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Spanish Secrets: A Family Affair

Baking-hot juicy sardines. Finger-licking bacon sizzling in a hot pan…

Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie attend a family and friends barbecue, Galician-style. And the mouth-watering way in which Craig describes the experience gives you the measure of pure bliss.

Half a dozen bacon rashers sizzling in a hot frying pan provides an unmistakable and for many an irresistibly mouth-watering aroma. Even converts to vegetarianism find their discipline sorely tested by the fatty scent of crisping bacon.

Imagine not six rashers cooking in the confines of a kitchen but 100 or more roasting over open coals on a hot plate the size of one’s front door.

The venue for this heavenly feast was the family and friends evening which precedes the advertised two day fiesta in the small village of Seguin. Village residents invite their family and friends to share in a pre-fiesta treat of barbecued sardines and delicious pancetta. We were lucky enough to be invited to this special occasion by our friends Bill and Diana.

We started the evening by enjoying an aperitif on their roof terrace. Positioned high in the hills, their house affords a stunning view over the surrounding countryside. It’s a dreamy vista, limited only by the prevailing weather conditions. Sipping on a cool glass of beer and drinking in the rural panorama it was easy to forget the approaching festivities.

Our blissful relaxation was abruptly interrupted by the loud crack of fireworks and the beckoning of locals as they casually wander down the lane toward the village green. We heaved our lethargic frames from the comfort of our terrace seating and headed off in search of the festivities.

Although it was after nine in the evening the warm, still, humid, air hung in the lane like a suffocating blanket. As we neared the village green the samba beat, from an amplified recording, enlivened our mood. There was now a spring in our step as we rounded the corner at the bottom of the lane and strutted past the old village church.

The lush freshness of the village green long since succumbed to the summer heat. All that remains is a dusty field strewn with sun-dried grasses. To the left there was a mobile bar and at the bottom of the small field a bouncy castle. It was packed with young children, noisily playing. They jumped and tumbled with a flexible dexterity exclusive to youth.

There was about a hundred or so people gathered around the barbecue, laughing and joking. They chatted incessantly as if it were years, rather than minutes, since they last met each other.

The cooking began. Large succulent sardines bakde over open coals. Rich, fishy aromas drifted slowly over the open field, held close to the ground by the warm night air. Before long we were nibbling on a thick slice of crusty bread topped with a baking-hot juicy sardine. One sardine, then a second and finally a third, while the thickly cut pancetta was prepared.

Rasher after rasher of finger-licking bacon sizzled on the steaming hot-plate. Tantalising fragrances filled the air as the smoke hung over the feeding crowd. All was washed down with a cask of this year’s free-flowing vintage.

Our village hosts greeted us warmly, generously and sincerely. Having been fed and watered we made our way back up the lane under a star-filled night sky and felt privileged to have taken part in this family affair.

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craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs

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