While hiking in Sierra Nevada would seem like the highlight of our recent trip to Spain, let's all take a moment and be realistic.
Our annual trip to Spain is the one time of year our family sets aside to come together and relax, talk, and reset.
It's a time of relaxation
boozing with great adult pride
And enjoying mighty good meals. The food in Spain is in a category all on it's own, which I believed deserved it's own post.
Delicious dessert means sometimes getting so captivated by what's under your nose you're blissfully unaware someone is taking a photo of you
( ^ it's what happens if you put cocoa, which in Spain is translated to a cup of molten chocolate with a gigantic dollop of ice-cream, in front of Lars and I...)
The toast in the above photo is a classic Spanish dessert served around Easter. Torrijas are basically fried bread drenched in honey, and it tastes exactly as it sounds. Far too sweet for my palate, but the Spanish kids seemed to enjoy it 🙂
Our lunches were straight out of a cooking show. Spanish classics enjoyed on a daily basis included paella
Fresh seafood straight from the ocean behind you cooked right in front of you
vegetables so fresh you can practically taste the farmer's hands
(Maybe that just sounded more unsanitary than appealing... Anyway, moving right along...)
Spanish version of aioli, called Ali-oil, on fresh bread with prawns pil-pil on top = heaven
Sardines that taste like an ocean fiesta in your mouth
Fresh peppers roasted in the grill, with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and onion
Local wine (is there a study published explaining why Spanish wine tastes better on the beach than at home?)
Or, sangria, which might be the only appropriate form of hydration for such a setting
In the event of occasional spillage of heavily pigmented adult beverages, take advice from my brother Mike, who demonstrated the decency of stripping mid-lunch in a seaside restaurant to put salt on the stain
And continuing to enjoy lunch sans-shirt
Such behavior is not frowned upon here 😉
In true Spanish form, our daily indulgence came in the form of fresh, grilled, white fish
The sea bass was grilled by a friendly Spanish fisherman we were convinced was the retired owner of FC Barcelona, but became drained by his career and traded his lavish lifestyle for a more humble one oceanside, enjoying life's simplest, yet greatest pleasures :
Fresh fish and sunshine
You got it right, buddy.
But the culinary fun wasn't only had at lunch. Each morning, after our morning run on the beach and swim in the ocean we re-fueled with the infamous, no-fail, breakfast bowl.
Which is more of an exquisite, indulgent dessert masterpiece when prepared in Spain!
Each day we picked up a few essentials from the grocery store so we could make our breakfasts with the freshest ingredients. Oatmeal, yogurt, an assortment of dried fruit and fresh fruit, nuts and chia seeds were on this tropical delight each morning. This breakfast is always a winner. Healthy and delicious every time !
Our family's annual birthright is a tradition I hope to keep for many years to come, mainly because I always feel like I've completely restarted my system.
During our lunches we always have discussions (what my brother calls 'deep philosophical analyses') about our lives, careers, hopes, dreams, conflicts, anything. My favorite discussions of this year stemmed from: "How do you daydream your life to be in 5 years?" And, "What are the qualities of your ideal house?" (Relevant because Michael and Jenna are looking at houses!) Or, "What are five things you can't live without?" The answers to these seemingly simple questions are always thought provoking, and are far more difficult to answer than you'd initially expect. For example, when I think about what I can't live without (aside from vital necessities like shelter, oxygen and mac & cheese) I realized I'm doing just fine without most of them right now.
- My family close by
- A dog
- A house with a yard (where my dog can play and I can garden)
- My current education / (future) career
Of the above list, I currently have the first and the last, but with the inevitable two year long-distance relationship Lars and I are running into this summer, the only one of the list of 5 I see being constant is my education and career. I've lived an ocean away from half of my family since I was 17, a dog is my hopeful wish I know I couldn't be without, and I have been craving a house with a yard since I moved from home nine years ago.
So really when it comes down to it, what can't we live without?
I challenge you to have this discussion with your families next time you sit down together. It's incredibly interesting to hear what everyone truly values, and better yet, you can learn a lot about yourself as well!
After all that "deep philosophical crap" to quote Mike, it's nice to be able to relax at one of the many wine bars in La Cala.
Offering the best of the region's wine, enjoying a glass after a day at the beach or walking around town is a true delight. You can easily walk in with sand still on your feet or dressed to the nines. All forms of casual, happy people are welcome.
You can't walk down a street in town without running into a tapas and wine bar. They're a perfect place to stop into before or after dinner. It is Spain afterall, so these places are open well into the night!
But let's rewind into the actual truth of all of this. None of this matters if you don't share it with the people you love. I feel like I just culminate a bunch of things throughout the semester that just make me so stressed (working as a physician is just like student life, right?), confused (what exactly are taxes though?) and butt sad (two year long distance relationships are normal for 20-somethings, right?), and the minute I see my family I'm able to work through everything to the point where I'm laughing so hard my gut hurts, about to pass out and am seeing sparkles.
And good food certainly helps fuel all that therapy 😉
Thanks Spain for feeding not only our endless appetites but our souls. Until next year!