There are bonuses though, to this new place. It's by the river so you can run/cycle/walk/crawl, you choose, by the Manzanares River, or wind your way up into the Casa de Campo - a 1700 hectare ex-royal hunting ground - and enjoy the boats trickling over the water of the lake. Then you have the Palace and its gardens a few minutes back into town, proud and green. You smile that you live in the district of Madrid called 'Imperial'. And then you stumble into the 'historic' part of Madrid. Little winding streets, churches, tapas bars, colours and shady corners. And then the centre and the tourists. You have towns, so many of them, nearby. You spend a public holiday with a couple of your Spanish friends (Esther and Elena) in Manzanres and enjoy the sun while the rib you for being a guiri.
And then you utterly balls up to twattery cooking some baby squids.
Heather and I had spent €24 on these bastards, chipirones they're called. We didn't know what to do with them exactly. Seafood is not my speciality, but I had an idea how to treat them. I believe they should be served simple, a culinary shrine to their fishiness. Fried in oil, then garlic and lemon and maybe a sprinkling of paprika to serve. I came home from work to find a couple of forlorn little sea creatures in a fine-smelling pan - citrus rock pools - in a pool of blasted garlic and a blackish sauce.
'There's more of them in the fridge love,' came a warble from the living room.
I took out the semi-translucent blobs and cut their glassy-eyed heads off, chucked them in the pan and started frying with all the vigour of Gordon Ramsey as a contestant on his own programme. I was a chef. A deft twirling squeeze of the lemon, flip, and then a daring drizzle of oil, careful now, and onto the plate. Poof! Paprika, done.
They were horrible. Truly disappointing. Well-cooked, but offensive to my mouthal zone. An advert, an example, as to why you should always check a method before launching into a new food stuff. None of us had prepped them properly.
- Remove the head, yes, and the little cartilaginous spine inside the 'pocket'. I can tell you they are quite tough to the chew.
- Turn the pocket inside out and remove the ink tube. This will assist in removing the black sauce from your usually chalk-white flaps of sea-flesh and not deposit what tasted like a grainy sand mixture all over your unsuspecting tongue and teeth.
- Wash all over and fairly thoroughly.
I now know how not to cook chipirones. I have had them before and they are delightful. Light and aromatic, like calamares but more modest.
A final piece of news is that I intend to 'crash' the InMadrid (Madrid's English language newspaper), October edition launch party and peddle my book like the whore I need to be.