Monday, April 15, 2013

In Praise of Spanish Bodegas

April 15, 2013

Based on dumb luck, Rick Steves and constant searching, we found quite a few spectacular Spanish bodegas on our two week road trip to the Extremadura region of Spain. As I mentioned, any bodega, which is a combo-neighborhood bar-cafe, worth its salt has ham parts hanging over the bar, like this one in Sevilla.

Or, this one in Madrid:

They love ham so much they even have a Hamon Museo (Ham Museum) in Madrid, not far from our hotel. Notice the cone shaped paper cups at the bottom to catch any blood. Here's another view with a closer look at the cup phenom:

Many bodegas have bullfight photos, like this one in Plaza Mayor in Madrid, showing a painful groin shot:

The attraction is great food, and here's a shot of the local dish paella:

And, of course, these neighborhood hangouts usually have a sultry bodega babe somewhere on the premises:


The other component of a great bodega is a loud bartender. This is our favorite guy at Don Fernando's with a sign that says "desde 1505" (since 1505).

The bodega tradition goes back several centuries but it's interesting to note that in the 1770s a typical bodega served chocolate as the main drink and you couldn't read a newspaper or smoke, talk politics or play cards. Today you can see patrons doing all of the above AND talking loudly, which brings us to the main focus in a good bodega and that is a loud bartender.

This guy was great, talking very loudly, not unlike Abbott and Costello in "Who's On First." Very friendly demonstrative guy, as is typical of bodega bartenders all throughout Spain.

Of course, Spain has a very high unemployment rate and they have a rep for not wanting to do certain types of work.

"So many men without posts, so many posts without men."

—A famous writer's lament about Spanish lack of productivity