My top 8 favourite things about Córdoba.

 

1. It’s beautiful.

When I first moved here, I walked around the streets in disbelief that I had the fortune to spend a year in such a beautiful city. Being surrounded by beauty has a way that lifts the spirits. Sure, it was bathed in summer sunlight then, but even in winter, it often is still and the fresh chill in the air doesn’t make the streets any less beautiful. I love the traditional cobbled streets, white and yellow houses with balconies, and the statues that are still popping up around the city. I was also lucky enough to bag my own apartment in the centre, which is equally as pretty inside.

Cordoba December 2016 080.JPG
Pretty, even in the rain.

2. It’s chilled.

The general vibe of the city is pretty chilled out. People are friendly, and forgiving for those like me who struggle to speak Spanish. This means I can enjoy my job relatively stress-free, and day-to-day life is easy-going. Whatever reason for the happy-vibes here, it has had an enormous impact on my wellbeing and mental health. I used to find it hard to relax, but now whenever I get a voice that says what I “should” be doing, I am able to justify my decisions, whether that’s going for a long lunch at De Tapas instead of staying in and being “productive”, or whether it’s taking time out of Spanish classes (which had been stressing me out) and going swimming instead, or even just making more time to indulge in reading. I write poetry regularly and naturally, and whenever I sit down with the intention to write a short story or article, it feels unpressured and enjoyable.

098.JPG

3. It’s sunny.

Okay, I’m not going to lie, the weather was one of the main motivations for moving here. My first focus was that I wanted to learn Spanish, but I didn’t even look at places in the north like San Sebastian. Long days, that are often sunny and often without rain, are naturally going to make you feel good. With bright blue skies, you can’t complain.

4. It’s small.

Along with the sunny weather, something that is paramount for my mental health is not having to travel on tubes and trains everywhere. Growing up in London, you get so used to its chaos. I’m a highly sensitive person, and I’ve been reminded of certain aspects of this recently – parts of myself that I hadn’t truly taken note of, having not realised the emotion impact. It is absolute bliss to be able to walk everywhere. It’s under five minutes to walk to work, under two to the gym, and the friend that lives furthest from me is only a twenty-minute walk. I’m surrounded by restaurants and shops. Everything I could want is practically on my doorstep. Sadly, it’s impossible to find this situation in London – either too expensive or too difficult to live near work. I know I want to come back to the UK, but moving back in with my parents is a massive compromise on the happiness and independence that I have here.

5. It’s clean.

This point doesn’t need much explaining. It goes along with the beauty, that it needs to be maintained. During the night, the streets are washed down, made fresh and sparkly clean for  the morning.

6. It’s cheap. 

Again, the fact that I can afford an apartment on my own, with a fairly modest wage, right in the centre of the city, is incredible when compared with the UK. I can eat well for less, and eating and drinking out is cheap to, having already mention De Tapas, where you can get a caña for 60 cents, and a small dish for 90 cents. It’s 2.50 for churros con chocolate at Marta’s, and you can get an ice-cream for between 1-3 euros, depending on size. Perfeco!

Cordoba December 2016 283.JPG
These skewers from Mercado Victoria are the best!

7. The food.

So, speaking of food. I had to change this from 5 to 8 things, because I couldn’t leave out the food. I love the typically Spanish dishes such as tortilla and paella, but one of the reasons I love going to De Tapas is that I am surprised by so many new dishes. It’s also very unlike me to enjoy something like that, as I usually order the same things if given a choice, and I don’t tend to fare well with the unexpected. But I like how it forces me to relax and be in a state where I am not in control. It’s also all so delicious.

8. The culture.

It’s a strange thing to feel connected to Spanish culture, but also that it is still something  from which I am an outsider. I love walking through the streets to hear the music play, and recently got to see the most amazing flamenco show. The passion of their voices, the skill in the movement, the rhythm of the music. I want to write more about this, but I almost find it hard to describe. I just know that each day I am making memories, and I will look back on this year as a highlight of my life.

