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August 16, 2010
Manuel, Francisco y Gumersinda

Tams church.jpgMy grandmother first came to West Virginia at about 14 or 15 years old with her brothers Manuel and Francisco, my father tells me.

Of four sisters, only Gumersinda Tarano Priede went with them. Primitiva, Amelia and Delfina stayed behind, although Delfina, the youngest, later went with her husband to Argentina.

Gumersinda and Manuel eventually made it back to Iguanzu, the small Asturian mountainside village where they were raised, and died there. But not before Gumersinda, known as Sinda to most, went through two husbands and all of her children moved back to the United States, where they all live today.

Her parents didn't make the trip and my father isn't sure how the brothers decided to go to West Virginia bringing their sister with them, but it wasn't unusual for Asturianos to head West in those days. The luckier ones returned with New World earnings and built Casas Indios, ornate summer homes that still dot the northern Spanish countryside.

Driving through the green hills of southern West Virginia I can see how the countryside would convince some to urge their families to join them _ the mountainous terrain is similar to the Asturian countryside, the work was no more backbreaking and they were already accustomed to poor or indifferent management.

We spend the morning and afternoon heading southwest from Baltimore in brand-new Volvo S 40 Zipcar, eventually tooling through a national forest and past what we think is the Greenbrier golf course that had hosted a golf tournament we watched on television the weekend before.  A short time later we pull into Beckley, which seems to be a series of strip malls, car dealerships, big box stores and supermarkets surrounding an aging downtown. As always, my father begins to fret about finding someplace to stay before the sun goes down, so we get a room at a Marriott Courtyard next to an Outbacks and an Applebee's.

We then head out again to find Mount Hope and Carlisle.

My dad was born in Carlisle and thinks his mother and uncles may have spent some time in Mount Hope, but isn't sure.

 Mount Hope isn't far, about a dozen miles north on Route 19, just before the spectacular arched bridge that spans the New River Gorge, so we go before dinner. The town is much smaller than Beckley, but the pattern repeats; an aging decrepit core with some nice homes a little further afield.
Tams church.jpg
The next morning, we head to Carlisle, a row of homes along a quiet wooded road and a brick country store, where he believes his uncle Francisco ran a pool hall. Apparently, Francisco was smart enough to escape the mines and became fairly wealthy, but not smart enough to deal with women and wealth. He never married and died, my father heard, penniless in California.

``In a chicken coop, the whores cleaned him out,'' my father says, although he's not really sure of the details, just that he never got married and that he had scraped together something like $35,000 at one point during the Depression. Manuel never got married either. My father thinks he retired about 1955 because he saw him when he visited his mother during his honeymoon in 1956.

After taking in the view of the bridge at a nearby park, we have breakfast at Biscuit World and visit a coal mining museum in Beckley. We take an old coal mine train into a mine shaft where our guide Marvin shows us how to light a hissing carbide lamp powered by pellets dropped into water and explains how miners were paid by the ton, using dynamite to free the coal and then shovel it into cars. A woman taking the tour with us tells me her family came from Poland, and she had heard the various groups got along although there were frequent strikes. During the tour, we  also see equipment donated by a company that had a mine in Tams, the clue needed to find another of the towns my grandmother lived in.

My father knew his half-sister Maria was born in a town pronounced Tem-Mes, Tam-mes, or something like that, and once we saw the equipment it was easy to find by asking Marvin and the woman, who both know the area well.

Tams, or what once was Tams, is about 20 miles south of Beckley. A church and some of the homes remain, but the road is rutted and what was Tams is now reachable only by ATV's, 4x4s, hikers, and other rough-terrain approaches.

Life in Tams wasn't bad by some accounts.  My father says his mother told him they went fishing occasionally. She also washed the clothes of single miners, and sewed for those who needed it, making some extra money.

The owner of the mine, Major Tams, was a life-long bachelor and lived in the town his whole life, walking the streets, asking children about their families, according to

He segregated the town into sections for white, black and foreign minors, but he paid more than the union wage, and built a movie theater. After the mine closed, he lived in his a bachelor cottage until he died in the 1970.

Sinda's neighbors were black, my father said.

``She said they were very good people,''' he said, adding the two families would help each other with various things.

Apparently, Sinda's first husband worked there, but became ill and went back to Spain for treatment. She eventually followed him there with young Maria, but by the time she arrived, he had died. She wrote her brothers, who told her to return to West Virginia, and she did, later meeting my grandfather and giving birth to my father in Carlisle. By 1932, the Depression had fully set in and the family moved back to Spain, where my father's younger brother, Francisco, and sister, America, were later born.

``There were a lot of huelgas (strikes),'' my father said. ``She hated that because there was no money. After a while there was no more work, and they went back.''

Her second husband, also named Francisco, was from a small Andalusian town outside Aracena known as La Arcilla de Rio Tinto and that's where they went. The large Rio Tinto mining firm gets its name from the region in southern Spain sandwiched between Sevilla, Huelva and Extremadura. However, Francisco Dominguez also didn't live long out of the mines and when he died a few years later, the again fatherless family moved first to Asturias during the Civil War and later to La Facha, a small village outside Ourense, where her first husband had property.

In the 1950s, her daughter Maria went back to America with her new husband Gilberto, and the rest of Sinda's children followed. But despite the efforts of my father, who traveled once in the 50s or 60s to West Virginia for documents to bring her back over, she had had enough of America, moving back to Asturias, where she lived with her sisters until the early 1970s when she died.

Posted by Alex at 08:07 PM
September 20, 2009
But wait there's more....

Coming soon another installment of the Count of Baltimore's travels in northern Spain, where he is known as El Conde de Baltimore. This time he's joined once again by O Conde Pai, as well as O Conde Tio, who returns for the first time to the childhood home he fled during the Franco regime, and his uncle's son, O Conde Primo.

Posted by Alex at 03:38 PM
December 25, 2004
The view from the trough

GRANADA DEL RIO TINTO (JNS) _ The water pours from the ground and is guided through a covered clothes washing shed made of brick with individual stalls.
That wasn't there when we lived here, my father says.
He points to an even older stone trough, and says that's the one he remembers.
It's hot and dry, the summer sun still baking us at 8 p.m. Everyone except my father takes off their sandals and dips their feet in the cool water in a third trough with a cross at one end. It's been nearly 70 years since he left and my father can't remember what the third trough was used for.
The next day, a street cleaner, drinking water from a spout filling a similar series of troughs in nearby Aracena, explains the system.

The first is filled by the spring water that comes
from the ground, usually through a brass pipe set in stone or concrete. That is where people filled their cantaros, large clay jugs used to bring water to their houses, holding them under the pipe to get the clear, cold water as it poured out. In the house, my father says, smaller unglazed jugs called picherins or piporros, which had two pouring spouts, were used to serve the water. They were unglazed so the water seeping through the ceramic would evaporate and keep the jug cold.
The second trough was used to provide water for livestock, and the the third for laundry, the street cleaner says as golondrinas dart in and out of round nests hanging from under the eaves. Sometimes, the second and third were in a row, and sometimes they were parallel to each other, or one could be divided down the middle with laundry stalls on one side and a livestock trough on the other.
The landscape is much drier here in the hills above Huelva and Sevilla, but there are plenty of springs. The water is healthier than the chlorinated city water, the street cleaner says.
"Es ma sano, no tiene nada de esos quimicas," he says in his heavy Andaluz accent, dropping the "s" from ``mas.''
We are here because my grandfather, Francisco Dominguez Muriano, was a miner in Rio Tinto, the oldest known copper mine, dating back to the Romans. He went for a while to West Virginia, where he met my grandmother and my father was born in 1931, but became ill and returned to Granada del Rio Tinto, where he died a few years later.
That prompted the move to Asturias by my grandmother in about 1940.
She sold the house in Granada del Rio Tinto before they left. Women normally didn't buy or sell property then but Manolo de la Posada, who had been buying a lot of the land in the village, bought my grandfather's house and property from her anyway. That wasn't his real name, but that's what he was called, my father said the day before as we stood by the troughs.
"When my father died they took us out of the house and brought us here so we wouldn't see that. The coffin came from Narva," he said, pointing at a scrubby nearby hill past which the town must lie.
"In those days they delivered the coffins strapped to the back of
a donkey. I remember standing here and seeing the donkey come down the road."

Posted by Alex at 09:27 PM
November 20, 2004
Maharshi Jabali: Free Thinker Par Excellence

Coincidence? Judge for yourself.
The following tale of the great Hindu inconoclast and mystic, maharshi Jabali, comes to you dear reader courtesy of :

Vashishtha and the other sages, queens and patriarchs who had gone with Bharat to Chitrakut mountain had all tried in many ways to persuade Ramachandra to return to Ayodhya. But Rama, firm in his vow, remained unmoved. Ultimately, the great sage, maharshi Jabali spoke:

Rama, you are too much of a simpleton. Let not your understanding get deluded like an ordinary mans. A man takes birth alone and alone he perishes. Therefore, he who wallows in affection for parents is insane. Discarding the kingdom at your fathers request and taking shelter in inaccessible and dangerous forests is not your duty. Return to prosperous Ayodhya this instant. That city, like an abandoned wife in a single-braid, awaits you. There pass the days enjoying the kingdom and live in supreme happiness like Indra in the world of the gods. Dasharath is no one to you. He is a distinct being and so are you. Child, you are being ruined because of your own flawed intelligence. I am extremely worried about those who, discarding concrete goals, live only for religion. For, after suffering various tortures in this world they are utterly destroyed. People perform funeral obsequies offering food to departed ancestors. Now, this is unnecessary waste of food; for who has ever heard that dead persons can eat? Those scriptures that contain prescriptions for worshipping gods, sacrifices, donations, ascesis and other rituals, have been prepared by wise men only to keep people subjugated. Therefore, Rama, comprehend that there is nothing whatsoever as dharma for the after-life. Act on what is before you and engage yourself for what is to come. Bharat is requesting you. Following the unanimous advice, accept the responsibility of the kingdom.2

Hearing Jabalis words, Ramachandra, basing himself on knowledge of dharma, said:

Rich-in-ascesis Sir, what you have said desiring my welfare is actually improper but seems to be duty. Your advice is anti-Vedic and you are an atheist fallen from dharma. Properly I condemn my fathers appointment of you as priest. As a Buddhist deserves the same punishment as a robber, so too should an atheist be punished. Therefore, discriminating people do not even speak to those atheists who are to be avoided as driven beyond the Vedic pale.

Jabali meekly replied, Rama, I am not atheist; nor am I voicing atheistic views. And it is not that there is nothing such as an after-life. Expediently, as the situation demands, I turn an atheist and after an interval become a believer. The time when it is necessary to become an atheist has come. For turning you back from the forest now I spoke thus and now, again, it is for pleasing you that I am withdrawing what I said.

That is all Ramayana has to say about Jabali. What is missing is given below.

Maharshi Jabali returned to Ayodhya tired and morose. The entire journey he had had to pass in silence, the other sages practically shunning his company. Kharbat, Khallaat, Khaalit and some other rishis had not even refrained from pointedly mocking him from a distance.

None of the Brahmins of Ayodhya respected Jabali. Only because King Dasharath himself was fond of him he had not had to face any insults so far. But now Jabalis status had been demolished by Ramachandra. From the behaviour of the Brahmins travelling with him Jabali clearly understood that continuing to live in Ayodhya would be as impossible for him as for a fish to exist in hot oil.

