Today we had a fantastic market and tapas tour with the ever brilliant Sevilla Tapas, Shawn as she's generally known to her face, or Queen of Tapas according to The Times (they're not wrong). She'll guide you around the city and the food of Andalusia, easing you in gently with a plate of jamon then before you know it BAM! you're eating...well, we'll get to that.
We begin at la Plaza Encarnación with a breakfast of churros and chocolate at the Centurian Cafe - named after its proximity to and part in the annual Easter hoo-har (I hear they're big into their religious stuff over here). We had media rations today, and will be back for full portions tomorrow - even my mum finished hers, approximately the twelfth meal I have seen her eat in its entirety (clearly, I take after my dad).
|See those shadows? They are caused by SUNLIGHT. Oh, how lovely.|
|To prepare a lamb head one simply pulls the jaw apart, CRACK!, wiggles out and slices off the tongue, lops off the top of the skull Indiana Jones-style and plucks out the delicate squishy little think-sponge. Yum.|
It's the fish counters by which I'm most impressed; big prawns, little squid, lots of fish - all at pretty fantastic prices too. They have the GIANT RED PRAWNS London types lust after at the moment, and at €72/kg it's heartening to note we're not actually paying over the odds in the UK, despite the GRP's Spanish origin. My parents and I do the appropriate face one should pull on viewing large vat of live, escaping snails ("it's the season!" exclaims Shawn) and we go on our merry way to hunt for jamon, queso, jerez etc (down with the locals, me).
We arrive at a stall thoroughly bedecked in bits of cured pig, where scores of locals are hanging about waiting for their jamon to be hand-sliced by one of a number of wiry Spanish blokes. Cunningly, Shawn has called ahead and pre-ordered to avoid the half-hour wait for such artisanal service, however the wiry Spanish bloke in question thought we were coming tomorrow, and has subsequently prepared bugger all. Unfazed, he continues slicing for the lady he's serving, and only Shawn notices that he's utilised a 'one for you, one for the-pre-order-that-I-didn't-prepare' distribution method. A quiet genius, that man. We pay, we go buy cheese.
Shawn is your divining rod for all that is delicious in Sevilla, offering food tours and guidance for a nominal fee. As such, she's treated well by those to whom she brings custom, and she has a deal with the bloke who runs the market cafe that means we can eat some of our market spoils while paying for his booze and olives. Shawn deposits us at a table and goes up to get the drinks, returning not just with booze and olives, but with a bowl of aforementioned caracoles - yep, sensing my burning curiosity, she's brought me some tiny snails.
|Diminutive - that there's a teaspoon|
The only snails I've had before were the typically French variety - big, boiled and covered in garlic butter. I found them a bit chewy and, well, odd - more an excuse for garlic butter than a delicacy in their own right, and I need nothing more than bread or mushrooms as an excuse for garlic butter. These little buggers are teensy in comparison to their French cousins and prepared simply by boiling in a salty court bouillon. As delicate as a well-cooked mussel and fairly similar in taste too - they're delicious, an adventure taken and won.
|Me: scared. Mum: gleeful at the prospect of me being scared.|
|Oh sweet lord. How happy this made me.|
|Pretty bags of beans|
|State of the art glass chilling system|
|GAMBAS. These were fantastic.|
|Battered and deep fried. Obviously.|
We leave with my own idea of the holy scripture, the rules by which we shall live our (short) time in Seville: Shawn's restaurant recommendations. Salud!
ADDENDUM: my mother feels extremely hard done by in my rash assumption that she was asleep. She was, in fact, ferociously busy with her Facebook, email and "Twitters".