Cordoba December 2016 328.JPG

Food Goes In, Poetry Comes Out # 1

I work in East London, which can mean over an hour of travelling to and from my home. If I want to go to poetry events, I have to eat out (if I want to eat, which I do). In order to make this more productive and worthwhile, I thought I would use it to aid my creativity. I’m going to post up a series of poems in the category ‘Food Goes In, Poetry Comes Out’ which will consist of poems that I write whilst eating my dinner before going to gigs. This will last as long as I’m still living with my parents, or until I run out of steam with it… whichever comes first. Here are the first three I finished last month.

October 002

The Beer House, Waterloo

9th October 2013

Beer House, you have redeemed yourself from our last meeting. Well done.
As I reached into the familiar cup-like bowl (again, surprisingly small)
I had a flashback to the frustration at finding, after pouring my favourite liquid
(gravy) over the mini steak and ale pie, the aforementioned pie was cold.
I had left the premises and bought a Cornish Pasty from the station instead.
As you can imagine, my stomach had a difficult decision in coming back
(today’s alternative was sushi).

So, when I reached for a tortilla chip
to scoop up some chilli con carne, I was pleasantly relieved. Surprised, also,
that such a small bowl could be so filling. That said, here I am, subtly
sneaking Skittles into my mouth with my glass of over-priced orange juice.

 

October 054

Bukowski Grill

15th October 2013

I almost forgot to eat. Almost.
Quick crossing and up those familiar steps
for a chicken burger and chips
far superior to Maccy Ds. Charcoal
and BBQ sauce – my favourite condiment.
I wished
to have a pot
to dip
these oil drenched chips, so bad
and yet so good. Crispy on the outside
yet so soft once bitten. I wonder
how people can just miss meals like
oh tomorrow, we’ll cram for the exam,
or get sushi-to-go on the last train home.
I almost for go to eat. Almost.
I am not quite like them yet.

October 058

Vegetable Korma, The Gallery Cafe

17th October 2013

The night I got locked in the school
I had a vegetable korma.
I don’t know whether it was
the relief of getting out the building
but joy exuded it like steam;
I also got it with a voucher,
which was an added bonus
that made me feel
deserving of dessert.
I’m generally more of a
chicken bhuna girl,
been warming to massala,
but a vegetarian korma
seemed the best option;
jasmine rice in a perfect mound
with carrot and broccoli masquerading as meat,
a touch of spinach and sultanas in the mix,
sweet and coconut, delight in creamy sauce,
leave the salad to the side.

There’s More to Life Than Cheese

Because I love writing lists and love food I have decided to write a list of the different foods I like!  Plus, I get irritated when people think that just because I don’t like cheese that there’s loads of things I can’t eat (which is only true for the most part because cheese is something that’s added to dishes a lot).  I used to be ‘fussy’ but I object to this label, because in the past the reason for this is due to fear of being scared to try new things in case I didn’t like them and therefore it would be a waste and I’d get no food.  I was locked in a classroom and forced to eat fish fingers at primary school though I hated them, and so this probably has something to do with that fear.  I am now not afraid to try new food, though I still know what I like and like to eat those things!  I also hate to waste food, so with often either over-eat or save some for the next day’s lunch.  I still worry I won’t like things but am willing to try new foods, but this worry, combined with my weird little particularities and habits about how I like my food means I’m sometimes still called fussy.  However, I also have been known to have things in my packed lunch that aren’t as traditional as others expect, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that just because I don’t like what YOU like that I don’t have a varied palette.

So, here’s the list, which will probably expand in the future!

-Chicken – in pretty much any form, my consistent and reliable love.

-Satay sauce – the reason why Dexter’s Grill/Tootsies became my favourite restaurant and I nearly cried when they took the dish featuring the sauce off the menu and I switched to the BBQ sauce burger.

-dark chocolate and milk (not full fat) – sometimes I worry I drink so much I’ll become lactose-intolerant

– Tortilla Española – my Gran makes the best.  Basically this food sums up my BIGGEST love for both potatoes and egg which I love in every form possible.  I also have tortilla paisana after having peas in an omlette at The Noshery in Isleworth with friends Ricky and Eamon, and have sadly not been since.