Jabali was not angry with Ramachandra at all; but he was somewhat anxious about Ramas future. The lad was but twenty-seven years of age and not the slightest bit of worldly wisdom appeared to have germinated in him. Whatever the scripture-parroting professional court-pandits and the best of sages Vishvamitraa doer of great deeds and many an escapade at one timehad taught him about dharma, the simpleton Ramachandra had soaked it all up as lifes supreme goal. That poor lad will have to face much trouble after this. Mulling over different thoughts like this Jabali returned to his ashram in Ayodhya.


Jabalis leaf-hut is on the bank of the Sarayu on the outskirts of the city. The day is waning. On one side of the clean courtyard smoothened with cow dung paste, under a jackfruit tree Jabalis wife Hindralinee is cooking food for the night. The venison sent by the Nishad tribals living across the river has been barbecued on skewers. Once a few thick rice cakes have been baked, the cooking will be over. As she laid into the lump of maize-dough, all sorts of household worries passed through her mind. So many years had gone by but she had not looked upon a sons face as yet. Her husband has neither fear of the hell named Put3, nor any worry about getting fed in the next life. He is quite content with getting two regular meals every day. If adopting a child is suggested he says, Where is the lack of a son? Whenever you wish, consider whosoever you fancy as your son. What a way to talk! Had her husband been truly a man, Hindralinee would not have regretted so much. But he is quite distinct from all created beings and cannot get on with anyone. No wonder, behind his back people call him a heretic. No performance of the sandhya thrice, no chanting of mantras, no austerities, no tending the sacred fire; only infuriating people through arguments. Even such a person as Ramachandra has this Brahmin succeeded in infuriating. So long as Dasharath was alive there was no shortage of food and clothing. The old king was henpecked no doubt but his outlook was noble. Now only fate knows what the future has in store! Bharat is preoccupied with worshipping Ramachandras sandals in Nandigram. The minister Sumantra is now looking after the kings work, but is extremely miserly. Used to reining in horses, it has become his habit to rein in everything. The scant stipend that is available from the palace is not enough to run the household these pricey days. Hindralinee had heard from her father that in Satya yuga, the golden age, a single cowrie would buy seven jars of genuine ghee made from fresh cow-butter; but in these unlucky Treta times only three jars are available, that too buffalo-ghee. Jabali has incurred some debts on account of ghee but does not have the means to repay. The wild paddy that had been stored is almost finished, the clothes are frayed, there is no income; and here Jabali is going on making more enemies. In her husbands company Hindralinee, too, has become used to unseemly ways. The devout ladies of Ayodhya wrinkle their lips like sows on seeing her. Hindralinee cannot bear this any more. Today, after the meal, she will give her husband a bit of her mind.

Outside the courtyard someone roared, Hamho Jabaley, hamho! Anxious Hindralinee saw ten or twelve diminutive sages standing at the entrance of the hut. Seeing their sparse whiskers and squat, pot-bellied bodies Hindralinee made out that they were the Balakhilya hermits.

Hindralinee said, O ascetics of mighty prowess, my husband is engrossed in meditation on the banks of Sarayu. He will return soon. Till then kindly be seated on the verandah of that hut and rest.

The leader of the Balakhilyas, the great ascetic Kharbat said, Auspicious lady, that verandah of yours is three vitastis4 above the ground. We will not be able to negotiate it. Therefore, we shall take our seat in this courtyard itself; dont you get flustered.

At that time, seated under a Jambu tree on Sarayus bank, Jabali was musingin this human body, dependant on food and water, what combination of the five elements creates sound sense and how foolishness is born. Further, when the medicine of caning agitates the five elements in the body to throw out foolishness and sound sense dawns, is that a permanent state or not. Unable to resolve this complicated ontological puzzle despite all efforts, Jabali finally got up and returned to the ashram.

Jabali said to the Balakhilyas, Oho, how fortunate am I today that Kharbat, Khaalit and other great sages have gathered in my ashram! O munis5, is all well with you? Sacrifices are being performed without obstacles? Rishi-chomping rakshasas dont cast greedy glances on you? Has that brown cow of yours calved? Royal guru Vashishtha has arranged adequate amounts of bovine-products6 for you?

Mahamuni Kharbat croaked like a bull-frog in deep tones, Jabaley, be silent! We have not come here to enjoy your hospitality. Neck-deep are you sunk in sinful mire. Weve come to save you. Fasting, Chandrayan and other penances are of no use for you. We shall purify you by fire in the Atharvan manner whereby you will achieve salvation. The burning chaff is ready; follow us.

Jabali said, O Kharbat, who has sent you? The regent Bharat or royal guru Vashishtha? And why are you so anxious about my salvation? I am a totally harmless forest-dwelling old Brahmin who has never caused anyone harm. I havent even shared in the donations you receive. Instead of being so bothered for my next life, take pains over your present lives.

Then the highly irascible sage Khallaat neighed in quivering tones, Hah you ascetic! You are an exceedingly wicked heretic and an atheist. Because you live here, this city of Ayodhya has become impure and virtuous Brahmins are agitated. We do not follow orders of either Bharat or Vashishtha. It is for protecting Brahminism that we have been created by Brahma. Do not waste words any more. Get ready.

Jabali said, O Balakhilyas, I will not go voluntarily. Lift me by Brahmic energy!

Appraising Jabalis sala-tree like huge body the Balakhilyas consulted among themselves for a while in low voices. Ultimately the toothless monk Khaalit quavered, O Jabaley! If you are so terrified of entering fire then let it be. By way of substitute for penance hand over three baskets of sesame seed and hundred gold coins. We shall free you of sin by performing prescribed sacrifices.

Jabali said, I dont have a single cowrieand even if I had I wouldnt give it.

Kharbat, Khallaat and the other hermits cried out together, O you worst of men! Then we curse youhear! Witness moon, sun, stars; witness gods, manes, deities of all quarters, chanters of oblatory mantras

Jabali said, A distillers witness is a drunkard; a robbers witness is a pickpocket. O Balakhilyas, you invoke the gods in vain. They wont come. Rather, you had better summon ghosts and goblins.

Hindralinee said, Aryaputra7, noble sir, why are you arguing with these short-lived, half-grown, unseasonal pumpkins? Drive them away!

The Balakhilyas shouted, Re re re re

Jabali picked up the Balakhilyas one by one in his huge arms and dropped themplonk, plonkacross the fencing of the courtyard.


After the Balakhilyas had left, Jabali said, Dearest, we should not live in Ayodhya any longer. There is no saying from what corner some mischief may come. Therefore, tomorrow itself at dawn we shall leave this ashram and go somewhere far off to a place free from disturbance.

The next day at dawn Jabali left Ayodhya with his wife. A few devoted Nishads went ahead with their meagre household items to show the way. Travelling over a month they crossed many habitations, hills, rivers, forests and finally arrived in a delightful valley at the foothills of the Himalayas on the banks of the river Shatadru.

There Jabali built his leaf-hut and began living comfortably. The mountain-dwelling Kirat tribals were fascinated by his huge body, thick beard and sweet, kind behaviour and welcomed him with many sorts of presents. There Jabali remained immersed in investigating various types of abstruse ontological questions and in intervals diverted himself by fishing in the Shatadru river.

The gods are famed as omniscient, but actually they too have to act depending on rumours like ordinary mortals; and as a result of this many unjust things happen in this world. Soon Indra, the king of the gods, received news that Jabali, the sage of mighty prowess, was engaged in stern ascesis on the banks of Shatadru river. What his purpose was could not be ascertained clearly as yet, but possibly he will not give up without attaining the station of Indra, Vishnu or some similar supreme status. Worried, the king of the gods ordered, Call Urvashee!

Maatalee, his charioteer, came forward and with folded hands submitted, O king of gods! Urvashee does not wish to descend to earth any more.

Indra said, Hmmshe has become so spirited!

Devarshi Narad, the celestial sage, said, It is the mortal poets who have swollen her head by singing her praises. Let her be for some time. After she has remained confined to Amaravati8 for some time she will, on her own, apply for visiting the mortal world. Despatch some other apsara9 for Jabali.

Maatali said, Menakaa10 has gone to visit her daughter. The Ashvinikumars11 will not let Tilottamaa venture outdoors for another three months. Alambushaa has sprained her foot and wont be able to dance. The sage Ashtaavakra, annoyed with the gods, has become intractable and Rambhaa has gone to mollify him. Nagduttaa, Hemaa, Somaa and three hundred apsaras have been abducted by the king of Lanka, Ravan. Only Mishrakeshee and Ghritaachee are left.

Annoyed, Indra said, Without informing me why are apsaras sent here and there? Mishrakeshee and Ghritaachee are getting on in years. They wont be good for anything.

Narad said, O Indra, dont worry about that. Jabalis no youth either. It is apsaras of the somewhat matronly variety who will be able to bring him to heel satisfactorily.

Indra said, Mishrakeshees hair has gone grey; let her be. Arrange to despatch Ghritaachee. Provide her with a piece of fine Chinese silk and matching ornaments etc. Wind-god Vayu, blow gently. Moon-god Shashadhar, take a bath in Mandakini so that you shine brightly. Kandarpa, god of love, wear that cloudy raiment so that you arent turned to ashes again. Vasant, take along a hundred cuckoos with you.

Narad said, And a hundred wild fowl. The sage is extremely partial to meat .

Indra said, All right, take that along too. And ten jars of ghee, ten pots of curd, ten pitchers of molasses and other delectable food. Jabalis meditation must be broken anyhow.

Completing all preparations, Ghritaachee set off on the mission to conquer Jabali.


It was raining heavily in Jabalis forest of ascesis. Becoming one with the mountain, clouds had formed a thick wall on the horizon. Shoals of fish swam about in the ochre waters of Shatadru. In the forest a great festival of croaking frog clans was going on round the clock.

Just before evening Ghritaachee, with attendants in tow, arrived at Jabalis ashram. There was not the slightest delay in mounting the offensive as, having undertaken many such enterprises in the past, they had become experts. In an instant clouds vanished, a soft southerly breeze began to blow, Shatadrus current slackened to a musical flow, a full moon rose in the cloudless sky, all trees were bedecked with flowers, bees began humming, the frogs fell silent and hid in the pools.

Rod in hand on the bank of Shatadru Jabali was concentrating on catching fish. Disturbed by the sudden change in natural order he began looking all around. Suddenly, poked by Vasant12, the lord of seasons, the drowsy cuckoo clan began shrieking in distress. Startled, Jabali turned around and saw an enchantingly beautiful celestial maiden dancing with left hand on hip and right hand on chin.

Wise Jabali quickly took in the entire situation. With a light laugh he said, O lovely one, who are you and for what have you come to this inaccessible valley bereft of people? Stop your dancing. This river bank is extremely slippery and covered with pebbles. If you slip, those delicate bones of yours will not remain whole.

Shooting sidelong glances and rolling her eyes Ghritaachee said, O best of rishis, I am Ghritaachee, courtesan of Svarga. I am besotted with you. Be pleased with me. All these things are yours alone. These jars of ghee, pots of curd, pitchers of molassesall are yours. I too am yours. All that is mineno, let that be With that, shy Ghritaachee stopped and lowered her eyes modestly.

Jabali said, O Kalyani, auspicious one, I am a poor, humble, old Brahmin. I have a wife too. Satisfying you is beyond my means. Therefore, return to Indras abode. Or, if you have developed a fascination for seers and rishis, proceed to Ayodhya. Kharbat, Khallaat and other sages live there. You will be able to twist anyone or as many of them as you wish round your little finger. And, in case you have higher ambitions, earn fame by subjugating Bhaargav, Durvaasaa, Kaushik and other great rishis of fiery ascetic prowess. Please let me be.

