Thursday, 11 February 2010

Living in Another Culture – Living on Tenerife is Different… Honest #2

A couple of days after the British Guild of Travel Writer’s dinner we met up with travel writer and TV director, John Bell in Puerto de la Cruz and took him to one of our favourite places in the town, Cha Paula, an authentic Canarian restaurant in an old mansion.

Apart from experiencing the visually surreal ‘Chorizo de Teror’, John also discovered that the Canarian accent can have as much in common with Madrid Spanish, where John has spent quite a bit of time, as Rab C Nesbitt’s English has with the Queen’s.

“The accent’s a bit different isn’t it?” John commented after the owner, an intimidating-looking, but actually very friendly, shaven head Canario with an accent as thick as palm honey, had explained to us why pimientos de padrón grown on Tenerife weren’t spicy.
His Canarian Spanish led to a discovery of a way to serve coffee that I certainly had never seen before.

As John tried to order a type of coffee he’d seen people drinking in cafes, but wasn’t sure what it was called, the owner thought for a second and then suggested something that sounded like 'cafayconwello'.

“That’s it!”
declared John and then turning to us, asked. “What did he say?”
“Café con hielo,” Andy answered. “Coffee with ice.”

Sure enough, Cha Paula’s owner returned with an espresso sized cup of coffee and a huge tumbler filled with ice. Clearly the ice couldn’t fit into the cup, so John poured the coffee over the ice.

“What does it taste like?”
I asked, intrigued by this unusual method of serving coffee.
“Slightly cold coffee,” was the amused and probably obvious reply.

When the owner came back to the table we asked if this was a popular way to serve coffee.

“For Canarios, no,” he shrugged, then added. “But maybe for peninsulares...sometimes.” With an expression which said, ‘the mainland Spanish are probably strange enough to try something like this’.

It was one of those delicious little moments which illustrated that everyday life in the real Tenerife can be different even if you’re familiar with the ways of mainland Spain.


Anonymous said...

This did make me laugh! Can just picture the look of disdain on the owner's face as he suggests mainland Spaniards might do something like this. I've had many lost in translation moments when travelling - they're always entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Cafe con hielo is really common in Spain in summer. I don't recall ever getting funny looks ordering it in the Canaries, but there's always a first time!

Real Tenerife said...

Interesting Annie - that's what the owner sort of suggested with a look of, as Sarah Lee described it, amused 'disdain'.

Nikki in Tropical Park said...

It is actually a great way to drink coffe in the summer. But it need sweetening even if you don't sweeten hot coffee.
I too learned this habit from peninsulares