Tag Archives: new friends

Nepalese Night

17 May
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Homemade delicious naan

The opportunity to eat Nepalese food for the first time came unexpectedly. After finishing cleaning my piso (apartment), Reetu, invited me to her home that evening for homemade Nepalese food. She inquired as to whether I liked Nepalese food and what time I usually ate dinner. Although I am an adventurous eater when it comes to world cuisines, I had never tried food from Nepal, simply because we did not have any restaurants with that cuisine in the Central Coast of California where I lived. Truth be told, I could have sought out such food in my travels but I had a very bad experience with curry the first time I tried it, and have been put off by the smell of many curries ever since. So with the invitation, I thought I should live by my food motto, “I’ll try anything twice,” (except raw sea urchin.)

 

Reetu has a lovely countenance and I was particularly warmed by this generous invitation, given the difficulties she, her husband, and their male cousin, were having obtaining employment here in Altea, Spain. Usually I eat a late lunch and no dinner, but on this occasion I waited for the appointed dinner time. Her nine year-old daughter came to escort me to their place which is only a couple minutes’ walk.

 

After introductions to the two men, we spoke of a number of topics, including the recent devastating earthquakes in Nepal. In Nepal, they lived a short distance outside Katmandu, but owing to the conditions of the road, it took several hours to get to the capital city. Of course, their families were impacted by the earthquakes, with Reetu’s father-in-law taking ill and losing their family home.

 

By then it was time to eat. The first course was momo, a stuffed pleated dumpling, accompanied by a tomato curry sauce. They were delicious and I had no issue with my curry phobia. I thought that was the meal, but there were two more courses to come. Next was chicken which had been marinated in yogurt, tomatoes, onions, garlic/ginger paste, cumin and coriander, and then cooked. It was served with homemade naan, which was very similar to homemade flour tortillas I got in California and Mexico. They use the naan, like Mexicans and those in the know do with tortillas, by tearing off a small piece and picking up a piece of chicken with it. The last course was aromatic basmati rice, something I regularly make.

 

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Nepali chicken and naan

As we dined, the family spoke with gratitude about the generous assistance of the Americans in Nepal’s disaster recovery. They also talked with pride about the character of the Nepalese who are kind, hard-working people. Both men are talented chefs, but with Spain’s high unemployment rate and seasonality of restaurant work, it has been difficult for them to find consistent employment. All four had excellent English, and when I asked, they confirmed that they are taught both Nepalese and English from an early age.

 

As I took my leave, I thanked them for the delicious meal and invitation into their home. Reetu’s daughter likes dogs, including my dog Pepper, so I invited her to come with her mother next time she comes to my house so she could play with the dog. I don’t really need a housekeeper, as I am single and retired, but I am glad to have Reetu.

 

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Tails from Altea Spain

13 Apr
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Check out my different colored eyes

So I finally get to offer my observations on this move to and life in Altea, Spain. I might add that I was promised I could put my two-cents in some time ago, but it has been several years before this has come to fruition.

It was confusing with all of the moves I have had to endure, first my original owner, Robbie (son of my current owner) abandoned me to pursue a career as a chef. Besides the lengthy hours he worked, he also apparently felt compelled to spend considerable time doing cross-fit and training for competition weight lifting. I am still not thrilled about this abandonment, but apparently it paid off for him as he received many favorable reviews in such publications as the LA Times, LA Magazine, Zagat, with Belcampo being one of ten top best new restaurants in 2014 by Bon Appetit Magazine as part of Downtown Central Market in Los Angeles. I got to go to his restaurant twice. Even though they don’t allow dogs, I pretended I was a service dog. I was so excited to see him! Then I was whisked off again by my new owner/mama for more changes.

This is me in mama's car before we moved to Spain

This is me in mama’s car before we moved to Spain

We ended up living in a place very different than where we lived on the Central Coast of California. The people here speak a different language, but I have learned about ten words in Spanish, such as ven (come,) muevete (move,) siéntate (sit,) and Pimienta (the translation of my name Pepper.) Many people greet me by name here; I am way more popular than my mama. People are intrigued by my two different color eyes: azul (blue) and marron (brown), and my dapple color. They also are amused when I sit up on my hind legs; they think I look like a Meer cat.

She takes me almost everywhere except when she puts on those black clothes and tells me she is going to Zumba and will be back soon. It feels like forever, especially after the uncertainty all of the changes have given me. When she goes out for a meal, I patiently (usually) sit under the table waiting for my reward from what she ate. Yum!

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Daniel and me at his 40th birthday party at Altearte

Like her, I am becoming more social. I now excitedly great her friends, sometimes surprising her and them with my new enthusiastic attempts at kissing them, as opposed to my prior indifference. I enjoy our longs walks every day, usually at least one down to the beach, and the other to the top of the hill where the iconic church is (but we are not attending church.) However, we have fun with our friends in the evening. One of our good friends, Daniel (a native of Norway) celebrated his 40th birthday at one of our local favorite bars, Altearte.

Yesterday, we met up with my new dog friend, Pogo, and his parents, Karen and Barry who recently moved here from Costa Rica (although they are originally from Canada.) We had an outdoor lunch with them and mama’s friend originally from nearby Valencia, Nina. Then we went to the neighboring town, Albir, which has the second highest population of Norwegians, after Norway, so Nina could deliver a birthday gift to a girlfriend. En route, she saw a friend, a former talented sculptor of wood, who sadly suffered a stroke and can’t do his art or speak anymore, but my owner thought the sparkle in his eyes over a drink revealed a glimpse of his former charisma and talent. The owner of the Los Angeles café, also a friend of Nina, presented them with a colorful plate of tapas. After they were done, “claro,” (“of course,” in Spanish), I got my just desserts or should I say tapas. (And, yes, my mama knows the phrase was originally just deserts.)IMG_0840

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Rafa at Club Cuba in Albir for Sunday evening salsa

It was already after the start of Sunday Cuba salsa dancing in Albir, and mama wanted to show the place to Nina. So that is where she goes when she leaves me on Sunday evening. When Rafa was initially playing some low key music, Nina loudly requested Cuban music, and he obliged. The only trouble was that they kept leaving me under the table alone so they could go dance. I guess it was better than being home alone. Then Nina drove us home where we went directly to bed after a fun- and wine-filled day. I burrow per my dachshund heritage, although I find it a little more challenging to sleep here due to traffic and people who talk way louder than I am used to.

It is quiet now during the three to four hour siesta, so I am going to take advantage of this time for a nap, before going for my evening routine of incessant ball chasing; I am ready for her to repeatedly tell me, “Dáme la pelota” (Give me the ball.) All in all, I like it pretty well here, which is good since my original owner, Robbie, is now going to be very busy at his new job at Saison, one of only four three star Michelin star restaurants in San Francisco. I just hope he and his brother Michael visit soon; here they are enjoying themselves in Belize with their brother Spencer and mama while I was left at Canterbury Tails doggie hotel. At least, Spencer will be visiting me next month.20150116_134409