Ghritaachee said, O Jabaley! You are utterly unromantic. Has the creator made that huge body of yours from dry wood? Whats the harm if you are poor and humble? Ill bring you Kubers13 wealth. Send off your housewife to Varanasi14. She must be a drooping hag. And cast your eyes but once on meever young, firm and rounded, flawless. Even Urvashee and Menakaa turn green with jealousy when they see me.

Laughing Jabali said, O lovely one, please dont mind. Even you arent just a little girl. What are those lines I see peeping through the mask of pollen on your face? What are those shadows under your eyes? What are those gaps in your rows of teeth?

Angrily Ghritaachee said, You fool, you must be night-blind, thats why you are speaking like this. Owing to the strain of the journey my loveliness is not shining that brightly for the moment. Let morning come and after I have bathed applying milk-cream, just see, your head will spin. Saying this Ghritaachee resumed dancing.

Not too far away, from behind a deodar tree, Jabalis wife had been watching everything. On Ghritaachee starting to dance for the second time she was unable to control herself. Broom in hand she rushed forward and applied a few blows on Ghritaachees back.

At that Kandarp, Vasant, and southern breezeeveryone fled mightily terrified. The sky became overcast with rain clouds once again and the horizon grew dark. The cuckoo clan started dozing; the bees, utterly bewildered, started stinging one another; Shatadrus waters swelled and the gleeful frog-clan resumed a terrible cacophony.

Jabali said to his wife, Beloved, steady! She is Svargas courtesan Ghritaachee and has come here at Indras command. Shes not to blame.

Hindralinee said, You black-faced shameless hussy Ghenchi! Finding my husband a simpleton you dare to come to fool him? And, ho! You utterly shameless personwhat happened to your senses that you were talking familiarly and in private with this cat-eyed witch of a bulging forehead?

Narrating all that had happened Jabali, with great difficulty, soothed his wife and told the weeping Ghritaachee, Child, calm down. Once Hindralinee has rubbed some ingudee15 oil on your back the pain will go. This night rest in my hut. Tomorrow return to Amaravati and conveying my greetings to Indra, king of the gods, thank him profusely for the ghee, curd, molasses etc.

Ghritaachee whined, He will not even look at me. Alas! Such a calamity has never befallen me!
Jabali said, You have nothing to fear. Inform the king of the gods that I dont have the slightest desire for his seat. He can freely keep enjoying his kingdom of Svarga.


Hearing of Ghritaachees defeat Indra, king of the gods, said to Narad, O Devarshi, celestial sage, what can be done now? Even after hearing that Jabali is not bothered about becoming Indra I am unable to be at rest. Popular gossip has it that this terrible rishi wishes to destroy even all the gods.

Narad said, Purandar, dont worry. I am taking necessary steps.


Coming to Sanak and other sages In Naimisha forest Narad asked, O sages, the scriptures say that in the Satya Yug virtue had four legs, sin does not exist. But in this Treta Yug virtue is only three-legged and one leg of sin is also visible. Have you thought on why this is so?

The hermits said, Amazingthis none of us have ever thought upon!

Narad said, Then all your reciting of mantras, austerities, rituals and sacrifices are useless. Saying this he departed on his wooden vehicle16 to visit Brahmaa to weave another plot.

The hermits, unable to find an answer to Narads question, summoned a great assembly. Various learned Brahmins assembled from the seven landsJambu, Plaksha, Shalmali, Plava Naimisha. Maharshi Jabali, having been invited, arrived.

Finally, after everyone had taken his seat, the chairman, Daksha Prajapati17, said, O pandits! In the Satya era virtue was four legged; now it has become three legged. Why this has happened and what is its remedy, if any of you are aware then reveal it.

Then Jaamadagnya18 rishi, fiery as blazing fire, said, O Prajapatey! This sinful souled Jabali is the root of all ills. The earth is burdened by his touch.

The assembled pandits said, Right, right! We know this for long.

Jaamadagnya continued, This Jabali is a perverted, heretical atheist. He has neither scripture nor doctrine. It is this heretic who tried to make Ramachandra fall from his dharma of sticking to his vow. It is this wicked man who has tortured the Balakhilyas. Even Purandar, king of the gods, has been made a laughing stock by this sinner. Unless he is killed virtues lost leg cannot be restored.

The pandits said, We too were thinking exactly along these lines.

Daksha Prajapati said, O Jabaley, speak truthfully whether you are an atheist or not. What is the path you follow and what is your scripture?

Jabali said, O wise assembly, whether I am a believer or a non-believer I myself do not know. I let the gods be and do not bother them with my petty wants and complaints. Whatever slight intelligence the creator has given me, on the strength of that I carry on somehow. My path lies anywhere and everywhere; my doctrine is expediency, changing with change, human.

Daksha said, I cant make head or tail of your words.

Jabali said, O goat-headed Daksha19, do not try in vain to understand. Im off now. Brahmins, may victory be yours!

Then a mighty hullabaloo arose in the assembly and the highly pious Brahmins were mad with anger. Some grabbed hold of Jabali. Jaamadagnya, raising his sharp axe, said, I have annihilated the Kshatriya clans one and twenty times. This time Ill get rid of this atheist.

Daksha of steady intellect said, Stop, stop, what would you doa weapons blow on a Brahmins body! Shame, shame, what will Manu20 think! Rather, kill him by using poison.

So far Narad, the celestial sage, had been sitting unnoticed. Now, coming forward he said, I have absolutely pure Chinese poison with me. If a mustard-seeds amount is taken one achieves divine knowledge; two mustard-seed portions destroy intelligence; four portions give hellish torment and eight parts gift moksha21. Administer four portions to Jabali. Take care that the dose is not exceeded.

Dissolving the black poison brought from Mahachin22 in water, it was forced down Jabalis throat. Then, throwing him into a dense thicket, the panditsknowing past present and futuresaid, By now the heretic has reached Kumbheepaak.23


The Chinese poison began to make itself felt gradually in Jabalis head. Often had Jabali drunk soma juice when invited to sacrifices. In early youth, in the company of princes, he had also tried out liquor from Gauda24, beer and other drinks. In adolescence at his maternal uncles home he had, with his uncle Bhrigu, taken stolen foaming palm juice too. But such a tremendous intoxication he had never experienced before. All of Jabalis limbs became numb, his palate grew parched, his eyes rolled upwards and he lost all consciousness of the external world.

Suddenly Jabali felt that, anointed with blood-red sandal paste, wearing blood-red garlands, he was speeding southwards on a donkey-drawn chariot25. A tawny complexioned damsel26 in blood-red garments was looking at him and laughing and a grotesque rakshashi27 was driving his chariot. At length, crossing Vaitarini28 he arrived at the gate of Yamas city. There, Yamas servants greeted him and took him to the Lord of Dharma.

Yama said, Jabaley, welcome! I have waiting for you for very long. I have made suitable arrangements for your after-life; now follow me. That tenebrous, windowless complex of fire-belching buildings you see in the distance is Raurav, where mean spirited sinners live. And this sky-kissing building with a coppery spire and a blood-red verandah running all around that you see in front, it is this that is Kumbheepaak. Respectable and noble persons stay here. It is here that your place has been assigned. Enter.

Then Dharmaraj Yama took Jabali into Kumbheepaaks inner recesses. This hall extending for several yojans,29 had a high ceiling, was filled with steam and reverberated with thunderous sound. On either side, atop flaming kilns, series of huge jars were arranged out of which white steam and howls were rising incessantly. Blue complexioned servants of Yama were opening the furnaces from time to time to throw in fuel. In the lurid light of the flames their faces glowed like meteors.

Kritant30 said, O great sage, this huge silvern jar that you see covered with a net of bells, in it Nahush, Yayati, Dushyant31 and other kings of great fame are being cooked thoroughly. Almost all of them have been purified; there is only some delay in Yayatis case. In another three hours all of them, free from sin, will proceed to Amaravatee. That golden jar you see studded with lapis lazuliin its boiling oil Indra and other gods take a dip from time to time. After Gautams curse32, thousand-eyed Purandar had to spend a long time in this jar. From constant heating by fire its bottom is worn out. That ochre coloured massive jar you see surrounded with rudraaksha garlands, within it Bhaargav, Durvasa, Kaushik and other great rishis of fiery ascesis are being boiled.

Egged on by curiosity Jabali said, O lord of virtue, Dharmaraj, kindly show me what is happening inside the jar.

On Dharmarajs command a Yama-servant took off the jars lid. Inserting a large wooden ladle into it Yama carefully took it out. With wet matted hair and whiskers and steaming bodies some rishis came up in it and, tearing at their sacred threads, began to shout curses, O you hellish Yama-raj, if we have the slightest ascetic power left

Upturning the ladle and quickly replacing the lid on the jar Yama said, O Jabaley, much time is left before the toughness of these irascible sages disappears. Let them continue to stew for eight days more.

At this moment Kharbat, Khallaat, Khaalit entered Kumbheepaaks core with long faces along with some messengers of Yama.

Jabali said, O brothers, why are you here? Is there scarcity of accommodation in Brahmaas abode?
Kharbat replied, Jabaley, dont bother us. We have come here on inspection.

At a sign from Yama the servants bound the three Balakhilyas together and cast them into a tiny jar full of a hot mixture of five cow-products33. Loud shrieks arose from the jar and with them abuse consigning Kritants forefathers to hell. Covering his ears the lord of Dharma moved away saying, O great sage, the customs of this hell are extremely unpleasant. Only for protecting endangered earth do I have to do all this. However, I wont waste your valuable time any more. Now I will perform what is my duty towards you. That sin which is consciously committed I can easily remove. But that which is done unknowingly is passed on through birth after birth and for purifying that it is necessary to be thrust into Kumbheepaak repeatedly. Whatever wrongs you have committed those you have done deliberately, out of weakness, but have never deceived yourself. Therefore I will be able to free you of sin easily and wont torture you much.

Saying this, Kritant caught Jabali in a huge pair of pincers and threw him into a cauldron filled with hot oil. A sizzling hiss was heard.


Suddenly the forest resounded to a thousand bird calls. The east crimsoned with rays of the new dawn. Regaining consciousness Jabali slowly raised his head from devoted Hindralinees lap and saw before him the grandsire of all worlds, Brahma, with a benign face, smiling pleasantly.

Brahma said, Child, I am pleased. Ask what boon you will.

Jabali said, O four-faced one, enough! No boon please. Please push off and dont mock.

Removing his palm-leaf mask Brahma said, Jabaley, control your hurt self-esteem. Even if you dont ask a boon, why should I give up? I too want something. O you independent, free-thinking, ascetic indifferent to fame, do not hide yourself in inaccessible forests any more. Preach your mantra among people. Whatever delusions you have, may they disappear. Remove the delusions of others. None will destroy you and may none be destroyed by you. O noble soul, gaining immortality may you continue, in age after age, among people after people, to free mans mind from the boa of worldliness.

Jabali responded, So be it!

