? All sorts of wonderful looking tapas were appearing: the couple next to us were tucking into a golden paella, whilst another had a platter of chorizo. All were served on tiny plates, with equally tiny forks. We waited, overawed by the giant hanging hams above us, the rifles on the walls. Then our waiter abruptly returned, carrying two helpings of a pork and potato stew (with of course, tiny forks).
It was dark, comforting food: a velvety sauce with fall-apart meat, the potatoes roasted and fluffy. We ate our portions alarmingly fast, but another drink brought more tapas: this time fresh anchovies swimming in oil. The third came with thick wedges of cheese on crusty bread. They were all hopelessly delicious, full of rustic flavour.
It struck us how different this way of eating was from anything we’d experienced before. Sumptuous homemade food added casually to your drink like a biscuit with coffee. For food lovers like us, endlessly fascinating.
Eventually we paid for our drinks and walked back out into the quiet street. It honestly felt like returning to earth.