When Madness Strikes

Too much time has passed since I last hosted a tapas party. Actually, it wasn’t a party, it was just a few (make that four)  friends I had invited to show off my culinary talents. Well, not talents; more like my culinary aspirations. You know, I wanted to show off what I wished I could do better. That sounds strange and it is. I will admit to being moderately strange, occasionally drifting from “moderately” to “rabidly.” But that’s neither here nor there. I intended this post to be about tapas, not about me. But I suppose there’s no escaping egotism, especially when it’s being modeled at the highest levels of government. But I don’t want to get political here, so I’ll slide back into my comfort zone, which involves gluttony.

During my first cup of coffee this morning, I wandered the Whorl Wide Web (I know, but just let it be) to explore the whorl of tapas. I do love tapas. Always have. Always will, methinks. Anyway, this morning I got rather serious about compiling recipes for my next tapas party, which will be more than just a gathering of a few folks. And here’s what I came up with for the menu:

  • Moorish Pork Skewers
  • Shark Chunks with Pine Nuts and Tomatoes
  • Flank Steak with Goat Cheese on Toast
  • Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Manchego Cheese and Romesco
  • Bomba de Patatas
  • Champiñones al Ajillo
  • Pincho Ribs with Sherry Glaze
  • Chorizo Poached in Red Wine
  • Albondigas de Cordero a la Hierbabuena
  • Papas Bravas
  • Cauliflower Fritters topped with Yoghurt
  • Mixed Olives
  • Seasoned Almonds
  • Garlic Shrimp
  • Peppers with Raisins

Yes, I know. Too much meat and too few vegetables. And I need to be consistent with my language; either all English or a Spanish instead of the mixed bag. Before I lock in the menu, I need to consider just how many people I expect to come to this party and how gluttonous they are apt to be. Of course, I need to consider whether I’ll be able to pull it all together so everything is ready at the same time. That’s always a tricky situation. A very real constraint on the menu may well be the number of burners on my stove; it’s hard to prepare six dishes that require stove-top real estate with only four burners, don’t you know.

I can buy the obligatory sangria and sherry to drink with tapas, though decent dry sherry is rather hard to come by in central Arkansas for some reason. Most sherry here is sweet and cheap; I like the cheap part, but sweet is not my thing. For the drinkers of non-alcoholic beverages, I’m thinking lemon-infused sparkling water, iced tea, and iced coffee.

For the last tapas-bash we hosted, I created a Spotify play list of Spanish guitar music. Next time, I think I’ll create a list that includes a mix of musical genres. My limited exploration of current Spanish music revealed that the group, Manel, which mixes pop and folk and performs in Catalan, is popular. Another Spanish group whose music I’ve enjoyed for several years is Jarabe de Pelo. I’d have to say the music of Jarabe de Pelo is among my favorites. Yeah, I’ll mix it up. Some Andrés SegoviaRaimundo Amador, Rocío Dúrcal, Concha Buika, et al.

In an ideal world, my circle of friends and acquaintances would be as insanely “in” to such things as tapas parties as am I. They would insist on exploring exciting recipes and seeking out popular Spanish music. They would want to contribute to the food and drink and music and general atmosphere. Alas (there’s that word), my friends are not as crazy as I am about such stuff. They like to eat, drink, mix, and mingle, but they’d rather “leave the preparation to someone else, thank you.”

Now that I think of it, my friends and family and people with whom I associate are not as hyper-focused as I on anything. Maybe I’m the strange one, indeed. Last year, I insisted that we’d have a food-focused gathering at our house on September 7 in celebration of Brazilian  independence day. I wanted to have Brazilian food, Brazilian music, Brazilian themed decorations, etc. And I planned to do significant research into Brazilian history to be able to speak with some degree of knowledge about Brazil’s history and its independence, which was declared on September 7, 1822. There’s a term for this madness that drives me in such matters, but I can’t think of it at the moment. I wonder if I really do suffer from some form of mental malady that causes me to hone in on things of interest to me to the extent that I go a bit overboard. Hmm. Well, enough of that. It’s time for me to get practical about our next tapas party. And I suppose I’ll have to ask my wife if she’ll allow me to pursue this madness again.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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