I had one request for my first meal in a restaurant: that it be outside.
The food was secondary. Cheap was a boon because well you know, you’ve lived it. The point is to see my friend. Whom I hadn’t been able to see for three months. First because in Spain, we were under the strictest lockdown in Europe, children were kept indoors for a full 8 weeks. No exceptions. Then as we entered Phase 1, because Barcelona lagged behind and we were forbidden from entering or exiting upon pain of extremely high “multa’s” or fines.
And they were widely and heavily enforced. A lot of police took the state of alarm as entitlement to speak and behave in ways that left me sputtering with disbelief. Fines started at 600€, this in a country where a salary of 800€ net is not uncommon. As usual half, the internet was with me and the other put on their CAPS and yelled: “They are saving lives!”.
The medial staff saved lives, the police in a lot of cases lacked humanity. And I say this as a middle-aged white woman who goes through life mostly unseen by the police.
Outside was my wish. My friend booked a table for two in intense sunshine at restaurant Salamanca. The menu del dia is 15€. A steal. The portions are so big, customers ask for Tupperware to take it back home.
The waiters wore masks but sometimes pulled them down to speak. I’ve developed a tick where I pull my mask down to hear.
The lunch menu has 5 options for both starter and main. I’ve missed the Catalan comfort food of fideau, which at Salamanca comes with a large spoonful of aioli. The main course is Sardines. I saw through the voyeurism portal that is Instagram that people did make sardines during the lockdown. Not me. It’s hard to live with the lingering fish smell in a house you aren’t allowed to step out of. Particularly an oily fish. I left it in the realm of wishes.
The lunch menu included a dessert. Creme caramel please thank you. Restaurant Salamanca threw in some little sponges. And we finished with a coffee.
We sat out long enough that I got a sunburn. The tables around us lingered just as we did. They talked and talked, it sounded like a pool of flamingos squawking.
At some point a police car drove up and stopped, making me finger the face mask in my bag nervously. But in this instance at least, the dreaded fine pad stayed holstered.