Speaking of offal things…
Summertime, in case you hadn’t noticed, conjures up memories of España for me. This is simply because instead of going to day camp, or sleep away camp, or – well – any camp at all, we went to Madrid. As a young child we would stay in Madrid proper, first in a hotel, then in an apartment my parents purchased in a neighborhood call Alcorcón. Then we moved to my grandfather´s town, Hoyo de Manzanares. That´s when the fun began. More on this later.
In the last couple of years the hubby and I have started yearly trips to Madrid. This is because he is the most wonderful husband on earth. He does it to make me happy. He makes me very, very happy and I love him very much. We also do it to provide our daughters with as much exposure to different cultures as we can. To me, Spanish culture really is not ¨different¨. It´s different from when I was a kid, but it´s something comfortable and familiar. To them, for now, it´s still ¨different¨.
This year, like last year, we took the girls to visit Hoyo de Manzanares, or simply ¨Hoyo¨ as we townies refer to it. My tios have a favorite restaurant there called ¨La Cabilda¨, which is named after the large town parkland just outside of Hoyo. (When I was a kid it was undeveloped and the site of many ¨excursiones¨ where our favorite pastime was climbing rocks, eating and catching lizards. We didn’t eat the lizards. We would eat and then we would catch lizards. Eating after you catch lizards would be kind of gross, wouldn’t it?) We liked the restaurant the first time we went, so we were happy to go back. It is a pretty typical neighborhood restaurant where the food is good and consistent. Nothing fancy.
We´d already anticipated what my tio and tia would order. As is typical of many older people (including myself…) they are creatures of habit. When you are 89 years old and there is a dish you like and can eat without getting sick well, by jove, you order it again and again. And so they ordered the ¨fritura individual¨ – the plate of assorted fried fish and seafood. God bless them. If at their age I can eat a plate full of fried food like this without throwing up a section of intestine, I will be one happy woman.
What would we order? It didn´t take long for the hubby to figure it out. ¨Solomillo¨ a.k.a. filet mignon, wrapped in bacon. My oldest decided to order ¨una pizza¨ por favor. ¨¿¡Pizaa¡? ¿Que va a pedir una pizza? Vaya con la americana.¨ Loosely translated this means ¨Pizza! You americans…¨ But she got the pizza, and the best part of it all was watching my 89 year old tio and my 84 year old tia eating pizza for the very first time in their lives. That was memorable for me. The twins ordered chicken, which they devoured, followed by an ice cream chaser.
Finally, the question turned to me. ¨¿Y para usted? El rabo de toro, por favor.¨ Bull´s tail. My uncle and aunt asked me if I was sure I wanted to order it. I said yes. And so it arrived, and it was de-licious. The meat was tender, and fatty and fell off the bone. Honestly, it reminded me of Osso Bucco or even braised short ribs. I won´t claim to be as crazy about bones as my mother is; I will not suck the ¨tuetano¨ out of the middle of them. That is her specialty. I draw the line at marrow. But I did take bread and spread some on with a knife, and it was quite tasty. I´d like to think that my tio was quietly impressed, although I do remember him saying that I had not eaten the whole thing. If I had eaten both sections of tail, they would have had to roll the americana out the door.
In considering this meal I would repeat what I have heard and read such chefs as Marco Pierre White, Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay say. Cuts of meat like filets mignon are OK (actually they might not be so nice) but if you want a tasty meal you go for the cheap cuts. As I child I would never have ordered or eaten bull´s tail. All my girls tried it. I didn´t make a big deal out of it. And maybe they will remember the meal when they get to be my age.
¨Do you remember the time that mommy ordered the bull´s tail?¨
Incidentally… my uncle and aunt did not like the pizza. ¨Muy empalagoso.¨ Cloyingly sweet.