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Spanish Secrets: The Real San Miguel

"The yokes are an orange-gold colour and taste as if the flavour of a dozen eggs has somehow been compressed into one...'' In this delicious column Craig Briggs, conveying the full flavour of Spain, introduces the real San Miguel.

A few weeks ago Melanie and I decided to help out the local economy. Rather than buying potatoes and eggs from the supermarket, we asked our neighbour Miguel if we could buy them from him.

Miguel is a self-sufficient local farmer with a smallholding. Besides growing vegetables he also has a varied assortment of farm animals,
the majority of which are sheep. Out of his herd of 25 or so, at any given time at least one will be lambing. Unfortunately the beautifully cute, white fluffy lambs don't seem to remain on the farm for long.

He also has a dozen chickens, lorded over by one very noisy and promiscuous cockerel.

No Galician farm would be complete without a donkey, or maybe it's an ass, pr it could even be a mule? Whatever it is, its bray sounds like a foghorn with laryngitis.

Rounding off this domesticated menagerie are two dogs and several cats.

We caught Miguel walking down the lane one morning and asked if we could buy some potatoes and eggs.

"Of course" was the reply.

Later that day he called at the house. In one hand was an old bucket filled with potatoes and in the other a small carrier bag containing a dozen eggs. He apologised for only having a few potatoes but said he would return tomorrow with a 20 kilo (56lb) sack.

"That's fine, how much do we own you"? We asked

"They're a gift" he stated, refusing to take a penny and apologising once again for only having a bucket of potatoes.

That night Melanie decided to bake him a cake to thank him for his generosity. Date and walnut. Coincidentally another neighbour had given us the walnuts earlier in the year.

As promised Miguel returned the following day with a sack of potatoes. Once again he refused to take any payment. At least this time we had the cake.

He gratefully accepted it, asking Melanie to wait a moment. Miguel rushed off, returning minutes later with another dozen eggs.

A few days later and having once again baked, this time a banana and walnut cake, Melanie left half of it at Miguel's door.

The next day Miguel arrived at the house, with yet another dozen eggs.

A few days later he turned up with 2 litres of his home brewed wine. Two days after that another 2 litres of wine.

Once more Melanie baked, giving Miguel half the cake. He returned the gesture with yet another dozen eggs, and another 2 litres of wine.

The giving continues and we're not quite sure how to break the cycle, or whether indeed we want to.

Our idea of helping the local economy by buying local produce, has spectacularly failed.

As for the produce, the potatoes are much the same as from the supermarket. The eggs are absolutely delicious. The yokes are an orange-gold colour and taste as if the flavour of a dozen eggs has somehow been compressed into one.

The wine is awful, but mixed half and half with lemonade it makes a refreshing cordial, reminding me of Sangria without the chunks of fruit.

As for Miguel, he's a saint, the real San Miguel.

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