Saturday, October 02, 2010

Grapes - and anis .....

'Catalina, Catalina,' shouted José. Which invariably means there is some free food in the offing. It was grapes from his daughter's finca.

It took me by surprise the first time our Spanish neighbours started giving us food.

Not just fresh food - but even cooked meals, if the family didn't eat it all - we got the leftovers. I felt like I was on the receiving line in a soup kitchen. OK so I haven't done soup kitchens but I have had the free hand-outs at the Krishnas. Fortunately, unlike Krishna food, the Spanish food from next door wasn't the same every day and eventually I got used to it and started to enjoy the novelty of someone providing me with free, fresh and tasty meals.

It's not just our immediate neighbours either. Because we live in a small community people regard each other as neighbours when they live a few streets - or more - away. And when there is a glut of veg, the Spanish don't want it to go to waste so huge bags of food are liberally handed out. Well, only to people they like I suppose. Artichokes, cucumbers, cabbages, courgettes, tomatoes, onions, aubergines, broad beans, runner beans - whatever is the crop at the time.

But like everywhere, the economy is on a downturn and people are struggling. So the freebies don't happen too often these days.

What to do with a few kilos of grapes though? Partner doesn't like fruit, and I eat it for breakfast sometimes - but not that many grapes. Even though they were Moscatel grapes. He came up with a bright idea. At New Year, Spaniards have a custom of trying to eat 12 grapes before the 12 midnight chimes have finished. They also drink the odd few glasses of cava but that part isn't relevant for this.

So grapes matured in anis are a traditional Christmas/New Year thing. Our neighbours usually given us some every Christmas in a glass with the accompanying liquid. They invariably do it early in the morning so it basically blows our heads off for the rest of the day.

Off we went to buy the bottle of anis. Most makes of anis are sweet but there are a couple of dry ones. Anis de Mono is our poison of choice.

i washed the grapes, and filled the jar. A whole bottle of anis went into the grape jar!!!!!!!!

They plumped up in no time, swelling out with the anis. After a couple of days, I had to try one. Yummy. Of course. I decided to spoon a little liquid into my teacup which I was eating them in (run out of bowls - all in the dishwasher).

Wait!!!! Where is that potent incredibly strong grapey anisy liquid? Not there. Just some watery nothing in particular. All the anis had magically transferred itself to the grapes. How could it do that? More to the point, how come when my neighbour dished up grapes and liquid - it tasted like pure alcohol?

Got it. My crafty - and generous - neighbour wasn't really giving us the left over dregs from the fermenting grapes. She had topped up our glasses from a brand new bottle. No wonder we always felt rat-arsed.

The jar got topped up with more grapes on our next visit :) and the left overs were given to the chickens who seemed very happy. No chickens were fed grapes with anis, I add hastily.


Letty - A Little Girl With A Curl said...

I have two questions. I wondered why Partner doesn't like fruit. I always imagined him to be a fruit eater for some reason.

The second question about this really interesting post, is what is Anis? I wondered if it was something like we used to see in France when we were camping? Aniseedy flavour and very alcoholic. Can't remember the darn name of it now though.

Fascinating how generous your neighbours are, you just cannot imagine somethng like this happening here! Although it does happen to me in the allotment when other holders have a glut of veg/fruit etc.

I really enjoyed reading this and also liked the photos, love grapes mmmmm!


Katherine and Pippa said...

I have no idea why he doesn't like fruit. He has been known to eat it in the past, but it seems with age he no longer likes it. He did try a grape though - after it had been soaked of course.

Anise, anisette, ouzo etc - yeah they are all much the same. Pernod is the most common one in France that I remember. Disgusting stuff I used to think.

Not something I would drink every day, but nice for a change, especially the dry one. And gives the grapes a great lift :)


Blue said...

Know I'm late coming to read this ... but loved it.

Dina ... UK said...

Letty, asked all the questions I was going to...:)
You have told me what I wanted to know. LOL
Your neighbours sound like nice friendly people.
Throw us a grape or two. :)

Imogen said...

Pernod,gad, hate that vile stuff. I imagine the grapes make the Anise much more delicious.

If K was there with all those grapes, there would be no grapes for the Anise......he eats them like they are going out of fashion. I like them but they are way too sweet for my blood sugars.

Partner obviously gets his Vit C etc from the vegetarian diet. I am most concerned about him not eating fruit, K takes 4 pieces to work every day.......

We also get through a lot of loo paper - well he does ;oD I would have made this comment anonymous but see it is not allowed.