Norwegian Food

Having enjoyed our own cooking for several days, we decided to treat ourselves to some Spanish food for a change. Nurturing thoughts of tapas, paella, gazpacho, chorizo sausage, serrano ham and the likes, our mouths had already begun to water when we began what was to be our quest. Previous trips to the small town of Alfaz, had mainly consisted of visits to the supermercado, but we had actually happened to have a glimpse behind the scenes, and noticed that there was more to it than the rather nondescript main street. Plazas and lots of eating places with actual Spanish people enjoying themselves had been observed, so we figured that finding a place should be piece of cake, so to speak.
The afore mentioned observer had not done a very thorough job though, passing cafés, bars and restaurants without actually looking at what was being served at the different establishments.  As it turns out, or at least that’s what it seems like up close at 8 pm in the evening, is that the Spanish’ staple food is comprised of cakes, biscuits, ice cream and coffee, and not much else. We walked from table to table and place to place, and that’s what we saw.
There were people however, who seemed to be enjoying something more substantial, in the line of dinner, but they were light skinned, most of them, as you might have conjectured, Norwegians.  And, according to posters and menus, they were enjoying meatballs, fish pudding, rømmegrøt (I doubt you non Norwegians reealy want to know what that is. There is a reason why we are looking for Spanish food, for Pete’s sake! ), salmon, Norwegian style, ham, Norwegian style, and lapskaus (a kind of “let’s see what leftovers we have from the past two weeks, aaah, a little piece of lamb, some carrots, potatoes, cod, a little smelly, but so what,  some dried out peas, a piece of birthday cake, a little herring, yess! Let’s have lapskaus!”.  Come to think of it, not even Norwegians  know where the word comes from or what I actually means. Go figure, some smartass lazy guy with Scottish genes made that one up, I’m sure. I could  go on, but I will have mercy on you and stop here.
Seeing the writing on the wall; this was not going to be easy, I resolved to do what I often do, ask one of the locals. I approached a guy standing on the side of the road, minding his own business and possibly enjoying watching the Norwegians across the street stuffing their faces with one bizarre dish after the other, and asked in English if he could help us out. He didn’t know much English, but was friendliness itself, so we struck up a pleasant, if not very meaningful conversation, I resorting to a few words I hoped were Spanish when I had to, and he using an extraordinarily rich repertoire of gestures. I was after some preliminary exercises able to convey to him that we did not want to eat Norwegian food. This he seemed to have no difficulties appreciating, but laughed and said that avoiding it could be a little hard as we after all happened to be smack in the middle of Little Norway. He considered for a moment and then pointed towards a place further down the street. I smiled and thanked him profoundly, at the same time signaling thumbs up to the two nice Germans in my company.
Entering the suggested place, we found it was totally void of people. We looked around, and after a while discovered a lady washing the floor in the adjoining room. Asking if we could have something to eat, she pointed in the general direction of a glass counter displaying a small array of food. Olives, peppers, squids, some kind of sausage, red meat and fowl of some sorts, were laid out, alongside a very worn and very dirty looking dish cloth. It was Spanish all right, we had no reason to complain about that, but there was something about the dish cloth, and the arrangement of it all, that turned us a little off.  The fact that there was not a soul in sight, could be explained by the early hour of the night, but there could also be other reasons. We looked at each other and decided, even though by now we were starving, had the dish cloth looked more appealing we would have been drooling, to try out other options. We started walking down the street looking for someone else to ask, when my phone rang. Concentrating on the person on the other end of the line, I did not notice that one of my German friends had entered an office, asking for advice on where to eat. As I hung up, he came out, looking a little puzzled. The people he’d just talked to had not been very helpful, nor exactly forthcoming. Actually, they had ended up speaking to him pretty rudely. And he had just done what I had done; asked for directions to a place where they served, he had even relented on the demands, anything but Norwegian food. That’s when I looked up and saw the sign over the door: “Norwegian tours”. The poor guy, speaking English with a eloquent, but distinctly German accent, had wandered in, addressed the Norwegian employees and, obviously, but totally unintentionally, insulting them on their own territory. What a way to go!
I laughed so hard I could hardly walk, and dragged him and his wife away from the scene of the crime. We almost bumped into the owner of a fruit store, and figuring his suggestion would be as sound as anyone’s asked him if he could direct us to a Spanish restaurant. He pointed 200 meters down the street, and there was Ta Casa, as emerging out of nowhere, quite big, yet cozy, with friendly staff, and really good Spanish cuisine. The rest is history, a temporarily full stomach and a happy palate that will treasure the memories of the good tastes it was served.
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