Archive | June 2018

Name That Food

After ordering, I leaned back and looked around the Canadian café. It looked like the hundreds of American cafés my husband and I had visited through the years. A bell on the door jingled whenever someone came in. The pages of a local calendar on a nearby community board fluttered in the hot breeze coming from the sweltering street.

Arnie, the couple we were traveling with and I had ordered hamburgers and French fries.

Thelma and Gene had arrived at four this morning at our house to get an early start. We put off stopping for breakfast, opting for an early lunch instead. As the men began to talk about fishing, Thelma leaned forward and said, “It’s a good thing I put a big bag of ice in the cooler. As hot as it is today, the food we’re bringing would spoil before we reached the cabin.”

I nodded and hopefully suggested, “Maybe we can put everything in the cabin’s refrigerator while Arnie and Gene put the boats in the water. Then we can cool off by going out to fish this evening.”

Seeing our waitress step up to the kitchen transom where plates were waiting, I announced, “Here comes our food.” A few moments later I woefully stared down at the plate placed before me. All the lovely French fries next to the hamburger were wilting under a thick brown gravy.

In the late 1950’s, a province in Canada developed poutine, a dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy. Looking back, I don’t recall there being cheese curds. All I remember was soggy fries. Although I had been looking forward to crispy ones, I ate them anyway. Continue reading

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Call Me, “Your Highness”

Chilled from spending two hours in the shadowed Our Lady of the Pillar Basilica, I stepped into the sun-filled cobble-stoned market square. I wasn’t sure of the time, but my belly told me it was time to eat. A group of fellow pilgrims walked past Tammie and me. One of them motioned to us, “Come on, Juan is taking us to a restaurant where there’s a buffet for 14.95 euros.”

My daughter grumped, “There’ll be too much food at a buffet and I don’t want to pay that much for lunch.”

Not wanting to do what everyone else was doing, I confided, “I have to agree with you, Tammie. What would you rather do?”

Brightening up, she said, “Let’s go into the restaurant, but order food from the counter and eat it outside.” Food samples lined the counter for visitors. Tammie picked tortilla espanol; I ordered a basket of calamari and two skewers of large shrimp and olives topped with a creamy dressing.

We sat at a table in the shade and tucked into our generous servings. A cheeky sparrow landed near our feet and hunted for crumbs to eat. The shrimp and olives were fresh and delicious, but my big basket of calamari surprised me. I’d never had calamari before that didn’t have at least one rubber band running the length of each piece. I pointed that out to Tammie and concluded, “I guess that’s the difference between ordering calamari in Spain, rather than in Wisconsin.” Continue reading

The First Lady

I had joked with my daughter Tammie, on the bus about the next city we were visiting in Spain. Its name could be spelled either Zaragoza or Saragossa. I’d told her the second spelling made me think of the Harry Potter stories, commenting with a chuckle, “I can see Hermine in a Spells and Incantation class doing it right…giving her wand a pert flip and twitch and clearly enunciating, ‘Sara-goes-AH!’”

Our pilgrimage bus finally pulled to a stop and we filed off. A warm breeze playfully fluttered the name tag on the lanyard around my neck. Adjusting the travel purse on my shoulder, I glanced around, taking stock of where we were. My sense of direction told me we were on the north bank of Rio Ebro. Our pilgrimage visit for today was the Basilica de la Senora del Pilar. I saw the huge church on the south bank of the River Ebro. The numerous spires of the massive building were impressive.

Walking across the bridge, Tammie stopped mid-way to take a picture of the basilica. I stopped and waited, pondering its history, which extends back to just several years after the death of Jesus.

James, one of the twelve apostles who followed Jesus during His three years of public life. He, along with the other eleven men, had the Holy Spirit descend upon him at Pentecost. They all followed Jesus’ command to go out and, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The country James went to was Spain. Continue reading

Entering Iberia

In the hotel dining room, I surveyed the deluxe breakfast laid out for us, croissants, sweet rolls, several types of sausage, eggs, bacon, ham, cereal, fruit, juices, various cheeses and coffee. I felt hungry, but wondered if eating a hearty meal was wise.

Today we were leaving Lourdes and crossing the Pyrenees Mountains to enter Spain. I had been dreading this part of the trip, since I suffer from motion sickness. Would the zig-zag route through mountain passes trigger awful, potentially messy symptoms? Reaching up, I lightly touched the anti-nausea patch behind my left ear to reassure myself.

In the lobby, Juan, the owner and manager of Mater Dei pilgrimages commanded in a loud voice, “Before getting on the bus, make sure you see your luggage being loaded. I don’t want anyone missing their luggage when we arrive at our destination.” I spotted Tammie’s and my suitcases among the sea of other suitcases. Continue reading