100 Places in Spain Every Woman Should Go

Patricia Harris

“Patricia Harris began her love affair with Spain shortly after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, and she has since witnessed the country’s amazing renaissance in art, culture, and cuisine. Drawing on three decades of intimate acquaintance, she leads readers down to the docks of fishing villages, along twisting mountain roads, into the shoe outlets of Elche, out to the muddy saffron fields of La Mancha. She takes you through the streets of Sevilla, Madrid, Barcelona, and San Sebastian to dark flamenco clubs, sybaritic public baths, endlessly inventive tapas bars, design shops full of mantillas and fans, and into a brightly tiled chocolatería for hot chocolate and churros at 3 a.m.

Harris explores art from Velázquez to Picasso, architecture from the phantasmagoria of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia to the cool suspension spans of Santiago Calatrava. She tells tales of formidable Spanish women, from a fourth-century b.c. goddess to a queen who wrested Spain from the Moors, and to twenty-first-century winemakers who have elevated Spain’s Toro and Rueda onto the world stage. Literary, sexy, whimsical, and spiritual, 100 Places in Spain Every Woman Should Go is for the smart and curious traveler who wants to see Spain, her way.”

Sample chapter (www.travelerstales.com):

“Chapter 3
Choc Around the Clock
Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid

Chocolatería San Ginés just might be the most reassuring place in Madrid. It’s open around the clock every day of the year. Whenever you walk in, waitstaff in white jackets with high collars are pouring pitchers of hot chocolate into white cups lined up in a row on the bar. All the handles face the same way.

The Spaniards took to chocolate as soon as Hernán Cortez brought the Aztec drink back when he conquered Tenochtitlán, renamed it Mexico City, and made off with everything he could ship home—cacao beans included. The Aztecs ground the beans to a paste and made a bitter drink they called xocolatl. Back at home the Spaniards combined cacao paste with sugar (introduced by the Moors) and thickened the hot liquid with flour (introduced by the Romans). The drink encapsulates the history of Spain in a cup.

Spanish hot chocolate is a thick, rich revelation, and the version at San Ginés seems even thicker and richer than most. It is a soothing balm at every hour. Office workers stop at the chocolatería for breakfast on their way to work; shoppers laden with bags find San Ginés the perfect venue for a merienda, or afternoon snack; and nightowls stumble in after leaving the clubs in the madrugada, or the hours just before sunrise. Spaniards did not need twentieth-century scientific studies to tell them that chocolate is a so-called “joy stimulant,” and that those who sip chocolate daily are calmer and more content than the misguided souls who deny themselves.

San Ginés sits up an alleyway, the Pasadizo de San Ginés, next to the discotheque Sala Joy Eslava, the most recent occupant of a cavernous nineteenth-century theater building. The little chocolatería is halfway between the Puerta del Sol and the Teatro Real. When it opened in 1894, it was an immediate hit with the after-theater crowd.

The interior does not seem to have changed since Ramón del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936) immortalized it as the Buñolería Modernista in his 1924 play, Luces de Bohemia. A dogleg bar lines two walls at the entry and green banquettes line the others. Black bentwood chairs cozy up to small, marble-topped tables. Wood panels painted a deep forest green rise halfway up the walls and large mirrors bounce the light around to make the room seem bigger than it is. Black-and-white photos chronicle the celebrities who have made their way down the atmospheric alley over the years.

Each table is topped with a shaker of powdered sugar. Another reassuring thing about San Ginés is that you don’t have to make many decisions. The proper accompaniment to hot chocolate are churros. These ridged sticks of fried dough are extruded in a spiral of a yard or more into hot fat. They’re cut into pieces six to nine inches long after they’re cooked. Often served at fairs and beach snack bars, the casual treats acquire a certain decorum in the elegant chocolatería. Thicker tubes of fried dough, called porras, are the only other option. In either case, they should be liberally dusted with sugar before being dunked in the chocolate. It’s impossible to get the last of the chocolate from the cup without mopping the bottom with a churro.

San Ginés is one of the few remaining traditional chocolaterías in Madrid. Many bars and cafés serve hot chocolate and churros in the morning and again at tapas time. But few places make their own churros, preferring the convenience of reheating some that they buy from a small factory. A reheated churro is definitely heavier and tastes more of oil than dough. And I’ve even seen baristas tear open packets of instant chocolate to make a muddy imitation of the rich, hauntingly spiced drink served at San Ginés. Take the polyphenol joy cited in the research on the benefits of chocolate, and multiply it times three. This is a chocolatería that’s good for your health, and even better for your state of mind.”





Travelers' Tales




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Artikelnummer: 5342 Categorie:
Talen Engels
Landen Spanje


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