Original in Bengali by Parashuram (Rajshekhar Basu)
Transcreated by Pradip Bhattacharya
February 11, 2004

1. Pronounced Jaabaali
2. Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda, Englished from Hemchandra Bhattacharya Bengali translation used in the original.
3. Pun is the hell to which son-less persons are consigned as they have none to offer them pinda (food) in the after life.
4. A Vitasti = 9 inches
5. Hermits
6. There is a sarcastic reference to cow dung here besides milk, curd, butter, ghee, urine.
7. A formal address for the husband, signifying nobly born.
8. Abode of the gods
9. Courtesans of the gods
10. Mother of Shakuntalaa and Pramadvaraa
11. Physicians of the gods
12. Spring
13. god of wealth
14. Benares, traditionally the refuge of widows and abandoned women
15. nut of the tree Terminalia Catappa
16. Narads vehicle is the wooden paddy-husking pedal
17. Brahma made him the overlord of all creatures. Daksha=dexterous; prajapati=lord of all
18. Parashurama, notorious for destroying Kshatriyas twentyone times
19. When Dakshas yajna was destroyed by Shivas hordes, his head was replaced by a goats.
20. the lawgiver, author of Manu-samhita
21. liberation from rebirth
22. China
23. Pronounced Kumbheepaak, one of the worst hells
24. Bengal
25. The classic description of the journey to the nether world
26. Mrityu (death)
27. ogress
28. The river that the soul crosses after death
29. 1 yojan=4 miles
30. A name of Yama, meaning death
31. All great kings of the Lunar Dynasty. Nahush became king of the gods; his son Yayati is the archetype of lust Dushyant was the father of Bharat
32. For seducing Ahalya, Indra was cursed to bear thousand marks of the vulva on his body which were later turned into eyes.
33. milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung

Top | Hinduism

Posted by Alex at 09:20 PM
July 14, 2004
The Stone Bowl

BERODIA (JNS) _ Waiting for everyone to gather for the afternoon meal, I take a drink from the fountain in front of Sixto's home.
A small stream of water spurts up from a rough stone bowl about 2 1/2 feet wide and about a foot deep with sides three to four inches thick. The bowl sits atop a pedestal of stone.
I ask ``Did this have a use before it was a fountain?''
Sixto's wife, Inez, knows.
``Yes it did, do you want me to tell you?''

A large container similar to a half barrel was placed on a pedestal above it and water was strained through ashes to make lye, which was used to wash clothes. The stone bowl, chiseled out by hand, was placed below to catch the lye.
We go inside and sit at a long table in a room down a few steps at the back of the house. Doors at the end of the room are open, giving us a view of the mountains.
Inez's daughter is visiting from Newark with her husband, Manolo, and his brother and wife are visiting from Australia. We all sit at the long table with Inez' other two daughters, Nansi and Chinche.
Hunting comes up and I mention my father recently shot five deer at once. Manolo says he knows, he was there, he was proud of himself for getting two that day only to see my father with five. Apparently, my father shot one, the other four fled toward his brother, Francisco, who fired turning them back. My father then cleaned up.
``Francisco had his hands on his head,'' Manolo said. ``He was saying `Eiee, what are we going to do with all these deer?'''
We have fabada, followed by various cheeses (cabrales, young cabrales made only from cow's milk that hasn't turned blue, and manchego) For dessert, coffee, liquor and borachina, sweet fried dumplings of bread and egg (kind of like french toast) covered in a sauce of wine and light syrup, thus the name. Refreshed, I walk up into the mountains in a light rain, breathing hard because of the steep incline, stopping to talk for a bit with a man clearing a field of hay by hand with a sicle and a rake. Inez later says he's about 80.
I walk on and turn around when a large German Shepherd trots out onto the road. His owner, Esteban, a young man in his early 20s, is a few steps behind, and we chat on the way down. He lives in Gijon but helps his family with the few cows they still raise.
Back in Berodia, we decide to drive over to the next town, Iquanzo, by the old route _ a mostly unpaved, thin, crooked and steep route Manolo says afterward has earned me a ``carnet internacional,'' an international driver's license.
After a beer in the local bar, a look at the 18th century church and another walk around to examine the local cows, sheep and goats, we head home.
After visiting Berodia we stopped in Arenas de Cabrales the next day for a prix fixe lunch. I had solomillo Cabrales, a strip steak with blue cheese sauce. I asked the waiter if it was cow and he said it was buey, or ox. Whatever it was it was tasty. My father had lomo con pimientos, pork tenderloin with roasted red pepper slices. Lisa had the best of all, bacalao in a green sauce. The sauce was excellent, a little garlic, and some wine, and a little parsley.
Dinner was more of a misadventure. Still stuffed from lunch, we drove into Cangas de Onis, the largest and most touristy town nearyby. The kids were hungry but we weren't so we ordered a pizza to go. By the time it arrived, Cafe San Antonio, Calle Constantino Gonzalez, 7, having beers, an excellent plate of pulpo gallego (9 euros), and something called cariera (5.50 euros, I think). Cariera was pot roasted beef cooked until stringy, but still maintaining its form enough to be served in large chunks along with thick au jus from the pot, potatoes, and of course red roasted peppers, very similar to carne stufada, a popular Gallego dish. The two kids, meanwhile, ran in and out followed by Lisa, while people played cards at a nearby table, some guy came with a trout and the owner lectured him on its quality.

Posted by Alex at 06:08 PM
July 12, 2004
Sixtos last days

BERODIA (JNS) _ The Mercedes van growled its way in low gear up the mountainside to the small cemetery by the church where Gumersinda Tarano, my grandmother, is buried.
We tried to remember which grave it was and I thought what a beautiful view it was looking at the grey-green mountains.
My father had other thoughts and we consoled him.

As we walked up he pointed to a large house across the way and mentioned Don Torribio used to own it. I asked him about it to distract him.
''His name began with Don, so he was a Conde or something,'' he said.
He owned all this land, my father said pointing across the valley and up. And he made all the sidra that they bought.
We walked down to las llanas, the flat area where the cows used to graze and listened again how Leonardo's family used to make tiles for roofs at an oven nearby, but later moved to Gijon and had a factory. The factory closed after the family member in charge had a couple of heart attacks and died.
On the way back to the car a blondish dog barks at us from Don Torribio's house and my father asks a woman clearing weeds who lives there now and if they remember his mother.
``Rogelio will know, she says,'' and gets him.
Rogelio comes out shirtless, a large, square-framed man with a grey moustache. He remembers my father and all of his siblings and the order in which they were born. He invites us in out of the mist and offers us sidra. He pours it with the bottle about two feet above the glass, trying to create the foam that is essential to enjoying the drink properly.
``Escanciar,'' he says, which sounds like escanso, or scant. I guess you're supposed to let scant drops foam up in the glass before you drink it.``Urin'' he says, meaning "drink." I can't find the cognate for that one.
True, Don Torribio used to own the place, Rogelio says, but he wasn't from here. He married the owner and they never had children. Rogelio's father was an administrator in the village, and Rogelio now lives in Gijon but bought the place recently for weekends. He now sells apples from the property to a sidra maker, and served us that very same cider he bought back from the producer.
We thank him and go off to see Sixto's children. Sixto was about 10 years older than Papa and knew him his whole life, going to the U.S. for awhile and working construction with him before going back. He died last year, after coming back from a walk with his son around their property. He had been in the hospital with breathing problems and knew something wasn't right. His closest relatives came to see him from Spain and America.
A couple of days before he died, his wife, Inez,
said, they had a traditional matanza, or pig slaughtering.
"Si muero manana, basta, estoy contento" he said before he died.
``He said `If I die tomorrow,it would be enough, I'm happy,''' she remembered. ``And he died.''

Posted by Alex at 11:36 AM
July 06, 2004
Lunch in Aguilar de Campoo

AGUILAR DE CAMPOO (PALENCIA) _ The raspy, lispish singer on the radio tells us flamenco ``no es coto privado, ni sociedad anonimo, before heading into a song entitled ``Gallego Calidades.
A strange choice considering there arent many flamenco singers or gypsies, which he sounds to be, in Galicia. Hes making a point about exclusion, I think, from private hunting reserves, cotos, and corporations, and feels kinship with rural Gallegos.

A woman with a reedy, belle canto voice sang earlier about preguntas and respuestos as I got used to the Mercedes van. The Europcar agent let us have the larger van for the same price because the Seat van we had reserved wasnt ready.
Lily, 8, and Andrea, 4, slept most ofthe day. Andrea entertained me at JFK by playing ``Touchy, Touchy, Touchy, a game in which she repeatedly poked my face, and when I went to stop her she placed my hands in various positions and told me not to move them for three weeks.
As we pass Burgos and head toward the mountains, I decide we have to stop in Aguilar de Campoo, simply because I cannot figure out what the name means. A resident says it has something to do the eagle on the heraldic shield of the castle perched above town.
No matter, the small town has a nice hotel and restaurant with tablecloths and waiters in black vest.
Andrea gets minestra, a plate of mixed stewed vegetables. Lily gets Pisto Manchego, which despite its name does not contain cheese. Rather, its sauteed vegetables served in an earthenware dish with a fried egg on top _ delicious. Robin gets paella, Lisa gets jamon and mushrooms in a cream sauce, and Papa gets gamba (shrimp) in a garlic sauce with gulas, tiny toothpick sized fish. I have a salad and dorada panadera _ a small whole roasted snapper type fish served with peppers, onions and thin-sliced potatoes with which it was cooked. The sauce, too plentiful to be pan drippings, reminded me of my mothers empanada filling.
With an 8.50 euro bottle of Albarinho, the whole meal was 79 euros.
Hotel Valentin, Anguilar de Campoo (Palencia)
A mix of styles is used to find our way into Avin that night.
Lisa has gone to MapQuest and printed out the directions. Unfortunately, they contain every left and right turn that must be taken, almost down to the parking lot at the airport. We settle on the time-honored method of following signs for big cities along the way and trying to stay on major highways. That works well until we get close and my father begins to employ the ask-the-old-timer approach. This method works well, except the old-timers only know the well-worn way along the small roads through each village.
``Avin? Oh, thats past Posada! one says.
``Avin? Carrenas? Five km to the turn, Carrenas is to the left, Avin is to the right, another says further along.
Eventually, we get close enough, recognize a local landmark and find Juans house.
The past winter has not been good for making sidra, bubbly, alcoholic apple cider.
``Temporada muy mala, a bad time, he says pointing to sediment that has collected near the cork in the three inverted bottles in his sink. He opens them upside down and lets a little cider shoot out before quickly righting the bottle.
He was right. The cider was a little brown, not bright straw colored as two years earlier, and the taste was not as crisp.
Cider making is a deceptively simple practice. Put the freshly squeezed cider in a wooden barrel in November. In March, put the cider into bottles. The longer its in the bottles, the more carbonation it gets. I guess the cider goes into the barrel at the end of November and into the bottles at the beginning of March because Juan says its a three-month process.
While the cider wasnt up to Juans standards, the chorizos were outstanding.
Mildly smoky and bright red from plenty of paprika. Outside the peacock he had two years ago is still there and his chickens cluck inside the small outbuilding.
Its as hilly as West Virginia, except dotted with stone houses with tile roofs _ some immaculately maintained, others crumbling, sometimes right next to each other. Fog from the ocean, just miles away, clings to the grey-green hills.
Were staying just up the hill at El Campu, Casa de Aldea, a small inn run by Juans niece and her husband.
Campu is the Asturiano way of saying campo, countryside, and aldea means little town.
Everything ends in ``u in Asturias _ ``que bonitu, comprelu I once overheard a boy say to his mother.

