20 October 2007


Hi friends! I'm back from Barcelona and able now to think about something other than food. Really, while I was there, I thought of little else. Every day I would wake up and think excitedly, What shall I eat today?! Then after breakfast I would start thinking, What can we eat next?!

We really did have some amazing food, including an indecently big lunch at one place, Passadis del Pep (no sign, off a plaza, down a blind passageway next to an ATM, never find it again), where we had about a nine-course meal which included a mountain of fingernail-sized clams, baby whelks in rock salt, several kinds of shrimp, and an incredible raisin-studded pudding with a crème brulée top. Even the parsley was somehow the best parsley ever. Another night I had a lovely falling-down-drunk cake, and another place we had some really memorable fried chiles in salt. We had patatas bravas, giant fries with chile and aioli, every chance we got. And more... Oh! You must go. Because it is very nice to get up in the morning, have a delicious coffee and a roll, then start planning lunch whilst strolling and people-watching (and ogling the unbelievable mullets, yes, mullets! on the women), then take hours to eat lunch and then walk it off and ogle more (the open-air budgie market, the red-light district one block from the main drag, the Roman fortifications, the extremely Ferdinand-like narrow little passageways) til you find a likely spot for dinner. Very nice indeed.

Another really nice thing to do in Barcelona is meet knitters. Barcelona Knits gets together on Monday nights near the Plaça Catalunya, which is a little like the Times Square of Barcelona - the kind of place where, sooner or later, everyone you’ve ever known will pass by.

From left, Elena, a really nice girl from the south of Spain, a lovely Argentine girl whose name I forget but who brought some fantastic dulce de leche her mother had sent from Argentina to accompany the announcement of her ¡engagement! (hooray! congratulations!), me, the extremely sweet Paulina, aka Debolsillo (or “pocket-sized”), from Mexico, author of the blog La República de Mi Casa and the podcast En Punto, you know what, these lasses were all very lovely, Trini, Nuria (a beautiful name, don’t you think? and very common in Catalunya), some folks who came in later who you can’t see, and on the right, Danielle, aka laracroft, who also had a wonderful announcement, which is that her crocheted fair-isle socks (yes, crochet fair isle!) will be published in Interweave Crochet in the spring. I struggled along in Spanish; their English was much better. (No progress on Moth. Stitch count horribly off.)

The Sagrada Familia is the thing I have most and longest wanted to see. It did not disappoint. The two main facades outside are staggering; the Nativity side is a very rococo, frothy, excitable sand-castle thing; the Passion side is weighty, blocky, blunt, and very affecting. But they are nothing to the inside. I burst into tears upon entering, which I quickly covered up, because it is so crowded. The scale is unbelievable. The few windows that are done are exquisite; the picture doesn’t convey the subtlety of the colors at all. The columns are of all different kinds of stone and different colors; some come from as far away as Iran. A very powerful experience.

Joe and I also visited the very sweet little knitting shop Persones Llanes (“yarn people” in Catalan) in, appropriately, Plaça de la Llana. Like Paulina, it is pocket-sized and very charming. Their slogan is “all you knit is love.” Barcelona, as I mentioned, is about eating, not buying wool, but I did get some Nepalese cotton for a market bag. (Show you later - it’s plain and simple and very pleasing.)

The wool above is the only Spanish wool they can get to sell at Persones Llanes. It’s used for rug-weaving, so it comes in these long skeins - it’s yarn and a shuttle, all in one.

And here is some absolutely luscious soap from a little hole-in-the-wall soapmaker’s in the Barri Gótic. I didn’t buy enough the first time, and when I went back I couldn’t find the passageway again. (That’s a little Icelandic-honeymoon lava keeping it company. It’s nicer to get your pumice off the beach than at the druggist.)

And this was a really nice fellow who took me to Barcelona with him. Thank you, Joe. I adore you.


NJStacie said...

So beautiful! It looks like you had a wonderful time, Max - thank you for sharing!

Deborah said...

when i visited spain 18 years ago I was too uptight to visit any knitting places. I did visit a few farms and picked my own food to prepare but no really fun stuff. I did, however, manage to get pregnant on that trip. To this day, I'm not quite sure how that happened??

Alayne said...

YAY Barcelona. What a great post. I love that picture of Joe at the end...

debolsillo said...

Thank you so much! I hope some day we can visit you :)