Sunday, June 6, 2010

mary of the sea

Once wanderlust overwhelmed my desire to relax in the grass, I walked around aimlessly to see what I could see. I found the Picasso Museum with its long line of visitors, and chose instead to check out the tiny yet enjoyable Barbier Mueller Museum of Pre-Columbian Art directly across the street. As luck would have it, admission to the little museum was free that day, and my excitement over this fact seemed quite humorous to the guy at the ticket counter. I'm easily pleased, and when I happen to be in the right place at the right time, I feel like I've won the lottery. I wasn't allowed to take photos inside the museum, which boasts a lovely collection of Haida masks and art, a stunning Mayan relief, and many other fine Pre-Columbian pieces.

I made my way through thin labyrinthine streets to a beautiful Catalan Gothic church, Santa Maria del Mar, which I admit I had never heard of— I like to discover cities whilst in them, and though I had my pocket Lonely Planet guidebook in the bottom of my cavernous bag, I only opened it a few times on my trip for navigational purposes. I figure that if I don't stumble upon something before the end of my journey (and with the way I explore cities, I am bound to), I'll read up the day before I leave to catch anything I've missed. Those lucky few that have travelled with me know that their feet are in for a treat, and they'd best pack some comfortable shoes. I do my best to walk a city inside-out.

Santa Maria del Mar was completed in the late 14th century— an astounding fact that hovers gracefully above your head on a series of slender columns. I generally find churches and cathedrals sombre and cold, but there was something about this one that felt almost light. I sat on one of the hard wooden pews for a while, watching wide-eyed tourists and listening to an old man pray in what I assume was Catalan.

I had eventually worked up quite the appetite, and wandered over to a corner café for some patatas brava and pulpo a la gallega— fried potatoes and Galician-style octopus. I love octopus, and if a place that I visit features the mollusk in its cuisine, I will seek it out. It was a delicious, satisfying meal, and I particularly enjoyed the plate of bread slices spread with a tomato garlic purée— I could have done without the potatoes and been happy with the octopus and bread. This tomatoey bread is something I must add to my daily diet.


Javier de Blas said...

Mmm... yes! They call these bread slices spread with a tomato garlic, "pa-m-tumaca" wich is "pá amb tumaca" (bread and tomato) also served with a ckricle of olive oil on top. Really delicious.

szaza said...

I absolutely LOVE pá amb tumaca! I've been making and eating a version almost every day here in Istanbul :)