Cold Dishes For a Summer in Mallorca

If you’re in Europe, you’ll be aware – from personal experience – that there has been a second heatwave. Yes, here in Mallorca, just as we were breathing a sigh of relief that the last one was over…wham!

As I write this, the sun has just disappeared behind some cloud; the weather is due to be cooler tomorrow and it seems to be getting in a little practice now.

No matter how cool it becomes over the summer months, little actual cooking is done in our finca’s kitchen. The ventilation isn’t good in there and using even just one gas ring on the hob makes the room feel like a sauna. I haven’t switched on the oven since the end of May. Our meals are a combination of cold dishes and food cooked on the BBQ (rather expertly, I must add) by The Boss.

Too hot for clothes?

On Wednesday this week – when the mercury was nudging 39 degrees C – I went to interview a mallorquín artist: a bachelor in his late fifties, whose rustic house didn’t appear to have changed over the thirty years he’s lived in it. How I missed the air-conditioned comfort of home, as we went from room to room looking at his numerous canvases – most of which were on the floor, stacked and leaning against lime-washed walls.

I thought I was going to melt in the heat. As he had taken some time to answer our knock on his heavy wooden front door – and was doing up the belt on his shorts when he did – I’d have bet money that he’d been all-but-naked before our arrival. It was far too hot in that house to wear clothes, if there were nobody else around to see your personal bits in all their glory.

Sticking to tradition

What? Watermelon in a gazpacho?

As the photographer and I were preparing to leave, to return to the cool of our respective homes, I mentioned (in Spanish) that I’d be making watermelon gazpacho that afternoon, as a neighbour was coming over for dinner. The artist looked horrified and told me – in no uncertain terms – that watermelon was for dessert and gazpacho should be made with tomato, onion, pepper, and cucumber; nada más (apart from seasoning and dressing, of course).

I explained that I’d found the recipe online in The New York Times and his eyebrows raised like a theatre-stage curtain. Over the years we have often found that mallorquíns – the older generation in particular – stick rigidly to culinary traditions.

“The proper ingredients are the same as for trempó,” he informed me, in Spanish, wagging a disapproving forefinger from side to side. The Mallorcan dish trempó is one of our favourites in the summer: a refreshing salad of these ingredients, made by chopping them up and mixing them with seasoning and dressing in a bowl.

Both gazpacho and trempó are dishes that we often have for a light lunch in the heat of the day. And it’s good to know that if we ever run out of teeth in future years (it could happen), we can just tip the trempó ingredients into the blender to enjoy the same flavours, in liquid form, as gazpacho.

I don’t think Mr Mallorcan Artist would approve of my plan to make a cherry gazpacho tomorrow. Let’s keep that one a secret…

Jan Edwards ©2019

Advertisements

Feeling the Heat in Mallorca

The Boss and I have taken to living like vampires. The doors and shutters (persianas) of our finca in rural Mallorca are closed most of the day and windows are firmly shut against the searing summer heat. We stay out of the bright sunlight and keep cool with our air conditioning. We’re so pleased we have a solar-powered electricity system: we don’t have alarming summer electricity bills to pay so can be liberal with air conditioning – until the sun disappears from the solar panels.

Mallorca – like other parts of northern Europe – had a heatwave in June. To be honest, I haven’t noticed that it’s ended yet. We have regularly registered temperatures in the upper 30s, in the shade on our terrace, and last night’s low, for instance, was 24 degrees Celsius.

On Monday morning I had to go to Palma and emerged from the railway station to feel fat drops of rain plopping onto my head. Sadly, this was not the start of a good refreshing shower, but what’s called cuatro gotas – four drops – which afforded little relief from the clammy heat.

But that night rain did fall. In the form of mud. This was our black car the next morning…

Looks like snow, but it’s mud.

Specific outings aside (and they’re usually in the evenings at this time of year), we have only daytime dashes outside to feed the cats (morning and early evening), take out the washing (which dries to a crisp in, oh, about ten minutes), or put the rubbish in the dustbin.

We save our time outdoors for the early mornings and the evenings (when, ironically, the heat of the sun may be replaced by the heat of The Boss’s Weber BBQ). These are the times when we are likely to see our cats, who hide away during the daytime. They each have their own way of keeping cool and two, in particular, amuse us. Nibbles likes to cool his nether regions by draping himself over the balustrade. Shorty – our gorgeous ginger – favours a cooling tummy dip in one of our several birdbaths (which also serve as drinking stations for our feline family).

Whatever it takes, find your own way to stay cool this summer. Early-morning swim at Portocristo? Don’t mind if we do…

FOOTNOTE: I wrote this post on July 13th and I’m pleased to say the humidity has eased off and temperatures are a little more comfortable.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Expat Book About Life in Mallorca (and Elsewhere) Published Today. But Not by Me.

Is it true that time passes more quickly when living in Mallorca? It certainly seems that way and I was shocked to see that my last post here was back in February. What have I been doing all this time?

In fact, I did log on to write a post a few times but was faced with the new ‘block editor’. I’m sorry, WordPress, but I just couldn’t get on with it and gave up in despair. Today, I decided I would push myself through the ‘block-editor’ pain barrier. It was only then that I noticed down in the corner of the screen that I could switch to the original way of creating posts. Duh! So I’m back.

#amwriting

This wasn’t the only reason for fewer posts of late. Last year I signed up for a novel-writing course (sadly no longer available) with Penguin Random House. I loved it, although it took a lot more of my time than I expected. I had started my novel not long after we had electricity installed at our rural finca (end of 2004), but domestic life and other writing stalled progress. Until I signed up for the ‘Constructing a Novel’ course.

The novel is now coming along steadily. A large amount of it is still in my head, rather than recorded on my computer. Like many other busy people, I could do with a few extra hours in my day, but I’m no longer able to sacrifice sleeping time to achieve this.

I blame my earlier working lifestyle in the UK, rising at 3.30am to travel to Oxford for my early-morning radio show and then the breakfast show afterwards. For a few years, between my radio and my TV continuity-announcing work, I missed out on a lot of sleep. These days I function better with my full quota of eight hours. Perhaps I’m still catching up – or remembering the words of my doctor when, during a medical check, he warned me that my working lifestyle was not sustainable.

I do lots of other writing too, with a second blog – Eat, Drink, Sleep, Mallorca – and other scribblings to satisfy my urge to write. Sometimes I think it’s not more time that I need, but a hefty dose of determination and discipline to help me prioritise what I’m doing.

A friend is way ahead of me…

Love the cover…

I know quite a few people who are published authors and have to admire them for their achievements. One of them is our friend James B Rieley – a born raconteur – who used to live in Mallorca, but moved to the Caribbean to live on his yacht.

Life dealt him (and many others) the cruellest of blows, in the form of Hurricane Irma in 2017. More than 130 people died in that category-5 cyclone but James was fortunate to survive – although his beloved floating home didn’t. I remember reading a magazine article he wrote about that experience and it gave me the chills, thinking about the fear and devastation he and so many others faced.

Today, James has published a book about his life on the two islands of Mallorca and Virgin Gorda. It’s called Living on Rocks: A Memoir of Sangria and Cyclones and it’s on Amazon as a free Kindle download for a couple of days (after which you’d have to pay for it).

It must be such an exciting feeling to see your book available to the wider public, wondering how well it will do and what kind of reviews it will garner. It’s a feeling I plan to experience one day.

I really ought to return to my novel after publishing this post, but I had my free Kindle download of James’s book earlier today. And my hammock, in the shade of our finca’s covered terrace, seems a very appealing spot for a little reading…

See what I mean about discipline?

Jan Edwards ©2019