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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two by Two


Two fishermen, two pigeons and the two pieces of the minimalist Carrara marble sculpture by Japanese artist Kan Yasuda, entitled Tensei Tenmoku or Door without Door, exhibited on the esplanade adjacent to the quay in Garachico.

Fiestas of San Antonio Abad in Los Silos, January 23rd

San Antonio Abad 2008 - Los Silos

Here’s a question for you … When is the 3rd Sunday in January held on the 4th Sunday in January? Give up? OK, I’ll tell you: it’s when it’s in Tenerife, of course!

As anyone who has ever lived in Tenerife will tell you, organizing proverbial piss-ups in breweries is not one of the culture’s strong points and getting information prior to events taking place is often somewhat akin to getting blood out of a stone.

And even when you do have the information in advance (from official sources, no less), there’s absolutely no guarantee that it’s going to be correct.

Case in point: The Fiestas in honour of San Antonio Abad in Los Silos.

This will also give you some idea of the frustration that fools like me and those lovely folk over at Tenerife Magazine have to suffer and the sort of “detective work” we have to undertake in order to inform you of some of the island’s cultural events. Events we imagine that locals would love you to be able to enjoy too.

According to the Tourist Board (who ought to know), the San Antonio Abad fiestas in Los Realejos and Buenavista del Norte were supposedly taking place last week, January 16th. Also according to the same tourist board info, the San Antonio fiestas were to be taking place in Arona, next week, January 30th.

Well, the Arona festivities took place last week, as did those in Los Realejos and Buenavista’s always (with the proviso that it could be changed) take place the week after those in Los Silos (I know they were never the same week, because I used to go to both Los Silos’ and Buenavista’s and never managed to be in two places at once) – which according to Los Silos Town Hall (who again, you’d imagine have a clue) – takes place on the 3rd Sunday in January each year, which according to the calendars I’m consulting, meant last week.

Only it doesn’t. Why should it? T.I.T. = This is Tenerife, after all!

Reading a report today in 20minutos, we learn that the Livestock Fair and Arts & Crafts Fair in honour of San Antonio Abad in Los Silos – along with the procession, blessing, etc. - celebrates it’s 263rd Anniversary this weekend, according to a press release from the Los Silos town hall.

Yes, the same town hall that says it’s always the 3rd Sunday … To be fair, their calendar does also say that the fiesta is this weekend (despite what it’s other page says.)

We thought that a 263rd Anniversary was a funny one to make a “newsworthy” press release from too, but to mention that would seem like we’re really splitting hairs! :)

Then we go on to read that even the 263 is a bit tentative ...

According to a local historian the first religious icon of San Antonio Abad arrived in Los Silos on August 4th, 1748 (2011 – 1748 = 263 and, yes I did check the maths. Can you blame me?) Although, the report continues, there’s no documented source in that respect, it is logical [Ed: logic, in Tenerife?] to think that the image arrived in the cited year, in order that it could go out in the procession the following year. Right. The actual first documented report to that effect, actually, isn’t until 1906.

Those anecdotes notwithstanding, the release goes on to detail the events of this year’s fiesta, which begins today at 8 pm with the inauguration of a photographic exhibition and a folk festival in the patio of the former convent of San Sebastián.

Tomorrow, January 23rd, at 10 am, the Arts & Crafts Fair will be open in the Plaza de la Luz,  the patio of the former convent of San Sebastián and surrounding streets.

Meanwhile, the Livestock Fair will assemble 400 head of cattle, sheep, goats and horses in the Fairs Enclosure (waste ground) behind the cited ex-convent.
Mass will be held at mid-day, after which will be the procession of the icon, followed by all the livestock and pets, which will subsequently be blessed by the clergy.

The Arts & Crafts Fair is lovely and it all makes a great day out.
In case you were as confused as us, just to recap:

* Thereby hangs another amusing tale … Back in 1992, the year I moved to Tenerife, I had to commute backwards and forwards between the island and the UK several times before I finally made the move permanently. On each and every one of the flights I took, the movie being shown was Groundhog Day.

