When sitting minding our own business in a beach bar in Tarifa, the bar man asked my friend Gala, in an amusing accent, ‘you want juice?’ (pronounced jewice). She politely refused and off we went to soak up the sun in peace. Yet, five minutes later, along he comes, plonking down in front of us a fruit smoothie, “no alcohol”, and walks away. Left not quite knowing what to do with it, we quickly came to the conclusion that it would be rude to leave it to go warm in the sun, and rapidly drank it up. If that wasn’t random enough, along he comes fifteen minutes later, again glass in hand, and again without words, sits a strawberry daiquiri down next to us and walks away. Now more baffled, but coming to the conclusion that he was experimenting with his cocktail making, we again consume it. When leaving the bar an hour or so later, our ‘friend’ had miraculously disappeared, so we couldn’t even say thank you nor acquire any sort of explanation.
A similar scenario was sprung upon us on our recent trip to Cadiz. We were so hungry that we found ourselves in one of those rare situations that we needed to eat just to eat (which, being a foodie, I really do not enjoy!). We stopped in the nearest tapas bar and ordered straight away without much thought. Half way through our dishes, the waiter slid past and, yet again with no words, placed down another dish that we hadn’t ordered.
After our meal, we didn’t make it far without being tempted again by some delicious looking chocolate ice cream next door. We went to order and, surprise surprise, it was our waiter from lunch who greeted us with ‘oh it’s you again!’ We ordered a mini chocolate cone each, which he gave us for free and which was absolutely delicious. On enquiring if it was made on the premises (it was that good that we needed to know), we discovered that in fact it was an award-winning ice cream from the local area and that the interior was covered in newspaper cuttings and even a trophy. The Italian founders (from Milan and Genova) previously earned their livings as a journalist and an ice hockey team manager, yet on a trip to Cadiz they decided to fulfil their foodie passion and they opened up a heladería (ice cream shop), which went on to gain deserved recognition. The waiters asked us if we would like a tasting of other flavours, which we obviously accepted! It was delicious and very worthy of its award, especially the chocolate which was thick and extremely chocolatey, real chocolate rather than this chocolate flavoured rubbish you so often come across. So there we go, an award-winning ice cream tasting which we stumbled upon by mere chance!
Reading these little episodes, you may be left with a picture of us as typical naive and silly foreigners who could get themselves in to an awkward situation. But no, we are in fact extremely wary of suspicious scenarios, and you would never catch us following anyone anywhere with the promise of an exciting foodie experience, however ‘normal’ in appearance they may be. The amusing factor is that in each case the waiters have done everything without explanation and not even expecting a conversation. We are not even particularly friendly, as my friend is half Spanish and is very used to the Spanish male attitude towards foreigners. We are certainly different in appearance, being blonde and light-skinned, and I imagine that our passion for food manifested through our expressions provides them with entertainment on a mundane day at the office! Also when people are so obviously appreciating their food, chefs generally like to show off and share their passion. We would never give too many details about ourselves nor where we’re going (don’t worry mum and dad!), we just enjoy the experience for what it is and gain snippets of knowledge. In this way they’re happy, we’re happy; What’s the harm in that?!