Sunday, February 22, 2015

HvS KIDS: Feb. 22 - Olga Marlin and Her Pamplona Family

Celebrating Olga's return to good health, and her 80th birthday, at La Olla
Restaurant, Plaza de Toros, Pamplona. Photos by JT Marlin or (when
he's in pic) La Olla staff. 
PAMPLONA, Navarre, Spain - From Bilbao it was a two-hour bus ride to Pamplona to visit with Olga, after having visited with the other three sisters last week.

Today I went out with Olga and three of her Pamplona Family to a restaurant near the Plaza de Toros.

Most good restaurants seem to close in Pamplona on Sunday evening. So Eduardo Lopez at the desk of the Albret Hotel where I am staying suggested two restaurants that were open - La Olla ("Saucepan") and Casa Luis.

Someone in the know said both restaurants are good but La Olla is better, so that settled it. That's where we all went. We were all very pleased with the food and the restaurant set us up nicely in an alcove on the lower floor.

Olga and I have the Ajoarriero con Gambas in front of us.
I had a vegetarian starter (Panache de Verduras) and an Ajoarriero con Gambas. Gambas are prawns. Apparently the main course I happened to select is what the toreros (bullfighters) at the Plaza de Toros eat before the bullfight and what some people bring with them between pieces of bread to sustain them during an afternoon of bull-fighting.

If you aren't aware of how much bullfighting means to many Spaniards a short video of Torero sung by Chayanne - with no ads (!) - might help you. The difference between them is:
  • In the video the guy gets the girl, and takes off, making food for thought.
  • Bullfights traditionally end with the torero killing the bull, and tapas bars grilling the beef. 
The Torero video has been viewed so far by 22.6 million people. Another version of the video shows what appears to be 50,000 people dancing to the song in a square in Spain.

The Running of the Bulls doesn't start until July 7, during the Feast of San Fermin (July 6-14), around which Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises. It is the most famous fiesta in Spain. One million people come to Pamplona every year for the celebration. San Fermin was a martyr and the first Bishop of Pamplona in the fourth century AD. One story about San Fermin is that he was beheaded in Amiens, France; another is that he was dragged through the streets chased by bulls, hence the Running of the Bulls.

Bulls and bullfighting is a central to the Pamplona brand as the more recently acquired Guggenheim Museum is to Bilbao. Pamplona's fiesta reportedly brings in one million visitors in a two-week period - Bilbao's museum brings in half a million during a year.

Bullfights have been outlawed in Catalonia, where Ferdinand the Bull would be the more important textual reference; that book was commissioned by May Massee, the same editor that Hilda van Stockum had at Viking Press.

Meanwhile, here's the recipe for the Ajoarriero con Gambas, posted online by Bruno Oteiza.
The ajoarriero is a traditional recipe from Navarre cuisine, built around flaked cod and potatoes, peppers and a spicy chili. Ingredients for 4 people: 1 kg of salt cod crumbled, 20 prawns, 3 large potatoes, 2 green peppers, 1 large onion, 6 garlic cloves, 1 tip chili, 4-5 chilis in vinegar, 250 ml of fish broth, 200 ml tomato sauce, olive oil, salt, chopped parsley, chives, bread for sandwiches. Chop the garlic and put in a wide, low pan with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of pepper. When the garlic begins to brown, add the onion and chopped green peppers. Let it all poach well. Peel and dice the potatoes, and add to a casserole. Season and add a little chopped parsley. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir in crumbled cod and stir well. Pour in the broth and tomato sauce and mix well. Wiggle the pan occasionally. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add seasoned shrimp and cook a few more minutes. Sprinkle with a little parsley and put on plate with a little oil on top. Garnish with chives. You can use the leftovers to make a sandwich filling, adding chopped chilis in vinegar.
Olga went to Pamplona originally because of a bone marrow disease that hospitals in Nairobi were not as able to monitor and ameliorate as the Navarre Clinic, which is a widely respected hospital in this part of Spain.

The doctor who has been monitoring her progress over four years has declared Olga back to normal, which is a huge cause for celebration. He told her: "Come back for a check-up in three months, if you feel the need." Olga also passed her 80th birthday three months ago - another cause for celebration.

Her course of treatment has taken four years, during which time she has developed a Pamplona family to match her biological family, then her Dublin family and then - for more than 50 years - her Nairobi family.

Olga is working on a biography of the two parents of a long-time friend. She wants to use her regained health to finish the book, and then she is considering what she might propose to do next to be of service to the world. She is teaching short courses - for example, in anthropology. She has lived in so many countries, she is well-placed to write about what she has learned about differences in cultures in countries on three Continents.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to visit the University of Navarre.

No comments:

Post a Comment