• 1492 and all that

    1492 is just another number but also a year redolent of change, not just in Spain but globally. In this year, in the small Andalucian town of Santa Fe, near Granada, occurred two momentous historical moments. You will pass by…

  • Breakfast in Andalucia

    Breakfast in Andalucia – sounds like the title of a Hemingway novel! We were on the hunt for the perfect photograph of Ronda – an image that would capture the magnificence of this ancient settlement. Having scoped out the best…

  • The black bulls of Spain

    The Spanish stereotype once embodied the fearsome Duke of Alva, the grotesque Franco, the horrendous Inquisition. But times change and Spain is now all about flamenco and flounces, Carmen and castanets, bravado and bulls. Both the bravado and the bulls…

  • A picnic with Jesus

    The Andalucians specialise in combining the sacred with the secular.  A quintessential example of this phenomenon is Cartajima’s annual romeria, a picnic with Jesus, which was celebrated yesterday. The original inference of romeria was a pilgrimage to Rome which was,…

  • Gachas – Famine Food

    Mari, my expert on Cartajima food traditions, mentioned gachas the other day. Never heard of it, said I. What is it? I enquired.  Salivating, she described a porridge of wheat flour and water which didn’t sound exactly appetising. But, it…

  • Sacré Bleu!

    Many cans of “pitufo* azul” paint are emptied every day as Juzcar’s old walls are prepared for the big event on an unspecified day but rumoured (Sony aren’t saying anything) to be 16th June in advance of the launching of…

  • Less risky Los Riscos

    Behind Cartajima lies a strange wonderland of extraordinary rock formations. Called Los Riscos, meaning crags, these limestone outcrops are a dangerous place to wander without a local guide. Many of my guests long to explore the area but we always…

  • Ultimate Prawn Cocktail

    In the seventies, the standard meal “out” was prawn cocktail, steak and chips, black forest gateau. The prawn cocktail was a simple affair – shredded iceberg lettuce, prawns and a yucky pink sauce. Last night I decided this humble dish…

  • English Breakfast in Andalucia!

    I broke a long-standing vow today when I cooked an English breakfast for a guest – bacon and egg, tomato and mushroom. I have always believed that an essential part of travelling is sharing local food – it has always…

  • A traveller’s tale from Libya

    Recent guests of Los Castanos, whose visit was marred by concerns for their friends lost in Libya, sent this report which they have given me permission to reproduce here: It now all seems a distant but lovely memory of our…