It means literally ‘ with mother-in-law’ they told me but I think they were just pulling my leg. They have an odd sense of humour once you leave Madrid behind, these rural people – they keep asking me what does a Scotsman wear under his kilt (‘keelt’ is how they pronounce it) and then laughing like drains. Yawn yawn. I’d hitched all the way from Aberdeen thanks to the efficacy of my Black Watch kilt (my grandfather’s actually) and I wasn’t prepared to have it lifted, innuendoed or scoffed at , so in reply I just made a hand gesture I’d been taught by my good friend Sergio which he said meant in Spanish, Please go away, you no longer amuse me.
It worked a treat.
Anyhow Consuegra is where I bought the small but costly packet of Azafran and was given the name of the man in London who would be waiting for it. It takes 2000 crocuses to make 1 gram of the stuff, I was told. Consuegra seemingly is the big centre for saffron. In summer they say the fields around the big white windmills (all 11 of them, 4 still working) are a heaving sea of vivid purple. Worth going there for that sight alone so they say. But more of that later.
When I got back to London I found my way easily enough to the Quixote Bar and Restaurante (opposite the Victoria Bus Station) which, as you might have guessed, was full of non-Spanish customers ordering very unSpanish tapas at very English prices. The barman, however, was from Galicia and when I asked to see his boss he told me that his very busy boss could not see me at the moment because his very powerful boss also ran a big 4 star hotel in Santiago de Compostela, Los Abetos, had I heard of it, una mina de oro, very successful, and his wonderful boss was fortunate enough to be there at this very moment.
Se crio en buenos panales.
At which point the small, bird-like woman next to me at the bar piped up to say to us both in Spanish that she had stayed at that very hotel and she and her husband had been impressed by its high standards. While the barman ignored us both, obsessively polishing and repolishing a wine glass, holding it up to the light either to admire his handiwork or to look for vestigial smear marks, I asked her where in Spain she was from. She laughed at this and said that actually she was from Stokesly actually, then lowering her voice, she told me that neither the owner nor the barman were to be trusted and that she
She never got round to finishing her long sentence. A woman from nowhere materialised at her side, grasped her arm, gave me a flashing smile and took the woman from Stokesly away.
Now by the strangest of coincidences, the Fiesta de la Rosa del Afrazan was
(to be continued)