Posted by Alex at 07:16 PM
May 06, 2004
Fuches Tu? Life and laundry in the old days

MERA, Oleiros, La Coruna, Espana (JNS) _ Things are easier now, Rosario said,
eating an ice cream from the supermarket next door.
The store occupies the space where Eduardo once ran his huge, mostly empty cafe
bar in the bottom of one of the first blocks of condominiums to be built among the
small stone farmhouses.
He now runs a hardware store on the road to Santa Cruz, just past Xoes and
Cabreira, where my grandfather was from, a five minute walk away.
When I first came to visit, we would ask if there was anything we could get
Rosario when we drove to nearby towns. Now, she has it all next door.
Still, things were fun in the old days.
``We used to get together on Tuesday nights and all do the laundry,'' she said.
A stone and concrete washing trough still stands on the way to Espineiros,
the second beach over. Another stands in Canabal, fed by a spring people still
take water from, overlooking the wild crashing sea.
``We would sing while we were there and then all walk home together,'' Rosario said.
My mom still sings the songs.
``Fuches tu, fuches tu, fuches tu, que cago na payeira? Fuches tu, fuches
tu, fuches tu, pa que ainda levas a paja na cou,'' she sings.
``Was it you, was it you, was it you, who pooped in the straw. Was it you, was
it you, it was you, because you still have the straw in your butt.''

Posted by Alex at 12:24 AM
March 27, 2004
Plastic or People? Nexus, not Lexus can save the world

``It's all right if my clothes aren't new, out of sight because my heart is true,'' Stevie Wonder declared as El Conde soothed his bird.
Trumpets blare.
``I guess her folks brought her up that way ... No one is better than I, I know I'm just an average guy.''
El Conde considers the proper balance of life as the 30-year-old hit single _ ``Uptight, Out of Sight'' fades into the background.

``Birdie, are we here to accumulate plastic toys? No, but our economic model is successful,''' El Conde says, rolling an 8 1/4-lb granite cylinder between his fingers.
He has been exercising by walking to work with the cylinder, cored by a huge diamond studded drill bit for a drain in a sidewalk installed near his office. The marketplace that brought all these items together is a phenomenal accomplishment _ granite, perhaps from Portugal; industrial diamond dust from South Africa; workers from Central America unconcerned about the route to market.
The workers would rather be back where they came from, but everybody has to have something to trade _ if you don't, you have to go somewhere where they do. The rich also flee, giving up on trying to make things better at home.
Is this a discussion about leadership?
El Conde's parents and grandparents left, but they fled poverty, a Spain weakened by the United States they fled to, robbed of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam in the Spanish-American War _ the last vestiges of a great empire. But they never forgot, sent clothes and money back until they were no longer needed and visited once they could afford it, providing tourist dollars to the culture that once could not support them.
What can each of us do?
Hristo, the Bulgarian waiter and IT student, walks in. He is setting up a wireless network in Sofia.
``We have some customers, but we also have debt. We need to expand the network, but that costs more money,'' he says.
The slow process of building/rebuilding the homeland continues.
Thank you for the answer, Hristo. The answer is not the Lexus, its the nexus _ not forgetting those left behind.

Posted by Alex at 07:38 PM
December 26, 2003
O Conde Pai's first deer

We drove over the old wooden bridge by the railroad tracks down to Route 28, looking to see if the Shop-Rite might be open on Christmas Day to sell us a dozen clams for an appetizer.
Mostly we were just wasting time, driving around, waiting for the turkey and pork roast to be done.
The sign said Flemington was about 18 miles or so away.
``I got my first deer in Flemington, did I ever tell you? I dont think I did, Papa said.
He must have at one point, but I couldnt remember.

``It was on Ricardos farm. He let me sleep there for a couple of days when we went hunting, hell as long as I wanted, he didnt care.
``Frankie and I we posted in the morning and didnt see anything, so I said lets take a walk. I was walking along near the edge of the property and I saw a deer lying down and I shot it, he said.
A man then approached and started talking. My father said he didnt understand him too well because he hadnt been in the country that long.
``But the deer was a small buck and I think the horns had to be so long to take it because he was going like this with his hands, my father said, holding his thumb and index finger about three inches apart.
``So, I thought `Oh, oh, this might be trouble and told Frankie to go get Ricardo, and he takes off `Boom to get him. Next thing, Ricardo comes up, takes the gun from me, points it at the guy and says `Whats going on here? Get out of here you lousy Pollock! Didnt I say I never wanted to see you here again? Get out of here!
The guy left and Ricardo said not to worry about him. Ricardo wouldnt have shot him, my father said, ``but I was scared when he grabbed the gun from me.
Ricardo wanted to sell him the farm for $6,000 and a bigger piece nearby for $9,000, but no one wanted it, not my mother, not my aunts.
``He said `Alex its a good deal. And he meant it. But we had just came from the farm. They all said why do you want to do that again? And I had money, instead of buying it what did I do? I went out and bought a car, my father said looking at the half-million dollar plus houses that have sprung up since.
``I had chances, plenty of them, he said.
Not that he did bad, but the fisherman in him always lamented the ones that got away.
The brother of a friend of his, Elias, builds million dollar homes now, he said. In front of one, as a decoration, he put a canastro, also known as an horreo _ a type of crib used to store corn, millo in Gallego.
Later on we watch television as a French chef in Lyon makes crepes _ filloas in Gallego. The stovetop was a flat piece of stainless steel that was heated and the pans were placed on top for cooking.
``That was called La Economica. I guess because it was economical. You put wood in it and the top was flat like that, my father said. ``Not everybody had one. Some just had a fire on the floor and you put your pots over that _ lareda, we called it.

Posted by Alex at 03:26 AM
October 02, 2003
Shoreline octopus, closest thing to a free lunch

MERA, Oleiros, A Coruna, Espana (JNS) _ Theres no such thing as a free lunch, you had to walk out onto into the cold water pull the octopus from between the rocks.
``Thats how he would do it, my mother said remembering a meal provided by her cousin, Tono during her 1956 honeymoon.
``He would say `vo buscar o pulpo _ (Im going to look for octopus) and he would pull it from between the rocks, bite it on the neck (to kill it) and bring it home, Ma said.

``Tono, hes Manolos brother, Ma said.
``Thats short for Antonio, hes tio Juan Antonios son, he was married to Felicidad, Abuelas sister, she continued, diverging into a family history.

``He was fixing up a house in Cabreira that was his wifes mothers house, she said. ``Her name was Patela, that wasnt her real name, but they gave everybody a name. It had something to do with the leg, that wasnt a very nice name.

``Anyhow, she would say `Vai buscar o pulpo and he would and hed go down and get the octopus and bite it and bring it home for lunch, well, not for lunch, but the afternoon meal.
``I dont know now, I doubt if they have so much
with all the building that's going on.''
Boiling is the best way to cook it, although Abuela sometimes stewed it, sometimes put it into empanada. For boiling, about an hour is good, but the octopus has to be lowered into and pulled out of the pot three times before its put in for good. Nowadays, everyone says an octopus that has been frozen is more tender because the freezing and thawing helps break down the muscle fiber.
At festivals, a big copper pot over a wood fire is used. Once its done boiling (when a tooth pick comes out easily), it's cut with shears into pieces and served on wood plates dressed with olive oil, sea salt, paprika, hot pepper and raw garlic.
``They used to sing all those songs at the festivals. `Na veira do mar, ay moito que ver. Baile de punto de pie, baile se quieres bailar, Ma said.
Directly translated: ``On the edge of the sea, there is much to see. Dance on the point of your foot, dance if you want to dance.

Posted by Alex at 05:04 PM
January 30, 2003
Leisure and lament in Santa Barbara

By Alex Dominguez
From the No looking back dept.

Meanwhile back at the ranch in Orange County, the days fall into an easy rhythm now that the future has been decided.
Wake early, take a walk on the nearby nature trail _ where a stone marker commemorates the 1768 Viaje de Portola, the first overland expedition into California by Europeans. Maybe a swim at the neighborhood pool, or a stroll to the golf course, where it costs $100 to play a round, but just $6 to drive a bucket of golf balls.

Lunch is a mixture of Spanish, American, Mexican, Italian and barbecue. More fish tacos, sometimes made with scolpin (a reddish blowfish with poisonous fins that tastes like monkfish) and perch, both caught on a party boat outing. Osso buco one night, and the next afternoon we create bucadillas _ quesadillas made on the grill with the left over veal from the osso buco.
Guacamole is a fun sidedish and the subject of heated debate – how much lime? Do we add garlic?, cheese?, jalapeno?
We break the routine with a trip to Santa Barbara _ a Spanish colonial jewel 100 miles north of Los Angeles. The carpool lane on ``the 5’’ is a lifesaver until it ends in LA.
In Santa Barbara, we find shellfish reminiscent of Galicia, and a sense of community _ albeit a bit patchouli laden _ that seems lacking in hyper-suburban Orange County.
A 6 lb. spider crab ($50), similar to Alaskan king crab or the Galician centola, is selected for lunch at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. on Stearman Wharf. The same crab would be $15 at the market in Galicia, but not prepared and cracked for us. The crab is fresh and delicious and more than enough for the two of us.
And what does it matter with the endorsements rolling in?
We stroll through the farmer’s market, which is held every Tuesday on State St., the heart of the downtown shopping district, inspecting the local produce _ organic oranges, enormous strawberries, and an irregular shaped green vegetable called a cherimoy.
We also stroll into an interesting store, oddly named Cost Plus World Market, where couches and other furniture, wine, housewares, oils, condiments, kitchen supplies, and barbecue equipment are sold under one roof. Back out onto State St., we stroll past what appears to be an immense tile-roofed church that has been converted into a Macy’s, and then head back to our hotel, the Mason Beach Inn (324 W. Mason St., $59 double) to rest for dinner.
Shellfish reminiscent of Galicia appear again that night at a Piranha, a trendy sushi restaurant, where sea urchin, erizo in Spanish, is served in cups made from lemons ($12.95 for two heaping tablespoons). Scallops, vieiras in Gallego, are also on the menu.
``But no navajas (razor clams)’’ the Count thinks.
All such thoughts, however, evaporate like the smoke used to make the succulent smoked scallop nigiri that ends the meal.
The next morning, it’s off to the Santa Barbara mission, where we learn that two distinct forces drove the colonization of California by the Spanish, evangelization and concerns over the encroachment of Russian settlements further north.
The Spanish, needing citizens to fuel growth of the empire, gave the native Indians citizenship and deeded them their land, hoping to make them Christian contributors to the empire.
The missionaries were successful on both fronts, most of the native Chumas Indians converted and the the Franciscans oversaw the construction of a dam and aqueduct system to irrigate fields of wheat, barley, corn, beans and peas, as well as citrus and olive orchards and vineyards. In 1803, 11,121 sheep were counted, and in 1809, 5,200 head of cattle.
All of that ended when Mexico broke from Spain after Napoleon invaded the Iberian Peninsula. The missions were confiscated, and after the U.S. took over the territory, Indians were allowed to be shot on sight because they were considered hostile.
In the mission cemetery, we find a marker commemorating Don Jose Franciso de Ortega (1734-1798), chief scout for Gaspar de Portola, who established the Presidio at Santa Barbara, where he was commandant from 1781-1784. Inside, the tools used by the missionaries and Indians are on display _ my father notes the horse-drawn plow, or arado, which he used in his youth, is assembled incorrectly.
Inspired by the adventurous spirit of the missionaries, we lunch at the Taqueria la Gloria, 336 N. Milpas St., where $1.89 tacos are served on the white styrofoam trays that meat is packaged in at the supermarket.
We order tacos with carnitas (a roasted and fried port), carne asada (roasted beef) and buche (pan fried pork stomach). Also available was cow tongue, and birria de chivo (marinated goat). Non-tacos include huarache (fried corn meal dough topped with your choice of toppings), mojarra (a fried fish), and ceviche.

