Friday, December 13, 2013

A slow start in Gracia

Day V - 12 days to xmas day

After five days I started to draw a rough sketch of the place I am living in in my head.  Jiwar residency studio is located area called Gracia. It is in about 40 min walk distance to the centre of business and tourists of Barcelona. The distance does not make the life here less bustling than the centre. I have been told more than once that Gracia is an urban ghetto of creative crowds, artists, performers, writers and people in the art industry.

Like most of European cities, the streets here are narrow and not lack of boutique shops and funky cafes on sides. Streets in Barcelona generally, i think, are particular neat and in order with a good traffic indication system. It is very easy to take a stroll along the pedestrian paths. Having said that, I am still often get mental by the fast and noisy traffic on the big roads.

Dotted with Modernista architectures designed by Gaudi (Mercat de la Llibertat, case Vicens and Park Guell), Gracia is a place where ordinary life dwells in the historic heritages. Many squares are inserted among apartments decorated in Modernist style. Comparing to those squares I saw in Italy, the squares here are much smaller and do not necessarily have fountains. It seems they are for people to hang out and meet up. In these winter days many old people or young teenagers can be seen at sunny shined spot in squares gossiping or talking through mobiles. 

Two flags are often spotted on people's balconies, when you look up.  I learned that these flags were Cataluña flags. It has become the 'new' phenomenon in Barcelona as the Catalan attempts to be independent from Spain and decapitate itself from the bad Spanish economy.  

Gracia is almost at the foot of the mountain range. (Barcelona sits between mountains-north and the sea-south.) The famous Park Guell is in about 20min walking distance. There has been many documents and information about this Gaudi's another wacky design. The main colourful trencadis (tile-shared mosaic) part of the park (Hansel and Gretel gatehouses and Sala Hipostila) are circled out and costs 8ero to get in, which is only 1/3 of the park. The rest areas which also includes Gaudi designed  stonework are free. I personally prefer the latter as it is more true and close to Gaudi's philosophy "to create an environment that provided ideal living conditions. ...the architect sought points of confluence and confrontation between nature and art, generating a sometimes ironic dialogue, between materials, formal elements and construction techniques." than former. Nevertheless, it is absolutely divine to visit the park in a winter early afternoon and to see both pigeons and humans accommodated so well inside a 'space ship' like structures.

Art Residency

My food exchange project has 'officially' launched. Mireia - manager of Jiwar made me a Chin-talonia lunch with the two dishes and rice that I bought from a local eatin and takeaway Chinese restaurant - L'os Panda. It was a test run on the purpose of discovering the time management, fluency of carrying on the conversation with participants and visual quality of documentation of interview.

I found L'os Panda via both TripAdvisor search and from Mireia. It only took 3min to walk to the restaurant from the studio. The owner is a mid-aged Chinese guy. He told me that he had been living here for 28 years and he had known everything about this neighbourhood. When I replied to him that I was an artists and doing an art project here in next month, he showed his best comprehension by telling me a story of a Chinese girl who used to live here. This girl had passion on art and was interested in local craft making. Then a famous Chinese singer liked what she was doing and now she gained success in China. She was in the art circle, he said.  ...  I smiled back. 

I ordered two dishes "Gong Bao Chicken" - a stirfry chicken breast, vegetable and chillies. (it was really watery and not hot.); "Su Shi Jin" - a stirfry mixed vegetable; and steam rice. He also gave me a complimentary home made chilly source. 

The lunch was set up at the corridor of the studio where a dining table and four chairs was there for people in the residency to have meals. A row of glass windows on one side of the corridor faces to the garden. In an early the sunny afternoon the light shot in through the red-blue colour glass window and projected beautiful lights on the table.

Besides the takeaway containers, I put few plates, bowls, glasses, cutteries and dining matts on the table for Mireia to choose. 

I explained to Mireia what I expected from her participation. "Change the presentation of two Chinese dishes so that they will look like the dishes she familiar with." Then, it all started with a technique problem : my HD bloggie indicated me the memory card was full. *sweat* Of course, it had to follow the universal rule - things go wrong when they are needed.  

But the problem did not stop Mireia. She looked at the dishes on the table and thought for a while. Then, she put out an action. 

Mireia transferred two dishes into two Catalan dishes. Entree: Escalivada + Main course: Chicken with vegetable salad with rice. 

Mireia picked all onions and green capsican out and regrouped them together. it was Escalivada. Then, she put all chicken meat on the centre of a new plate and mushroom and cabbages along the sides. She scooped all the carrots out from the juice and left them aside with the rice because carrot and plain steam rice were the odds in Catalan dishes.

It took her about 20min to reset the dishes. Chatting along about the Spanish and Catalonia food, her family and my cultural experience, the lunch lasted for nearly 2hrs.

It was a very pleasant experience. For me, next time I would prepare beverage for participants to choose. A table cloth would improve the visual pleasure. 

Before: two dishes from L'os Panda
After: Entre Escalivada & Main Chicken with Mushroom
made by Mireia 

1 comment:

  1. Great exchange Siying, I like how foods have been 'regrouped' :)