07 September 2008

Andorran Vignette

The lunchtime sun shines off the mountainside into the river valley and I pause in front of a restaurant jostled between duty-free electronics stores. I consider the menu taped to the stucco as the restauranteur approaches. "Come in! Eat! Its good." I sit down. "¿Hablas español?" "–Sí, sí" I respond as Mr Moustache hands me a menu, written entirely in Catalan. Some recognisable, but what is "Botifarra amb mongetes"? "Xipiros"? "Espatlla de xai lostadas"?

Fourty seconds of bewildered menu searching later, Mr Moustache returns. "Are you ready to order?"
—"No. This menu is Catalan, not Spanish."
—"It's the same thing!" Shakes his head, and walks away –presumably to get a new menu. However, he does not return, affronted by my horrible linguistic faux-pas.

The sun blazes through the azur and shadows make pavid slants. I realise I will never know what "xipiros" are. I walk across the street to the welcoming arms of a picture menu, happy for the glossy, unjudgemental embrace of its laminated photographs.


robert bailey said...

Lol! You've captured the exact essence of the Andorran dining experience.

Were the photos in the next place genuine, sun-bleached, laminated photos of actual food taken sometime in the late 80s and then hung up on the inside of the front window slowly to cure and ripen in the smoke-dense atmosphere? That's the sort of restaurant Andorra specialises in. It's so convenient; all you have to do is point and grunt.

Tokyo Tintin said...

The photos were indeed nicotine-stained, over-exposed polaroid enlargements of the latest trends in Andorran cuisine circa 1982.

The second place was not bad actually; some pretty fine sangria that they forgot to charge me for. Sweet! What could be better than free booze?

Watch out Tuvalu – Andorra's my new favourite microstate!

Lisa said...

better than free booze, but just barely: your blog post is the first hit that comes up when "xipiros" is googled. now nobody will ever know what they are.