Adam Schell

September 29, 2009

Una Lettera De Cordoba

For the majority of my closest friends who often lack the patience for me and my musings and/or the interest in reading in general, I imagine that a seven–make that eight– page email is going to annoy you to no end. (Worry not, Milo, I have not lumped you into that motley pile.) In short; for the too busy, impatient, dyslectic, I-Podista and Blackberriest, take heart, no need to read further, but know that Tracy, Asher and I are well and healthy, enjoying ourselves immensely and eating more green olives than we ever might have imagined here in the glorious south of Spain. (Though, the perilous lack of quality fiber in the Andalucian diet does wreck it?s share of havoc on the North American bowel.) For the ambitious few who dare to read on, thank you, and I hope you enjoy this account of our first week in Cordoba.

Each morning begins with an assault of caffeine, white sugar and immaculately bleached flour, but, somehow, being in Spain rationalizes what I would usually consider an affront to God and gastronomy 피크앱플레이어 다운로드. Even more so, being that breakfast Cordoba-style leaves much to be desired– with the extraordinary and near-ubiquitous fresh-squeezed orange juice being the one notable exception. But then again, considering that the Spaniards have managed to manipulate their time keeping so that sunrise is at like 8:30, and work begins at 10, and then stops at 1; truth is, no one frets much over breakfast when lunch is just a mere 3 hours away.

Nevertheless, since I?ve brought the subject up; Breakfast choices consist of croissant, which, perhaps, when it was originally made in France some 72 hours earlier may have once been delicious, or pan (bread), with the choice of butter and jam, or olive oil. Tracy usually opts for the croissant, while I go for pan tostada (toasted), with olive oil and tomato (more like a watery tomato puree) and Manchego cheese, when available 이모 디오 다운로드. Truth is, just about any good bakery in the States makes a better baguette than the bland and starchy stuff uniformly served by all 17 restaurants we have thus far visited, (think an oblong, crunchy and less sweet loaf of Wonder Bread and you?ve pretty much got the picture). But a seat at an outdoor cafe amid a 12th century palazzo and olive oil –robust, a touch spicy up front with a delicious buttery finish–come to the rescue and turn the day?s first meal into a wonderfully transportive experience.

Overall, it must be said, that the food of Cordoba is not the stuff of modern day awe and lore that is happening in the North of Spain. Comida Tipica, as it?s called is pretty much exactly that: Basic peasant fare comprised mostly of their revered Jamon, potatoes boiled or fried, cheese, seafood, meat, extraordinarily delicious olives, and a seeming city wide ban on any vegetable of significant nutritional value. Being a lacto-pesco-ovo-terian, as I am, has not been especially difficult in Cordoba, provided one reconciles themselves to potatoes, mayonnaise, white bread and iceberg lettuce 다운로드. The fruit, to my surprise, is largely awful–tasteless peaches, pears with skin like leather, either inedible green or queeze -inducing brown bananas and kiwis. On the delicious side, the roasted peppers, white asparagus, baccala (cod fish), and just about everything they fry, which is A LOT, is rather delicious and available everywhere. The beer, Cruz Campo!, besides for being ridiculously fun to say, is cold and delicious and Tracy and I have drunk more of it in seven days than the preceding seven years. The sherry they drink in these parts, Montilla, well, to put it politely, let?s just say I haven?t acquired a taste for it yet. And oh yes, did I mention the olives 다운로드? Asher?s new baby food of choice! And when rice pudding is to found, my wife is the happiest tourist on the block. (On a curious note, as I read in a Carlos Ruiz Zafon novel, Spain is a place where a waiter never retires, they just eventually drop dead. It?s true. I have never had so many octogenarian waiters, often causing me to wonder if that ?death? has come in mid-service.)

While the food my lack some luster, the city certainly does not. My God, Cordoba is a city of exquisite beauty and ancient charms. Near-thousand year old cobblestone streets bend and meander, narrow and widen in a dance of light and shade, revealing one hidden palazzo after another, Roman ruins, Moorish arches, fecund courtyards and plant draped patios. And everywhere life abounds, be it the orange trees that frame the palazzos, old men enjoying the day?s 20th cigarette and first beer at 11 am, humorless waiters scurrying to and fro catering to local and tourist alike and receiving nary a tip from either (present company, of course, excluded–for heavens sake I was a waiter for far too long), children on foot, on scooters and in strollers, cars squealing along the narrow streets and forcing all pedestrians to tuck, tip-toed against buildings and suck in their stomachs, and over-priced horse-drawn carriages clopping and jingling tourists through, what for Tracy, Asher and I proved to be an utterly delightful journey that looked, smelled and sounded straight from the 15th century 의천도룡기 자막 다운로드.