-Olives – you can’t be a Masoliver and not like olives… my favourite are pitted with pimiento.

-Kiwi juice – only ever found some in Sainsbury’s, pricey so it was a rarity, but sooo worth it!

-Seaweed peanuts – another one showing my peanut addiction, also love cashews, pistachios, brazils, walnuts etc. 

-Crab – although I’m not sure of the amount of actual crab in them, I used to have seafood sticks in my packed lunch.

-Raisins – my friends from secondary school once cut out and wrote on an advert for Sunmaid because they thought of me.

-Meatballs – specifically from Ikea with that lovely gravy and chips, yummm!

-Currywurst as made by my housemate Kirstie.

-In terms of meats… beef steaks, pork belly, sausages (proper hotdogs with ketchup and onions or chipolatas), maybe a bit of lamb or turkey but they’re not faves!

-Salmon stir-fry with lots of veg and soy sauce.

-And so in terms of more fish… lobster, cockles, shrimps, prawns, crayfish, squid/calamari – I have been asked by friends how to peel their prawns and also have friends who have been scared to eat squid. Tinned tuna only though. Mussels I’d rather not have but can deal with.

-Fruit – grapes, raspberries, strawberries, mango, oranges, pineapple, apple, pear, melon, grapefruit, cherries, peach, nectarine, blackberries, blueberries, plum, currents, lemon, lychees, avocado, banana, kiwifruit, passionfruit, watermelon, butternut squash.

-Vegetables – peas, broccoli, pepper, carrots, raw mushrooms, sprouts, lettuce (good old iceberg is best), kale, chickpeas, most kinds of bean, cabbage, onion, seaweed, cress, cucumber, lentils, asparagus, garlic, spring onion, bamboo shoot, water chestnut, sweetcorn, babycorn, sugarsnaps, greenbeans.

-Weirdly I don’t like tomatoes or cheese but still like tomato sauce with pasta dishes, and cheesy flavoured snacks such as mini cheddars, cheese twists, Watsits, Quavers, cheese & onion flavoured crisps, and pesto.

-I cook Quorn quite a lot when making spaghetti bolognaise (Ragu sauce best!), cottage pie, chilli (con carne/quorni) and tacos.

-Soup! Covent Garden ones are best.

-baked goods and naughty stuff… cakes, bread, biscuits, waffles, crisps (salt & vinegar McCoys, prawn cocktail Walkers, any Pringles or Hula Hoops, Skips, and so on), pancakes, ice cream (chocolate preferably, such as Ben & Jerry’s brownie, also cookie dough, or sour flavours in summer such as lemon or sobets)

-Obviously a main meal needs some carbs, ones often found in my cupboards are… rice, noodles, fusilli, spaghetti (try to get wholemeal).

-Spreads: marmite, margarine/butter (thinly spread), honey, peanut butter, jams, chocolate spread.

-Breakfast in a bowl: Weetos, Choc Shreddies etc, porridge oats with honey, Frosties, Golden Grahams, Fruit Crisp, Fruit & Fibre.

– Falafel and homemade hummus with chili.

A little list of favourites from different countries and typical things I order when getting a take-away or at a restaurant:

–          Indian: poppadoms, Naan bread, japati, Bombay Aloo, onion bhaji, vegetable samosas, chicken or prawn curry up to about medium

–          Chinese: prawn crackers, vegetable spring rolls, satay dish, Chow Mein.

–          Thai: satay skewers, pad Thai.

–          Italian: risotto. Pizza without cheese haha. Panettone.

–          Greek: chicken souvlaki, baklava, Ouzo.

–          Spanish: paella, chorizo slices, sangria, Pa amb tomàquet/Pa amb oli, churro.

–          American: fajitas, burger and fries, BBQ stuff.

–          English: Cornish pasty, Full English fry ups and tea, Sunday roast, pies, gravy.

–          Portuguese: Nando’s

–          France: French Stick/bagette. Crossiants.