Postcard from Andalucía: Can’t cook. Won’t cook.

By Glossy Magazine

Postcard from Andalucía

Postcard from Andalucía: Can’t cook. Won’t cook.

Postcard from Andalucía

Confession time… I don’t know how to cook. A shameful truth that is not going down well here in rural Andalucia. My old nickname, la extraña dama inglesa – the strange English lady – is back.

Now, dear reader, you know how much I love growing my own food. I spend most days in my huerto (allotment) working, watering, weeding, up to my eyes in muck. Veggies, fruit, herbs – you name it, I can grow it. I just don’t know what to do with it all. Which is where Lord Muck comes in. He loves to cook. Or, rather, he has to cook; otherwise, we would starve.

To be fair, at the beginning of our relationship, I did try to cook. But it never ended well. On our first Christmas together, I forgot to take the bag of giblets out of the turkey. On our first New Year, I forgot to remove the polystyrene bases from the pizzas. And Lord Muck’s all-time favourite, on our first Valentine’s Day, I forgot to gut and de-scale the fish! Thankfully, it was his Lordship who took the first bite. Yum. So, after 30 years together, we have found a way that works for us: I grow stuff, he cooks it.  

But here in Spain, our older, more traditional Andalucian neighbours seem utterly bemused by our situation. For them, the house is the señorita’s domain, and the outside is the señor’s. Take last month for example, we were invited to our new neighbours, Antonia and Jose’s, casa for dinner. Antonia had clearly been cooking all day – the smells as we walked up their track were mouth-watering. To start, homegrown aubergines fried with honey; then Ajo Blanco, a cold soup made with almonds, olive oil, garlic, bread and vinegar; followed by a seafood paella to die for. All accompanied by Jose’s favourite Verdejo wine. All was going swimmingly well until Antonia started asking questions. What dishes did I like cooking? Could I share my recipes? Did I love sewing? What about lace-making? Was I a morning cleaner or after sunset? Did I have a favourite biscuit recipe? Did I use a steam iron or a presser? Oh. Dear. God.

After much snorting from Lord Muck, sitting alongside me in his un-ironed shirt, I ummed and arred, squirmed and explained that cooking and cleaning weren’t really my forte. Well… I might as well have confessed to a triple murder. Antonia looked at me in horror. Jose looked at my husband with pity. I looked at my feet. Lord Muck laughed.

Thankfully at that moment, Antonia and Jose’s 22-year-old granddaughter, Casandra, arrived home from university and was able to act as a generational mediator. So much so that Antonia became rather intrigued by my life choices, which is how, later that night, fuelled by vast quantities of Verdejo, three generations of women, wandered off to my huerto and spent a wonderful couple of hours under the stars, realising we had much to learn from one another. Antonia will spend time with me learning how to grow stuff. I will spend time with Antonia learning how to cook. And Casandra wants to learn from both of us. Lovely. 

Right, must dash. The pallet load of survival rations that Lord Muck ordered when he heard I was learning to cook has just arrived…

Postcards from Andalucía, Lady Muck Style

By Catherine Saunders   

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