The travel bug bit Bill Beaty at a young age when he realized there was
a big world beyond his small Oklahoma home town. Between work and
vacations, he's made more than two dozen trips to Europe, the middle
east, and Hawaii, and he spent two years in Japan courtesy of the
U.S. Army. He and his wife, Lenna, live near Dayton, Ohio where they
are saving for their next trip to Europe.
It was just a little jug pulled from the back of the cupboard for some obscure
Thanksgiving dinner purpose. A simple piece of pottery, really. But in that
small jug rested the tale of a trip to Spain I'd never forget... The writing on the
little jug brought memories flooding back. The inscription says:
You see, the working class Taberna used the little brown earthenware jugs to serve the
house wine, Sangria, or even tap water. We have two of the little jugs, and I learned
a lot about my wife's determination the day we came to own that set.
We were in Madrid, the best kept secret in Europe, a sunny city with the
best art museum (The Prado is a whole cut about the Louvre), the best
sidewalk cafes (try Spanish tapas over any other snack food in the world),
and the liveliest renaissance quarter, Old Madrid.
This was our second trip together to the Spanish capital. My wife had
gone with me on my last business trip. I worried that she could take
care of herself while I worked, but her first day alone outside the
United States or Canada, she found El Corte Ingles, a department store
indistinguishable in look and feel from Dillards, or any other large
American chain. She'd bought a shirt, no mean feat for a non Spanish
speaking stranger, and later that day she did what she would do in
America, she returned the shirt! She could survive in Europe without
me to guide her.
Back to the jugs. We were staying in the Hotel Ingles, which claims to
have been the favorite of Virginia Woolf. It was around the corner from
the five star hotel where middle eastern diplomats had just met for the
Madrid Peace Conference. The Hotel Ingles had seen better times, and
in those pre Euro days, a suite was just $68.00. (Its now $112.) I
had retired from my job on Friday, and we had decided not to wake up
our first morning of retirement and wonder what to do for the rest of
our lives. Instead, we left for 16 days in Spain. We'd worry later
about the future.
The Hotel Ingles featured lovely balconies overhanging Echegaray Street,
in the heart of Old Madrid and the center of a pastime known as taxca
hopping, going from bar to bar for the featured drink and tapas. Our
balcony overlooked the street and was perfect for pictures. My wife
used the balcony every day to read or to work the USA Today crossword.
Down the street from our balcony, in full view, was the world's largest
paella pan. The Taberna D'a Quiemada kept the pan, at least six feet
across and six inches or more deep, in front of the restaurant and cooked
the paella on an open fire in full view of passersby. We knew it was a
tourist trick, but every day we marveled at how good the rice and chicken
and clams of the paella looked. On our last day, a Sunday, we decided to
have the paella for lunch.
The paella wasn't that good, but the little brown jug our drink was served
in caught my wife's eye. A row of them decorated a shelf on a wall of the
taberna. She came up with a dozen uses for the jug back home. We could
serve drinks in it when we had our family in for paella night; it would
be perfect for drinks on the deck, and we might even use it for flowers
on a future dinner table. By the time I got to dessert, my last flan of
this trip, she had decided not to leave Madrid without a pair of the
I remember the conversation well...
"They probably don't sell them," I said.
She gave me that look. Such a simple reason had never stopped her before.
The waiter came; I paid the check; and my wife began her spiel.
"Senor," she said, "I would like to buy two of these jugs." She held
up the jug on our table to demonstrate.
"They are not for sale," the waiter replied.
"May I speak to the manager?" she asked. I was always the one who asked
for the manager. I knew she was determined.
While we were waiting for the manager, she turned to me. "Give me
five hundred pesetas and wait outside," she said.
I gladly agreed. I would protect my wife against raging bulls, but she
was in unfamiliar waters. She was going against a Madrid restaurant
manager. She didn't speak his language. He didn't speak hers well.
There was no way she could win.
I walked outside and stood in the sun. Echegaray Street was full of
Spaniards on their Sunday stroll. Time went by. I looked inside.
My wife was standing there, not moving and the restaurant manager
was gesturing wildly. I looked up and down the street. If the
police came, I could at least hold them for a minute while she
made her getaway.
Then I heard her behind me. "Honey, are you ready to go?"
I turned, and there she stood, an I-told-you-so look on her face,
clutching two earthenware jugs against her coat.
"How did you do that?"
"Simple," she said with a wry grin... "I told him I didn't speak Spanish, and
I refused to leave."
"He finally said he'd sell them to me, just to get rid of me. But
he wanted five hundred pesetas each. I told him I only had five
hundred pesetas, and I had to have two jugs."
"Why did he give in?"
"I just refused to leave," she said. "He finally gave up."
That night we packed the two earthenware jugs with our dirty clothes
and brought them home. There they sat on top of the refrigerator. They remained
there for years until a new refrigerator purchase caused them to be exiled to the back
of the cupboard... until finally for Thanksgiving dinner they made their long-awaited
The jugs came out of the cupboard — seemingly just to celebrate the
event with us, since they weren't used. They simply sat on the kitchen table
amid all the serving pans and dishes... the spoils of battle, I'd guess.
Maybe I'll make a big pan of paella...
Copyright © December 2003 Bill Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Almonds
For the Sauce:
- 1 ½ c. roasted unsalted almonds
- 2 hot red peppers, or red pepper flakes to taste
- 4 T. butter
- 2 Pork Tenderloins, 1-1½ lbs. each
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
- 6 T. white wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 3/4 lb. butter
Chop almonds to coarse consistency (may use food processor, or purchase
pre-chopped ones.) Seed and chop peppers fine.
Brown tenderloins in melted butter until well browned. Remove from skillet
and pat on almond/pepper mixture. (Reserve the rest of the almond mixture for sauce.)
Season with salt, pepper and return to skillet.
Place in oven and roast 30-35 mins (to 160º.) Remove and let stand while preparing sauce.
For sauce, place vinegar, juices, almond mixture, and cumin in pan and boil down until
liquid is nearly evaporated. Add any pan juices and boil down briefly. Whisk in butter,
piece by piece over very low heat. Butter should stay in suspension.
Serves 6 — 1.3 effective grams of carbohydrate per serving.