The citizens of Cordoba, too, are of good cheer and quick with a smile and tickle of Asher?s cheek. They also seem to mind little my and Tracy?s horrendous abuses of the Spanish language. The comical highlight of which took place just the other day while visiting with a travel agent and assuring her that we do not need a crib for Asher at our hotel in Sevilla because we, ?Duerme en una camisa de familia.? It was only after repeating ?camisa? like five times that the trio of travel agents in the office realized that I meant to say, Cama, which means ?bed,? and that we do not spend the night in a large family ?Shirt.?

Even for my research purposes the citizens of Cordoba smile upon us as we have been fortunate enough to meet and befriend the two directors of the local Seferad House–a museum dedicated to the history of Jews in Cordoba 크롬 토도우 다운로드. To think, that I have met perhaps the only keepah-wearing ?reverso Converso? in the history of Spain–meaning that he has converted from Catholicism to Judaism! Planning on reconnecting with him when we return to Cordoba on October 10th for research and tours.

(Right now the plan is to be in Sevilla until the 1st of October, then we head to Huelva, home to many of the important Columbus sights, then to Granada. In terms of a longer term stay in Cordoba, we?re still debating the pros and cons.)

We have been staying in the old Jewish quarter, Juderia, adjacent to the enormous 13th century mosque, La Mezquita. Though our hotel is, quite literally, nothing to write home about, the streets just outside are, literally, are the stuff of great literature. And while the mosque, churches and synagogue each tell a story, it?s the streets that seem to speak the loudest to Tracy and I url 주소. They are like works of art, comprised of cobblestone and brick and often accented by these wonderful mosaics of small rivers stones, arranged in alternating patterns of light and dark, which, from hundreds of years of being walked upon, have been buffed especially smooth and shiny. Though they seem to bother Asher?s knees when crawling, I can?t help but slide off my shoes to let the river stone palazzos message my feet.

La Mezquita, the cultural and touristic focal point of Cordoba, an enormous 13th century mosque turned church just outside our front door is both a magnificent and a bizarrely loathsome building. The size of about three football fields, it was originally comprised of some 760 (my estimate) marble columns with these striking double arches of interspersed red and white bricks, and walls and ceilings of exquisite, largely gold, Moorish mosaics and wood carvings. Dark and mysterious, the Mosque is dissected and accented by beams of light streaming in through portals and patterns cut into the vaulted stone ceiling 리눅스 http 파일. It?s a powerful, prayerful and hypnotic structure that seems almost tent like and swaying in the breeze. Yet lo and behold, in 1523, the Christianos planted a mind-boggling enormous, 100 foot high Baroque Cathedral smack dab in the center. The Cathedral is, without doubt, a gorgeous and impressive structure, but it?s in the entirely in the wrong place. The former King of Spain, Carlos V, who ironically gave permission for the Cathedral?s construction, had this to say upon first seeing it; ?You have built what you or others might have built anywhere and destroyed something that was unique in the world.? My sentiments exactly!

There are other places, though, where the feeling of being a 14th Century Moor or Judeo in Cordoba come thrillingly to life. The first is the small, humble and beautiful Sinagoga. A 25 foot squared building with a high, vaulted ceiling, Hebrew letters etched into the walls and the energy of prayers and heartache still echoing about 다운로드. From an architectural standpoint, the Sinagoga hardly holds a candle to even the most paltry church in Spain, but considering that it is one of only three remaining in a country where 600 years ago there where hundreds, well it lends the building a certain power and significance.

My other favorite place, two blocks or so from La Mezquita, is the Hammam, an ancient Arab bath house, fastidiously recreated in the very place where it existed some 700 years before. Here, fountains and pools and tiles and lanterns and incense commingle to create an entirely meditative and transportive experience. I know many of you who often wonder aloud about my ?true? sexual orientation will hardly be surprised that I so quickly found Cordoba?s one bathhouse. Sadly, though, it?s hardly a house of ill-repute, as both Tracy and Asher felt right at home as well and equally moved by the Hammam?s magic 자바 7 64 비트 다운로드. (Corey I imagine you would do little else in Cordoba.) Shrouded in steam, wafting with incense, the story that I have come here to research came gloriously to life in that bathhouse. I could just feel the old stones talking to me, and as a writer on a research trip nothing could be a greater compliment to a place.

Tomorrow we leave for Sevilla, (actually we left two days ago, but it?s taken me two days to figure out how to upload photos from my new camera).

...back