A friend of many years past, called John, came to mind the other day while I was stirring the cauldron in which I make my Sangria. Not unlike Willy Shakespeare's Witches, 'hubble-ing' and 'bubble-ing' (Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3), except I do it all on my lonesome, rarely cackle, and do it all in a decorously masculine way!
John and his wife were holidaying in northern Spain not too far from where I was pitched on a caravan site. They chose to visit us one day and were treated to a slap-up meal, a curry supper à la Hyacinth Bucket, a typically Dutch dish from the couple on the terrace below, and a spaghetti concoction from the two Italian student-doctors from the same level as the Dutch. I provided the Sangria which, in Spain, is akin to 'taking coals to Newcastle'. John polished off a couple of glasses without them touching the sides and declared the Sangria a winner. Better than the tepid beer alternative. His wife knocked back a couple of glasses in a similar fashion. I decided to 'warn' against the driver consuming any more, and was informed that she had drawn the short straw so it was OK for John to continue - said John!
The evening was a delight, duly lubricated by several rounds of the nectar-like Sangria. It even included an impromptu demonstration by the two Italian boys on how to cook spaghetti. The demo included a testing phase where one of them dipped his fingers into the pan of water and removed a couple of strands of spaghetti and threw them at the bare chest of the other. If they stuck, the spaghetti was cooked. After each failed attempt the strands of spaghetti were retrieved from wherever they fell and returned to the pot to continue boiling. Don't try this one at home, especially in a confined kitchen space!
Like all good things the evening had to come to an end.
Around midnight our non-camper guests said their rather raucous and unintelligible goodbyes, poured themselves into the car, aimed it at the entrance gates of the camp-site, which fortunately were the exit gates as well, intending to join the motorway that would take them home.
Many months later I ran into John whilst we were attending a 3-day military seminar run by the RAF. It was 'attendance-only' and there was no pressure on either of us to complete course work and the like. John, on one of our several sessions in the bar, recounted the saga of the journey home after that night on the Sangria. It was apparently indelibly etched into his subconscious, and to emphasise the fact he declared that he had never touched a drop of Sangria since that evening!
Mrs John (to save a blush or two), a strong-willed woman at the best of times, had chosen to ignore my advice about the driver not drinking any more of my lethal brew. She had apparently quaffed several glasses whilst my back was turned. She could still see, barely, to keep the car on the road, but Spanish road signs were her downfall. She made it to the motorway, but opted to go in the opposite direction. John recalled that he indulged in some feeble defiance, but was too far gone to care. Eventually the penny dropped, about the time they had to pull off the motorway to spend one, and then they tried to decipher the road map that they carried for just such emergencies. The fanfolds defeated the pair of them!
The epic, as narrated by John, was long and eventful, filled with descriptions of inebriated attempts to speak Spanish (neither of them could speak the language when sober), attempting to get directions so that they could start travelling north instead of continuing further south. To cut to the chase - they eventually made it home in one piece. Lucky them!
John was asked to open the gate to the walled compound so that Mrs John could drive the car to safety. That task apparently defeated him too. So she abandoned the car where she had stopped it, and as far as she was concerned that is where it was going to spend the night. It did. Safely. They managed to stagger up a couple of flights of steps to their fancy apartment and Mrs John decided her day was done. Fully clothed she spread-eagled herself, comatose, across both sides of the bed. John's defiance still hadn't reached the stages of rebellion so he curled up in a ball in front of the built-in wardrobe, also fully clothed, and quickly reached the state of euphoria his wife was enjoying.
About four thirty in the morning John decided that he really needed to go out for a slow walk, down to the seafront and back, to combat the moving ceiling that kept creeping up on his unconscious state. I could sympathise; been there, seen it, done it. And that damn ceiling always seems to move in a circular motion!
John recollected that as he staggered to the sea front, his legs refusing to do what his addled brain was telling them to, that if somebody had been looking for an ambassador to represent the drunken Brit abroad, he was waaaaay out in front as the most qualified candidate.
All because of something that looks as innocuous and inviting as this ...
I intend to put up the recipe, somewhere, blow by blow, if a few of you want to try it out. It takes about 5 minutes to make, and even less to drink it.
Update: Recipe-hunters click here (opens in a new window). Enjoy!
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