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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Barcelona, Day 3 [20051126|23:47]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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I woke up much too early. I was so desperate for something non-alcoholic that I grabbed an orange juice from the hotel mini-bar and drank it all down without stopping for breath. That and a shower provided me with enough fuel to leave the hotel. We limped into the morning sunshine and stopped at Café Zurich in the Plaça de Catalunya. It was freezing cold, but sitting outside seemed appealing as a means of avoiding the thick layer of cigarette smoke that seems to permeate every eating and drinking establishment in the city. In short succession, we met a cat named Nino and a Frenchman at a neighboring table. Nino claimed my lap for Catalunya in his cracked, unmelodious voice.

Nino the Café Zurich cat


The Frenchman spoke wobbly Spanish, fluent French (duh) and no English. Marco speaks fluent Spanish and English and wobbly French. I speak wobbly Spanish, fluent English and no French. Our skill sets, therefore, were mostly orthogonal, as illustrated in the following table.

Our skill sets
FrenchSpanishEnglish
MeNoWobblyFluent
MarcoWobblyFluentFluent
FrenchmanFluentWobblyNo


The constant switching between languages as we tried to understand one another, coupled with the thick cobwebs of hangover clogging my brain, caused me to remain mostly silent, smiling and petting Nino.

Me, el gato Nino and Frenchman shading his eyes


We had to return to the hotel for an hour so I could lie down and feel ill, but after that we window-shopped, walked through La Ribera, where I took most of the pictures in this post and sat down to a late and delicious lunch of Cuban food at Havana Vieja. Arroz con frijoles, ropa vieja, guava juice y mucho café make for a hangover cure that rivals even the full English.

Candied fruit inside the Mercat de Santa Caterina


Our travels led us past another of the markets and eventually to the port itself.

One of the sets of windows is painted onMuseum, I don't remember which (hangover)


Water fountain. It doesn't work; we triedCenturies climb upwards


The stiff breezes sent us scurrying back to the Barri Gótic, where we stopped by cramped, low-lit, wood-beamed Salterio for fresh mint tea. It's made slowly, with one infusion of mint leaves allowed to steep for several minutes in sugar and hot water, and then a second bunch added to the pot and steeped a while longer. They served it in brass teapots with long curved spouts, and we poured it ourselves into tiny glasses. It was divine.

Marco sipping his hot tea
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: omniana
2005-12-01 20:00 (UTC)
Nino! Nino is very cute. Your mint tea sounds fabulous. sounds intense.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 10:16 (UTC)
It was so wonderful. I thought of you - you would have loved it. I want to try making it at home, but I already have more tea equipment than most people would ever deem necessary. I have separate pots and cups for tisane, green teas and black teas. Given the limited space we have in the flat, I'm not sure there's room for another teapot and a set of small glasses.
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[User Picture]From: prosicated
2005-12-02 14:29 (UTC)
but that's why they're small! I want good sweet mint tea, too. Lacking a brass teapot, I will have to make do some other way.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 19:24 (UTC)
I was thinking that using a stove-top coffee maker might work, because those are meant to be used over low heat. So you could put the first infusion of leaves into the metal filter, gently heat the water and sugar, swish it around a bit with a honey dipper (I saw them do this) and add the second infusion of leaves once you took it off the burner.
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[User Picture]From: prosicated
2005-12-02 21:04 (UTC)
Mm, might do. I, on the other hand, had been thinking of one of th bodum teapots, the modified French presses. First infusion in the strainer, plunge it and add the sweetener and second infusion. I shall test the method this afternoon, in fact. =)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-07 12:03 (UTC)
So did it work?
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[User Picture]From: prosicated
2005-12-08 12:26 (UTC)
Not knowing what I was aiming for, I think it worked wonderfully. It had much more body than a mint infusion usually does, the fresh leaves (dried though they were) added top notes against the richer, longer-steeped then purged ones. I put in plenty of sugar, which is not how I'm used to taking my tea, but it worked quite well with the flavor, and because of the loose leaves, the taste changed as I drank the pot.

Yum!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-08 12:32 (UTC)
Yes! That's exactly how ours was! The second infusion added complexity to the taste and the flavor changed each time we re-filled our glasses. Wonderful, I'll use this method too. :-)
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[User Picture]From: prosicated
2005-12-08 13:22 (UTC)
Good, good. Now I'm glad to know I can simulate tea recipes at home, sans original reference point.
Enjoy your tea, I'm going to make more of this now!!!
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[User Picture]From: omniana
2005-12-02 03:23 (UTC)
Or, if you make the diagonal all the fluents, there's a strong correlation of No between English speakers and French speakers.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 10:18 (UTC)
Hehe. Who's a huge nerd?

Er, wait. I guess that's both of us.
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