FYI: If you want to stay someplace fancier, try the Hotel Santa Barbara, 533 State St., which is right on the heart of the shopping district. Rooms were running between $119 and $199 when we checked, but run higher at peak times. There are also a number of nice hotels along the beach.

Posted by Alex at 06:34 PM
July 28, 2002
Sympathy for the little guy

By Alex Dominguez
from the truth, justice and the Gallego way dept.
MERA (Oleiros, La Corua) Espaa (JNS) _ On the radio, the socialists in Congress urge conservative president Jose Maria Aznar to return relations with Morocco to normal as soon as possible following that mornings retaking of an island the size of two football fields. Spain has much invested in the advancement of Morocco, they warn.

In the fashionable beach town of Sta. Cristina ``Palestina Vencera! (Palestine will win!) and ``Galiza Nova screams out from a 6-foot by 2-foot stencil on the temporary masonry block wall of an unoccupied bajo _ the term for a commercial space in the bottom of a condominium building.

Nationalism pervades, but so does a sense of fairness and sympathy for the little guy in the region which has seen waves of emigrants, and now immigrants. A nearby park has a monument to Jose Marti, the national hero of Cuba, with phrases in Gallego etched on the sides of the monument.

_ ``Nada fatiga como repouso, ``Nothing tires like rest.

_ ``Trincheira de ideas vale mais que trincheiras de pedras, ``Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stone.

_ ``Patria e humanidade e preferable o ben de moitos a opulencia de poucos, ``Homeland and Humanity _ the good of many is preferable to the opulence of the few.

A columnist tells in the morning paper how his father, as a student, tried to hide in the hills during the Civil War. Franco was from Galicia, but there was also sympathy for the plight of those tied to the land. The war dragged on, and he was captured and sent to dig trenches on the front. He was wounded working for an army whose cause he didnt support and still blames himself for not fighting for the democratic Republicans, the columnist says.

The man who lived across from Rosario, growing potatoes until he died last year, also harbored regrets.

``El plan de Marshall, el plan de Marshall, he could be heard saying derisively.

Spain did not receive any Marshall Plan funding after World War II _ Germany started the war, and received aid, but Spain was still under fascist rule. The WWII years were filled with hunger for many as the country recovered from the Civil War of the late 30s, and many were bitter when aid did not arrive when the war in the rest of Europe ended.

Rosarios mother never spoke of politics. It has been more than a year since Feliza died at age 97, and the memories are still fresh for Rosario of those last few months _ the end of 24 years taking care of her.

She still had a good appetite until she died in her chair by the stove and the window on an April day.

Feliza asked for everyone, alive and dead, at times, even though the two had lived by themselves for years.

``Grito un noite pa a dua de la madruga. `Sto moriendo do fame, fai me un par de huevos, Rosario remembers.

(She cried out one night, about two in the morning. `Im dying of hunger, make me a pair of eggs.)

``Ti vais a despertir a todos, (youre going to wake everyone up) she told her mother.

``Ben, fai me un par de huevos.

Posted by Alex at 11:52 PM
April 27, 2002
Real scientists confirm JNS report: Bread a pernicious narcotic

By Alex Dominguez on Saturday April 27, @09:21PM
from the what did I tell you? dept.
BALTIMORE (JNS) _ You heard it here first folks, Swedish researchers have confirmed what the Jabali News Service first reported in November _ bread is a dangerous uncontrolled substance.

Cancer-causing agents known as acrylamides form when bread is baked, the Swedish National Food Administration reported Tuesday.

``The discovery that acrylamide is formed during the preparation of food ... is new knowledge, said researcher Leif Busk.

Acrylamide could be responsible for hundreds of Swedens 45,000 cancer cases each year, the researchers said.

The report follows the November announcement by researchers at the Hanoi-based Mekong Delta Institute that bread is actually an addictive, pernicious narcotic.

The study of 15,000 adult males over four years in six Western European countries found more than 99 percent were addicted to various forms of highly processed, fermented wheat.

While long used in its less dangerous whole form by indigenous tribes who cultivated small plots for personal consumption, the cultivation, processing and marketing of bleached, refined wheat is now controlled by several huge cartels.

Among their findings:

_ Half of all bread eaters score below average on standardized tests.

_ 95 percent of all crimes occur within a day of eating bread.

_ Most addicts feed their habits three-to-four times daily, leaving little time to do anything other than sleep off their fix.

In addition to violent behavior, long-term use can lead to obesity, diabetes, lethargy, brain damage and fetishism, particularly a fascination with the female breast.

The study was funded by the Kato Institute, a joint program of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, the Pan-Vietnamese Economic Development Corporation and Uncle Ben's.

Posted by Alex at 09:21 AM
March 14, 2002
Quantum blink insurance now available

By Alex Dominguez
from the could happen dept.

WAXAHACHIE, Texas (JNS) _ A coalition of insurers has formed a partnership to provide so-called ``quantum blink'' coverage.

The coverage will protect business and home owners against the possibility the universe could blink out of existence if all of its quantum particles aligned.

While unlikely, the possibility exists, and scientists need to learn more, researchers at the Superconducting Supercollider Institute reported last week.

``Such a quantum blink would be catastrophic,'' lead researcher Lorentz Heisenberg said. ``We owe it to ourselves to learn more about this.''

SSI is seeking $14 billion to construct a massive supercollider to study that possibility as well as other areas of particle physics.

The smallest particles of matter are known to blink in and out of existence, transferring back-and-forth from energy to matter. If all the particles in the universe made the switch at the same time, life as we know it would end in an instantaneous fireball similar to the Big Bang that is believed to have created the universe.

Researchers have been toying for years with the spooky rules of quantum mechanics, prompting particles to jump from various states as they are observed by the outside world.

The mechanics of the transfer from matter to energy are unknown, but it holds the promise of unlimited energy and unbridled disaster if such a reaction ever ran astray, Heisenberg said.

A smaller blink may have responsible for 1908 Tunguska blast in Siberia that leveled trees for miles. Current quantum physics research also raises the possibility of an accidental blink, said Damian Rhee, a spokesman for Continental Insurance.

``You can never be too sure,'' Rhee said. ``Our policy will give you peace of mind.''

Posted by Alex at 09:40 AM
December 25, 2001
A gift for someone not on the shopping list

By Alex Dominguez on Tuesday December 25, @10:20PM
from the yes, it really happened dept.

Deciding what to give the sly fox for Christmas was not difficult.
Deciding whether it was enough was more difficult.

Coming home from a Christmas Day walk with my father in the swampy stretch near his home that we have always called ``the sandpit, I heard a rustling in the reeds.

``Wait, I said.

``Mira, I added, pointing to a flash of fur about 10 yards off the side of the trail. ``A deer?

``No , he said. ``It looks like a fox.

I walked up closer and sure enough, it was a fox _ trapped.

``Watch out, it could have rabies.

``Dont worry, Ill throw my coat over it, I said, tossing the puffy nylon jacket over its head.

The fox scampered from underneath as I tried to see how it was trapped. Looking at each paw, I saw all four were free. Its tail had all of the fur missing from one section and it had a nasty cut next to its eyeball, but both eyes appeared normal.

The thin steel cable led from the tree to the foxs neck and I finally deduced he had stuck his head into a loop, placed by a trapper, that tightened as he tried to escape.

I threw my jacket over him again, grabbed him around the neck and squatted over his body to still him, thinking how my friends who trapped back in the '70s were paid $75 for a red fox pelt. The fox didnt make any noise.

``I dont think hes going to bite, I said.

``Give me some slack. Its stuck, we might have to cut it, my father said.

``Let me give you some more, I think itll come out, I said.

The noose came off, and as I stood up, I thought about what to do. The cut on the foxs eye was pretty bad, and he was thin. But a wild animal probably wont take help that easily, and carrying him home wrapped in a jacket would be difficult, even if he was fairly docile.

By the time I stood up, I let him go and watched as he ran six or seven feet before cutting up a trail.

``That's not right, trappers are supposed to check every day,'' my father said taking the loop from the tree.

That was the most I could have done, I hope, I thought, looking at the blood on the inside of my jacket.

Its always that way.

What should I do? Is an occasional free meal to the homeless guy enough? Will more help? Or should I try to make him help himself more?

In the season of giving, what to give is always difficult.

Posted by Alex at 10:20 PM
December 01, 2001
Mark Abernathy: He made Fells Point a better place to live

By Alex Dominguez
from the man's humanity to man dept.

I drove into Fells Point for the first time in March of 1989, parking a 1979 Ford Bronco, complete with jumping bass decals and U-Haul trailer in tow, on the cobblestones outside of Berthas.

``Ill have a beer, ask about the neighborhood, I thought, sunlight streaming past grey clouds scudding over tugboats at the end of the block.

``What can I get you, the t-shirted, curly-haired young bartender said, stopping his discussion for a minute.

``I dont know, whats this Oxford Class, is it English? I said, picking one from the dozen taps.

``I think its made in Glen Burnie, he said, dispelling any pretense.

``Where is that, Scotland?

``No, its in Anne Arundel County, he said, looking down and stopping to let me hear his constrained ``hee-yeh kind of laugh for the first time. ``Yeah, its near the moors of Linthicum.

The joke wasnt on me, he was laughing with me, realizing I wasnt from the area.

I drank my beer, he resumed his conversation with Dan about some bar overlooking a river somewhere, and what a deal it would be if either one of them owned it. The discussion shifted, a question came up, and Mark _ unwilling to suffer a barroom discussion between the uninformed _ pulled down a dictionary to find the answer.

``A bar with a dictionary, this is a place I can handle, I said.

I didnt realize he was only 19 or 20 at the time. He made me feel like there was a reason to move to the neighborhood. While others said they were reading Jack Kerouac, we lived on the waterfront with the bums and tugboat crews.

His sister, Karen, bartended more often than he did, commanding attention with her long dark hair and bracelets that covered half her forearms. A negative word hardly came from Marks mouth as he sat on the customer side and we all soaked in what we had discovered _ the mix of art students, drunks who had plied the streets for too long, longtime residents being slowly priced out of their neighborhood, and recent graduates amazed that their college days werent over in Fells Point, they just had to go to work instead of class.

I soaked in the beer and the liquor and the scene for years. Mark was always there. I bought a building, built a coffee shop, and he came in to get coffee, a sandwich and cigarettes on the way to see his sister, or the boat he had moved onto, or the job he got making beer.

Mark fell off the boat and drowned as Thanksgiving turned into Black Friday. I dont know why.

Id like to think theres a reason. His new job would have taken him to northern Virginia, that obviously wasnt to be. We remain behind, saddened by his loss and thankful for what he brought us.

Posted by Alex at 01:02 AM
November 18, 2001
Random people walk into Jabali

By Pete Carlson on Sunday November 18, @09:19PM
from the It must be a conspiracy dept.

Shortly after 8 Pm last night, a group of random people walked into the heart of the Jabali Empire demanding to be allowed to watch the Simpsons. This transpired shortly after The Emperor commented on the lack of random women in the Jabali as of late. The amazing timing suggests the shadow government at work in a desperate attempt to distract the Jabali from uncovering whatever conspiracy they must have been about to uncover.

Posted by Alex at 09:19 AM
June 22, 2001
Almodovar's ``Reconquering Cuba'' _ Stunning tour-de-force

Posted by Antonio Banderas on Friday June 22, @11:58PM

from the pipedream school of journalism dept.

Dear Readers:
Since some film studios have taken it upon themselves to invent reviewers to provide fake blurbs about their films, we here at the Jabali News Service _ keeping in line with our news mission _ have decided to review films that don't exist, but probably should.

