Phlegmatic or Pragmatic? Ivor's Observations about Catalan People
Occassionally we come across things we really like and this article below is one of them! Taken from the writer Ivor Thomas's blog, we found his perpective of Catalunya, restaurants and it's people hilariously funny and a good read. Put your feet up, grab your cup of coffe and enjoy the read.
The Catalan people and their capital city, Barcelona, are total opposites. Barcelona is a raunchy and exuberant city with ornate, flamboyant architecture and a dynamic street life. Yet the Catalans are pragmatic, not to say phlegmatic, reserved and inward-looking.
Take a typical restaurant experience. You’ll be greeted with: “Digame!” - speak to me! Often they abbreviate even that to just “Diga!” – speak. This parsimonious attitude to charm does not mean they are rude, but they can be abrupt, and their concept of service has borrowed nothing from the American, have-a-nice-day style of customer treatment.
So you’ve been shown to your table and handed a menu written entirely in Catalan. Before your bum has warmed the chair a waiter is standing over you with a notebook and pencil. To give you time to decipher the menu he brings you a carafe of vino de la casa – the house plonk. Only here it’s a trick carafe called a porron which the Catalans invented specifically to ruin a tourist’s lunch.
The porron is a flat-bottomed bulb with a long neck. Sticking out of the bulb is a spout in the shape of an elongated teardrop which comes to a narrow point. Like most suckers, I assumed the spout was there for the purpose of pouring the wine. A messy mistake.
As I was busy mopping up I saw the bloke at the next table using the thing as it was intended, like a wine-skin. You start with the spout close to your mouth and gradually draw it away until you have reached a sufficiently ostentatious distance, then you reverse the movement. The experts do it with the mouth barely open in the form of a smug smile, leaving a mere slit for a target.
This is a men-only sport, by the way, and illustrates both the pragmatic and the phlegmatic in Catalan attitude. Pragmatic: why bother with a glass. And phlegmatic: the operation is performed with no more fanfare than the picking of teeth, even though misfiring would devastate an hombre’s ego.
In the meantime, following another pragmatic Catalan practice, you will put aside your knife and fork from the Primero to use for the Segundo.
See what I mean about pragmatic?
The Catalans’ lack of frills and lack of flourish, if anything, can make them appear to lack vitality and zest and humour which is in direct contrast to the high energy of their treasured capital, the emblem of their identity, with its lusty vibe and sensual, hot-summer atmos, and its organic, near-pornographic architecture.
Ironically, Antoni Gaudí was a walking example of this Catalan contradiction: the maestro of the ornamental overstatement ended up a religious ascetic whose idea of lunch was probably rice and beans. Tangerines and other such gastronomic imagery were saved for his architecture which is choked with organic and erotic motifs, cornucopias of the artist’s repressed sexual appetite.
To read this article and more visit Ivor Thomas's Blog at http://ivorthomas.org/blog/