Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More than just food

Day XI  - 7 days to xmas

My residency project continues after my first weekend in Barcelona. Two participants joined with me for Chinese TakeAway dinner on this Monday and Tuesday. Cederic Camier (France) and Yaiza Jaiz (Spain).

Cederic Camier is a music composer and Acoustic researcher who lives in Montreal, Canada. He is doing Jiwar residency to compose music for a play.

I ordered 'Eight Treasures (Stirfry mixed seafood)' and 'Stirefry Chinese Cabbage' and Steam Rice from L'os Panda for the dinner with Cederic.

Cederic made entree Truite Meuniere, main Prawn and mushroom Paella and last course Green Salad. We ate them orderly based on French dinner manner.

 Chin_rench dinner made by Cederic. Entree, main course & last course (L-R).
Truite Meuniere is a trout dish. Meuniere is the way of cooking the fish: fry both side of fish on a fry pan. Trout is a common river fish in French cuisine. There are five main rivers in France. Fishing in river is a very popular activity in France.

Why people see ghosts
"What you believe is true." I said this to him when I talked about the saints stories in Catholic culture. It lead our conversation move to the topic of ghosts. Scientists did an experiment on the sites where people saw ghosts. These sites are in a magnetic field that produces an unique frequency of vibration. This frequency affects people's retina and pupils to projects a human shape in front of eyes and knowledge it to brain. Then, under the impact of personal memories and emotion status people see certain ghosts.

ha! Following this theory, I started to wonder if the ghosts are the physical reaction from the vibration. The shape of the ghost could have been the mirrored contour of the viewer.  So, in other word, the ghost that people saw were actually the viewer themselves. *Wacky indeed! Who cares of the accuracy of this theory.*

Etiquette at dining table in France
According to Cederic, the polite body gesture at dining table is to sit straight and no elbows on the table.

If you are a guest, you leave a little bit food on your plate when you finish a dish. It shows the generosity of the host. You are given more food then you need. But you cant leave too much on your plate. It means food is bad. Just a little!

Using bread to scrape the source in your plate is a peasant behaviour.

Traditionally wife of the host makes the first toast and offers to serve the food. The guests should refuse the offer at the first or second time. If she insists, then guests let her do it.

People at the table are arranged to sit next to a person opposite sex to them. Couples who have been together more than one year will be separated at the table. However, those couples who know each other less than one year are the exception.

Yaiza Jaiz is a young journalist who has lived in Barcelona for five years. Her family is from Cantabria region.

According to my Traveladvisor app, there are two other Chinese Restaurants in this neighbourhood. For the dinner with Yaiza, I decided to get dinner from a new place - Prosperidad.

Decorated with a typical Chinese red gate at the entrance, Prosperidad looks more formal than L'os Panda. It seems that they have more choices on the menu than the other. I ordered Vegetable Steamed Rice Dumplings, 'Tie Ban Duck', 'Stirfry mixed vegetables' and Steam Rice.

When I reached home with the takeaway, Yaiza had waited at the front door. Yaiza was my first Spanish participant except for Mireia, the manager of Jiwar. Despite the language barrier, we proceeded the project from a brief introduction about Yaiza. When I asked Yaiza to transfer the dishes, she seemed a bit reserved. (maybe Duck and mix vegetable are hard for her.) Yaiza told me in Spain Duck was not a common food. If people have to cook duck, they would take the whole duck into the oven. It was very difficult to form a whole duck from the dish. So, she grouped all duck meat in the centre for a plate and green vegetable, mushroom and little bit rice on the side. It was the way that duck would be presented on a plate.

So, in the end Yaiza made entree: Ravioli, first course: Pisto and second course: Pato with mushroom.

Entree & two courses (L -R) made by Yaiza
Caga Tio

Caga Tio [1] meant 'shit log'. Yaiza used body language to explain to me. When we talked about the traditional celebration of Christmas in her hometown, I told her the wood logs with a painted smile face, a red blanket and santa hat that I saw at so many places in Barcelona.

It was Catalan Christmas tradition. Caga Tio gave children gifts at Christmas eve. Instead of American Santa Clause who jumped through the chimney and put the gifts in the socks, Caga Tio shitted the gifts out when people used sticks to beat 'shit out of it' at Christmas eve. From early december, Catalan families would get a Caga Tio to the house and fed it with oranges till Christmas eve.  Like American Christmas tale, Caga tio did not shit gifts all the time. It would have charcoal to the badly behaved children.


Yaiza also told me that in her family region people celebrated the 6th of January, Epiphany day. It was the day that people would receive gifts. But in Italy (Sicily) people celebrated the 5th January. ( Yaiza lives in Sicily for a year.) A witch, Befana [2], would come in the night to leave gifts in socks and also sweep the floor before she left. (So much more useful than Santa!)

The story about Befana made me suddenly understand a craft object that I saw at a Christmas market. in Barcelona. The object was a small sculpture. It featured a witch head, a broom and some Christmas fruit.

The conversation between Yaiza and I at the dinner table went for hours. The topics jumped from food to her family region, from Spain to Italy, from urban life style to the books she had worked on. She left for home after 11pm.

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