Almodovar's ``Reconquering Cuba''

A stunning tour-de-force

Alex Dominguez: Jabali News Service

With this tightly-crafted tale of mystical realism, Pedro Almodovar, Spain's most well-known director, has produced his best film to date.

Penelope Cruz stars as the heiress to a Cuban rum fortune who suffers the Castro regime, feigning loyalty to the dictator's communist ideals, all the while seeking to change the system from within.

After years of struggle, she begins to lose hope, but the visit of Pope John Paul II provides her with an opportunity to get close to Castro, and she convinces him to return the country to Spain, citing the example of fascist Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who restored the monarchy and created an economic miracle.

Cruz succeeds by playing to Castro's enmity toward the United States, his fond memories of his father's tales of his childhoold in Spain's lush, green Galicia region, and his desire to aid the Cuban people.

Joaquin Phoenix and Luciano Pavarotti are respectable in the roles of the younger and older Castros. The scenes of Cuba are beautiful and the music transcends the standard Buena Vista Social Club fare.

Posted by Alex at 11:58 PM
June 10, 2001
Rage against the film machine!!!!

Posted by El Conde on Sunday June 10, @09:09AM
from the these are my choices? dept.

How much longer will we keep digesting ``Moulin Rouge and other pap and pretending its relevant, or worse accept its as our pop culture signposts.
Surely, the emergence of the Internet and other new media should free us, finally, of the hegemony of the tired minds of Los Angeles and New York so we can stop looking back to Paris and London of the 1890s.

Oooh, pointillism. I get it. Im so smart.

What Im really trying to say here is every time you pay $6 or $8 to watch that crap you help keep this mindset alive.

The only way to stop the madness is to stop supporting it, just like the so-called war on drugs. The day affluent suburban white kids stop buying LSD, cocaine and marijuana is the day innocent 3-year-olds, police officers and Third World peasants stop dying at the hands of the drug industry.

Even without the Internet, there are better choices out there.

Why doesnt someone ask Gary Trudeau make a cartoon movie?

Id much rather hear his characters chat about why you cant hang your laundry on a clothesline in an LA suburb to save energy than watch Nicole Kidman put on some cheesy burlesque outfit.

Posted by Alex at 09:09 AM
June 02, 2001
Jorge's Wedding

Posted by El Conde on Saturday June 02, @04:53PM
from the Another one bites the dust dept.
Jorge was running behind on the wedding planning when the Count called him from just outside Merida, about an hour from Badajoz. So, Jorge asked if he could meet him later that day at the Hotel Cervantes(3600 pts/$19 a day), a small 3-story, old school hotel in the heart of the Badajozs old section.
As El Conde climbed the winding stairway to his room, he admired the thick marble floors and looked down upon the two-story, couch-lined atrium which has kept guests cool since long before air conditioning was invented.

Most of the guests had already arrived and El Conde quickly summised it was a case of hurry-up-and-wait.

Many were from Minneapolis by way of North Dakota - a lively crowd well-versed in the arts, sciences and history - and appreciative of the count's translation skills.

Jason, a buzz-cut, artsy type, immediately remarked about the predominance of women wearing tight pants, or pantalones apretadas, (stuffed pants) as we later learned.

Women apparently are willing to show off their physique, even if it wasn't as shapely as it once had been.

"Si lo tiene, muestra lo," "If you have it, flaunt it," the count told the guests. "Y, si no tiene, muestra."

That quickly became a key phrase.

The plan for the bachelor party, as devised by the women, was to go our separate ways for dinner and meet afterward at a club that was reserved for our party. The plan developed by Jorges friends apparently was to not have a plan. The latter won out.

Most of the men waited outside the hotel for at least an hour for Jorge to come show us where to go. After a while, El Conde wandered into the neighborhood bar and wound up entertaining the handful of men watching soccer.

``Seis canas, or ``six tap beers, El Condes asked.

After serving the group, the bartender asked where the count was from, and he replied Baltimore.

After much discussion, it was determined that the count was from Baltimore, one team was from Valencia and the other from Munich. ``Si, si, soy hijo de Gallegos, pero ahora soy el Conde de Baltimore, the count said, ``Yes, yes, I am the son of Gallegos, but now I am the Count of Baltimore.''

``Oh, muy bien, Conde, or ``Oh, very good, Count,'' one replied.

It was too late by the time the group got to where we planned to eat, so we keep on snacking at each place, eventually stopping for what seemed like a never ending train of ham, cured pork tenderloin, cheese and beer at one place where Jorge mysteriously disappeared - before heading and meeting him at another.

Several hours, Cuban cigars and stiff Havana Club rums later, Jorges cousin Paco decided we should head to one final place outside of town.

It appeared to be a normal strip club from the outside, but once inside none of the girls were dancing, and there was no stage. The women _ hailing from all over the world: Africa, Eastern Europe, Brasil, Portugal, Jamaica _ immediately set upon the group, grabbing them and chatting amongst themselves.

``So, how does this work? Do we give them dollars to dance? one American asked as one of the women proceeded to grab his crotch.

``I think you negotiate for what you want, and then you do it, the count said.

Jorge had his tie taken off and tied around his eyes while he was led by one of the women around the bar, at times by his hand, while the others did their best to learn Spanish.

The next morning El Conde awoke after three hours of sleep by the sound of traffic and church bells. Stopping into a small market for water and a snack, a man asked ``Como fue la fiesta.

Realizing it was one of the soccer fans from the night before, he replied ``resaca, (hangover).

We saw Paco again that next night following the rehearsal dinner at a nearby golf club. We stopped by a hip bar near the bull-fighting club where marijuana was openly smoked. We learned that personal use is not a crime in Spain _ a libertarians dream.

Personal responsibility is a well-defined concept in Spain, El Conde remarked.

Drinking, even in the morning is not looked down upon. If someone wants a little cognac in his espresso, or alongside, why should anyone care? Someone who is not able to handle liquor, however, and becomes a nuisance is not well received.

Inspired, Trent _ a former college wrestler with a hint of cauliflower ear _ wrote ``Me gusta los pantalones apretados on a dollar bill and gave it to the bartender to display in a glass case built into the bar.

Miguel, a relative of Paco, meanwhile, became increasingly more annoying constantly saying ``Espana, Asturias Espana, Asturias He also mentioned he liked the United States, but couldnt contain his intense nationalism or regionalism.

We soon realized that Miguel was not all there, but Paco brought him along so he wouldnt be alone after work.

We left about 5:30 a.m., hoping to get some sleep before left at noon for Caceres.

``God, was he annoying, someone said.

``Yeah, but they refuse to institutionalize their kids, El Conde said.

``You have to speak the truth, dont you, Trent said as the sun began to come up, highlighting the storks nest that had been built on the small tower jutting from the corner of our hotel.

El Conde awoke in a haze again, this time about 10:30 because he had remembered to set the alarm and was able to ignore the street noise.

After walking to the Plaza Espana to find out what time they were leaving, and what time the wedding would be held, El Conde was relieved to learn he did not have to dress until that evening. Leaving the Cafe Victoria, El Conde averted his eyes, hoping to avoid contact with the gypsy beggars outside, especially the one whose forearm took a 30-degree turn just before the wrist from what appeared to be a very poorly set fracture.

Buying a bag of cookies on the way back for breakfast, he loaded up his car and checked out, taking one of brides friends along for company on the ride.

Hoping to avoid the debacle of two nights earlier when no one knwe how to get anywhere (``Save yourselves!), El Conde obtained detailed instructions on the location of the hotel in Caceres. The entourage then headed off and two hours later checked into the Hotel Caceres Golf (9,500 pesetas, or about $50 a night) a luxurious and apparently underutilized golf course complex. The wedding party stayed in adjoining bungalow rooms overlooking the well-groomed course a mile from the center of the city.

The wedding was to be held another mile or so up the road, heading away from the city, at a renovated castle.

The ceremony, complete with Catholic mass, took place as the sun set, casting a shadow of a lone palm tree against the castle wall behind the temporary altar. Sherry and tapas were then served outside the castle wall until fireworks announced it was time for dinner _ seafood bisque, a smoke fish salad, and grilled pork.

Flamenco dancers strolled out after dinner to begin the dancing, which lasted until 5 a.m. when hot chocolate was served. "Tenia miedo que el Papa y Juan Carlos van a servir el cafe," or "I was afraid the Pope and King Juan Carlos were going to serve the coffee," the Count told Jorge as they parted company two days later.

After Jorge showed El Conde the way to the main highway, he made the two-hour, 400 km trip into Madrid in his luxury driving machine, stopping along the way to buy some cutlery and wine sacks, known as botas.

Arriving in Madrid, the Count checked into the luxurious Hostal Alicante (5,000 pts) on the Calle Arenal. He then stopped in an Asturian restaurant where had a vieira (broiled whole scallop in the shell topped with a red pepper puree), a piece of empanada (a savory pie stuffed with a sauteed mixture of bonito, red pepper and onions), cherries served in a bowl of cold water, and an espresso.

Fortified, the Count was able to resume his search for a restaurant for that evening's meal.

"That's a nice turbot (large flounder), but the eye is a little sunken," he thought, looking in the window of a restaurant and remembering what had told the wedding guests a few days earlier.

"Look for a restaurant that displays its fish in a refrigerated case in the window," he told one of the guests. "That way, you can see exactly they have, how fresh it is, and their artistic ability at displaying food."

Stopping back at his room to change and rest before dinner, El Conde realized he was too fatigued and still not hungry following his large snack and decided to skip dinner on his last night in Madrid, deciding discretion was the better part of valor.

Posted by Alex at 04:53 PM
September 17, 2000
The Count’s Iberian Lifestyle Plan

Posted by Washington Irving on Sunday September 17, @06:47PM

from the Live Like a Noble Diet dept.

By Alejandro Antonio Andres Dominguez y Rios
El Conde de Baltimore

and Washington Irving


Alejandro Antonio Andres Dominguez y Rios, better known to most as ``El Conde de Baltimore,’’ has been gracious enough to allow us to peer into his private life for this book on healthy living.

The Count hopes that his example will help others lead healthier lives.

At this point, I would also like to express my appreciation to the Count for allowing me to help him write this book, which I am sure will be a guide to many for years to come.


Washington Irving

Chapter 1

The Morning

Alarm clocks should never be used. The body must awaken naturally and of its own desire. Window shades, however, can be left open to allow the morning light to stream in and gently alert the body that the day has begun, thus instilling a natural schedule.

As the body is in a bit of shock from having risen from slumber, a large breakfast is usually not recommended, but rather a simple cup of coffee, preferably a double espresso, with or without steamed milk, and sugar to taste. A glass of hand-squeezed orange juice, or a mineral water, or both are also beneficial for replenishing fluids lost while sleeping, and to pass the time while perusing the morning papers.

Thus fortified, the Count often likes to head to market to inspect the produce, meat, fish, shellfish, and cheeses available that day. After choosing the items for the mid-day meal, and having them sent ahead, a small snack is usually in order for the activity has now given the body need for sustenance.

While some prefer sweet items such as churros and chocolate, deep-fried doughnut-like sticks which are dipped into an extremely thick hot chocolate, the Count prefers more toothsome fare such as empanada, large thin pie-like tarts stuffed with roast pork bits, onions and peppers, or bacalao (codfish), or even octopus or berberechos (small tasty clams). Other choices often include Spanish tortilla, a potato and egg torte similar to an Italian fritata, or pan tostada Catalan, toasted country bread slices topped with olive oil, crushed fresh tomato and small thin pieces of sliced ham, preferably pata negra, or black leg hogs, and preferably only those which primarily graze on bellotas, a type of acorn produced by encina trees.

