Fart part two

Ruzafart (24 May blog) – or Ruza Fart as we crass Brits living in the area called it, is over; but don’t worry, you still have time to get the ‘fart’ joke in at the expense of the Valencianos. Ruza ‘Fart’ only had a couple of days to get a dig in, but the next one will last the whole of the summer!

Valencia is famous as the birthplace of the paella, that ubiquitous rice dish, which, along with gazpacho, is seen as the be-all and end-all of Spanish cuisine. (Far from it, but that’s for another day.) What most people don’t know, (at least until you get here, and then you have the fact pretty much rubbed in your face) is that it is also the home of horchata, a rich milky-looking drink that is made from the chufa, monkey nut to you and I. It is a wonderfully refreshing drink, full of every type of vitamin and aphrodisiac you can think of (at least according to the producers). However, it isn’t the drink itself, but the little pastry that accompanies it that has the Brit collapsing in the aisles.

The farton is a sponge finger biscuit that you dip into your horchata, much as you would a Cadbury’s digestive or a Hobnob into tea or coffee. It soaks up the delicious liquid, adding a ‘succulent density of its own to the flavour of the drink, thereby adding to and expanding the experience’. (I’d love to know how much the ad agency was paid to write that load of shite!) Whatever, I have to admit that they are pretty tasty. But you can always tell a Brit who is ordering them for the first time; giggle, sniggers, trying to appear cosmopolitan in front of the waiter while thinking, “What the bloody hell have they been farted on!” But let’s face it, we’re all as common as muck deep down.

A while ago I was asked to write an article about Sagunto, an ancient city twenty minutes to the north of Valencia. It’s a delightful place, but as I was walking up the hill I saw a sign outside a ceramics shop which gave me the perfect introduction to the piece.

‘The owner of the ceramic shop at the bottom of the steep incline up to Sagunto Castle probably wonders why he sees so many white-kneed Brits giggling and taking photos of his shop sign, much in the way they snigger behind their hand when they order fartons, the sponge biscuit that accompanies the delicious Valenciano drink horchata. In uneven hand-written lettering, the sign tells you that the shop is called Ceramicas Arse. Giggleworthy it may be to the Brit with a limited knowledge of Spanish history – in other words, practically everyone – but Arse was the name that modern-day Sagunto was known by when it was an Iberian settlement – and there weren’t many tourists to laugh at the name then!’

What was equally as wonderful is that longed for opportunity for the journalist to quite justifiably say that, “Sagunto is the Arse end of the world!” Oh! What joy!

As I was writing the article, I remembered a moment from a press trip to Murcia a couple of years ago. We were eight journalists, seven from the UK, and me as the solo Brit in Spain. We were bussed between organised this and organised that, and at one point we de-bussed into some one-horse village in the late hours of the morning. As press trips tend to be, we didn’t actually give that much of a toss about where we were, particularly as lunch was on the very near horizon. We scrambled off the bus and landed in front of an old biddy who was so ancient she probably helped Noah count the animals into the arc two by two. She was sat on a seventies tubular steel and formica kitchen chair, with a visage as devoid of mental function as a pear.

In every group of journalists there’s always some persevering sod – usually young who thinks he has to justify himself and actually write an article – ours was called Peter, (what a shame I can’t make a joke of his name, like Gavin or Derick) who asked the old dame in his best school Spanish, “¿Como se llama el pueblo?” (What’s the village called?) She looked at him through baggy, ancient eyes and said, with a dead-pan delivery worthy of Les Dawson, “El culo del mundo.

When the Spanish-speakers amongst us collapsed in hysterics, he asked in a panicky voice, “What did she say? Tell me, what did she say!” “ ‘The arsehole of the world’”, said someone between snorts. And she wasn’t far off.

But the lunch and local wine were great!

To see Les Dawson in Action

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

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