Chapter 2.

Before the Mid-day Meal

While waiting for lunch to be prepared, it is often a good idea to relax, perhaps on a beach, or take care of banking, or other small chores. If so inclined, a small vermouth, white wine or beer is often taken.

Chapter 3.

The Mid-day Meal

In Galicia, the verb for eating the mid-day meal is jantar, which is often followed by the verb deitar, which means the act of resting or sleeping after the mid-day meal. Whether to sleep, lie down, merely rest or not rest at all following the mid-day meal is a subject of much debate. The Count prefers to make the mid-day meal his largest of the day, preferably several courses over an hour or two, followed by a nap, or merely a rest period, and then coffee and a cigar, sometimes with brandy.

The menu, as you would imagine varies considerably, but often starts with small foods such as gambas, or small shrimp, or chicharrones, minced roast pork, or ham, olives, etc. The main course is often served with a salad or other vegetable. During summer months, many foods are grilled over wood.

After the main course, cheese and fruit and are often served. The courses, however, do not follow lock-step one after another, but often are interrupted for a short walk around the yard to feed scraps to the hens and quail, which the Count is fond of raising, and of course eating. Sometimes, coffee and cigars are served immediately after the last course, often outside under a grapevine arbor.

Chapter 4.


After resting for an hour or so, the Count often likes to read, shop for leather goods, take a short swim, or take care of small chores before stopping at his favorite local tavern for merende. The tradition of merende is the least understood of all the Iberian dietary customs.

Merende traditionally refers to the period halfway between the mid-day meal and the evening meal, or cena, and often consists of small snacks eaten along with drinks while chatting with friends after work, but before going home for dinner.

The dishes eaten often include pimientos de Padron _ small, sometimes hot, green peppers fried in olive oil (which is never re-used) and sprinkled with sea salt; boiled octopus dressed with extra virgin olive oil, paprika and sea salt; sliced ham; sausages; cheese; mussels in a variety of ways; broiled live, whole scallops in their shell topped with ham or bacon and red pepper puree. The Spanish also are not squeamish about organ meats such as liver, gizzards, or even boiled pigs ears, which are cut into small pieces and dressed with oil and paprika, etc. Small fish such as anchovies are also pickled escabeche style in vinegar, sometimes with with parsley and onion, and served with sliced bread. Various types of squid _ calamares, chipirones, sepias, etc. _ are also served stewed with potatoes and peas, stewed in their own ink, breaded and fried, grilled, etc.

Chapter 5.


Dinner is often quite late in Spain, often starting around 11 p.m., and usually much lighter than lunch. The Count is quite fond of veal chops grilled over wood or merluza or other white fish a la plancha, which is to say seared on a griddle. Red wines are often served at dinner, especially with meats, however, whites are sometimes paired with items such as grilled pork ribs, which are cut into individual ribs so each piece absorbs the flavor of the smoke.

The Count is not especially fond of desserts, and usually never partakes of them. If, however, his dining companion desires ice cream, for example, he will politely try some. Dinners are followed by coffee, and sometimes by brandy or an after dinner liquor such as Fernet Branco, often paired with a cigar. Whether or not the Count chooses to go elsewhere after dinner often affects his menu choices for the following day.

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Posted by Alex at 06:17 PM
September 10, 2000
Eatboys Settle Into Much Deserved Obscurity

Posted by Skeptic on Sunday September 10, @11:43AM

from the it's-about-damn-time dept.

One may have guessed by the news of the last few weeks that gastronomic exploits of international eatboys, the Count of Baltimore and his depraved associate Lord Cecil of Dundalk, constituted all the news that was fit to print. Thankfully the pair have sunk into obscurity, perhaps through the somnolescent effects of pork fat in the blood stream. To those brave pigs that gave their lives that the eatboys might slumber, and the rest of us might be rid of their stories of failure as international playboys, we salute you!

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Posted by Alex at 11:43 AM
September 05, 2000
For Whom the Veal Grills

MERA (Oleiros, La Coruna), Espana (JNS) _ Jose ``El Chuleteiro Fernandez Veiras is surely the greatest churrasqueiro alive in Spain today.

Others may claim greater showmanship in front of the parrillada, hail from the fincas of Extremadura, or pride themselves on their repetoire.

``El Chuleteiro, however, has an innate understanding of churrasco, the art of grilling ``que suena,or in English, resonates, in the hearts of Spaniards as much as futbol (soccer), seafood, political discussions, and bad television

With a style reminiscent of Joao ``Frango Carbon, ``El Chuleteiro could reign over the chop houses of Madrid, commanding the salary of a renown bullfighter. He chooses, however, to deliberately practice his art at his own small restaurant, ``A Lanchia, in the small Galician town of Mera, across the bay from the city of La Corua.

While the region is primarily known for its excellent shellfish, it is also home to the countrys finest grass-fed, free-range veal and excellent hogs. Unlike American veal calves, which are kept in pens for six months and fed milk, vitamins and hormones, Galician calves live longer and are raised alongside their mothers on small grassy plots in the hilly, green region, usually raised on family-run farms.

Churrasco can be an ecstatic, almost religious, experience or a tragedy for the churrasqueiro and the customer, as anyone who has been subjected to ``La Rosa Negra, or black-and-pink chicken, can attest.

Properly done, its a three-part act consisting of the lume da lea, a flaming wood fire, which creates the brasas, or glowing coals, which in turn, cooks the meat, creating the carne asado.

The meat must leave the grill, or parrillada, golden brown on the outside and slightly pink on the inside _ whether it is veal or pork. Chicken should be cooked through, but remain moist. All should be liberally salted to bring out the meats natural flavor. Sauces, marinades and rubs are only used by those trying to disguise inferior meat.

The meat must become intimate with the coals and bask in their glow. Flame, however, is fatal to churrasqueiros themselves and to their reputations.

Ignacio ``Nacho Solomillo was one who succumbed to the llamas, or flames. A spectacular regional churrascero, as they are called in some regions, he made a name for himself in Madrid in the 20s, developing the now famous `pasadoble style in which the meat is turned only once, thus passing just twice over the coals. Nacho knew instinctively when to turn the meat, sensing with his tongs how each piece tightened as it cooked.

His career unraveled during a dinner for a group of nobles in 1924. He overextended himself, agreeing to their request to serve more than he knew his grill could accommodate.

All went well at first as the pork ribs and veal chops, chuletos, were placed over the coals. Flames, however, erupted as grease began to drip and he had no place to move the meat as the grill was full. As the meat began to blacken, he worked furiously until a support collapsed, plunging the meat into the coals and burning Nacho as he tried to save the dinner and his reputation.

Broken, he moved to the United States, where it is rumored that he invented the corn chip after opening a Mexican restaurant.

``El Chuleteiro uses the pasadoble style, which he says he learned from Nachos son, ``Nachito, a competent churrasqueiro who never achieved his fathers greatness.

``El Chuleteiro, does not use the traditional team of handlers _ carniceros, camareros, and the like _ using one waiter and one prep chef. He buys the meat himself, insisting on regionally produced livestock and designs and maintains his own grill.

``There are many grills and styles all over Spain, and there are many bad ones. But you will not find another like this, he says.

The parrillada is a simple, elegant design _ v-shaped stainless steel angle iron pieces about three feet long set about a half inch apart into two cross members which have v-shapped notches to accept the angle iron and form the grill.

Any grease from the meat is caught in the hollow of the v-shape and funneled away because the grill is tilted by means of chains that suspend it from the brick chimney above.

Churrasco, to be sure, is not the only means of grilling. Many swear by method used around Malaga in the south, where discarded rowboats are placed on sawhorses, filled with sand and bonfires are built on the sand. Skewers of whole fish, or whole red peppers, or cubes of meat are then stabbed into the sand alongside the fire, allowing the food to cook by the radiant heat of the coals and not the flames.

Others prefer sardines, which grow to more than six inches in Galicia, carefully tended over a flaming wood fire.

None, however, compare to the mastery of wood, heat and meat of ``El Chuleteiro.

If you go, seat yourself quickly and dont order too much. Good churrasco should be enjoyed and not forced upon yourself.

``Ainda sta fallando? Boteche ali, xa sta feito! he says as we discuss his art at the bar, asking us in the regional dialect, Gallego, if we are still talking and telling us to ``put yourselves over there. Its ready!

Posted by Alex at 04:49 AM
September 04, 2000
Playboys scout for polo ponies

Posted by Guillermo Zapateiro on Monday September 04, @04:44AM

from the What are the little people doing today? dept.

SAN SADURNINO (El Ferrol), Espana (JNS)_ The international playboys scouted for polo ponies this weekend, appearing at two local festivals and putting to rest reports that they had been kidnapped by Basque separtists.

El Conde de Baltimore, admitted that separtists masquerading as a cleaning crew did enter his room at the stately Taberna do Porto in Mera. However, he was able to convince the trio that even if they were able to subdue him by force, the future of their cause did not lay in violence and extortion, but in the development of the Basque community, which already has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and semi-autonimous rule. Convinced by the sanity of his message, the trio decided to use their powers for good instead of evil.

``I think they rightly saw the wisdom of my position, El Conde said in a statement released by his press office.

Separatists unhappy with this outcome tried to convince the local media that they had indeed captured El Conde for ransom, but the appearance of the pair at the weekend festivals in Betanzos and San Sadurnino laid those claims to rest.

El Conde and Formula 1 driver John Sullivan traveled through the lush green countryside on Friday to Betanzos for the twice monthly market in the medieval riverside town.

After viewing the clothes, vegetables, breads, cheeses and other products in the towns main square, Mr. Sullivan purchased a bottle of honey to give to Rosario, who has been hosting the pair for lunch at her seaside villa.

The two then went to the livestock area where El Conde examined the horses for sale as well as the pigs, quail, partridges, hens, roosters and rabbits.

Not finding any to his liking, the pair had lunch in an adjacent barn where vendors prepared ribs and chorizo sausages over wood fires and boiled octopus in large copper pots. Meanwhile, the farmers and buyers ate at long tables set up in the large concrete barn, washing down the meal with red and white wine served from wood barrels.

After lunch, El Conde bought two pairs of breeding quail, or cordorniz (1,200 pesetas), for Rosarios estate, hoping to convince her to breed the birds, one of his favorite lunch items.

``El Conde, as always, is in the epicurean vanguard, said Josefa Cocineira Forno, editor of the Madrid-based Pork and Shellfish Quarterly Report. ``Quail from this region is delicious, and I believe with his influence, it will now become fashionable.

The pair then chatted with a vendor of riding tack who told them of an equestrian festival the next day outside of Ferrol _ an important naval center northeast of La Coruna.

Getting off to a late start the next day after a bit too much madrugandiando, the playboys were pleased to find the event was held at a fairground near a bucolic mountainside village.

Local horsemen dressed in neat white shirts, black vests and caps with rolled blankets across their knees competed in time trials and showed off their mounts. The horses are trained to trot quickly without breaking into a gallop, providing a less bouncy and more comfortable ride.

Also on display was a breed distinct to Galicia, smallish stocky horses that are mainly chestnut with bushy black manes and tails.

``El Conde seem quite interested in the breed, and we are hoping he will acquire one, said Joaquin Cavalho Castanho, a local horse breeder.

Following a lunch of veal grilled over wood accompanied by regional bagpipe music, the pair toured El Ferrol before returning to Mera.

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Posted by Alex at 04:44 AM