Repeats of the repeat of …

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Puchero Canario (Canarian Stew)

Plato de puchero canario Image by J Toledo Some rights reserved

Andy Montgomery mentioned that all the vegetable ingredients for puchero were laid out for sale on a special display at her local supermarket yesterday.

In my opinion, puchero is by far the best dish in Canarian Cuisine.

It’s a wonderfully warming stew of meat, vegetables and legumes, which is a perfect dish for a party or family gathering. Indeed one of my recipe books has a version that was used for weddings in the 19th Century. However, it’s also perfectly suited to everyday eating, so here’s a translation of the most typical version used in Canarian home cooking.

200 grs dry chick-peas (garbanzo beans), 500 grs beef, 500 grs pork or chicken (cheap cuts are best, with fat for flavour), 1 kg cabbage, 200 grs pumpkin, 200 grs French beans, 1 fresh corncob, 1 sweet potato, 1 kg potatoes, 30 grs vegetable marrow, 1 or 2 carrots, 1 leek, 1 head of garlic, 1 onion, 1 tomato, saffron, thyme and salt.

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water, drain well and put in a large saucepan with the meat and cover with water. Add chopped leek, onion and tomato to the pan. Crush the garlic, and mix with the thyme, saffron and salt, preferably in a pestle and mortar, then add these to the pot also. When the meat is cooked add all the other vegetables, cut into large pieces, and then continue at a simmer until all the vegetables are tender but still whole.

To serve, remove the meat and vegetables from the pot with a slotted spoon and arrange on serving dishes. Provide plenty of typical Canarian bread (crusty), local wine by the carafe and you have a very pleasant and relaxed meal for your guests to help themselves to. Buen provecho!

(Even more typical is to use some of the stock to make the ESCALDON to serve as an accompaniment, which is simply to put gofio (500 grs) into a dish and add the hot stock a little at time and mix to form a stiff consistency.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Celebrating New Year in Puerto de la Cruz

Love this video from my friends Jack and Andy Montgomery, of Tenerife Magazine (and numerous other projects that keep our email exchanges infrequent), who show us snippets of the various aspects of party time in Puerto de la Cruz.

Now, I wouldn’t have noticed the presenter’s slight inebriation, until she mentioned it and likewise, if you live in the typical British “Dullsville”, you won’t have noticed that the celebrations in Puerto were apparently cutback from previous levels either.

Why I like it – apart from it giving me the chance to re-live some fiesta atmosphere – is that it provides a very concise and comprehensive sampler (in just over 4 minutes) of what to expect at most of the celebrations in Tenerife; be they New Year, Carnaval street parties or many of the various other fiestas held all over the island throughout the year. Obviously, size varies according to budget – generally commensurate with the size of the town or pueblo where the party is – and there may not always be a fun-fair, but otherwise the formula is similar: magnificent firework displays follow whatever event is being celebrated, then the masses dance all night in the open air (sadly, yes, to an over-predominance of salsa and merengue) and a bit of 1990’s house, if you’re spectacularly lucky!

Where in the UK would you find anything remotely like it, all FREE, with a safe, friendly atmosphere and, where all are welcome, from kids to grannies?

Of course, it’s warm enough to be outside in January in Tenerife (yeah, even in the “cold” north), so the smoking restrictions won’t affect these parties either.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Three Kings Parades in Tenerife

Whatever age child you are, anywhere between 0 and 110, if you can, you really shouldn’t miss one of the Three Kings Parades on the night of January 5th.

(These guys bring the presents then, not the red-suited bloke on Dec 24.)

Their wonderful parades are usually held in almost all towns and villages on the island (by magic, obviously), but some of the bigger ones are as follows:

1. Santa Cruz: The Three Kings arrive in a helicopter to the CD Tenerife football ground (for that you need tickets and they sell out well in advance), but the parade around the capital’s streets from 7 pm onwards is free to all. See video from 2010.

2. La Laguna: The Three Kings arrive via Tenerife North Airport, Los Rodeos and seem to bypass luggage restrictions as they have plenty of sweets and gifts to distribute around the streets of the former capital later.

3. Puerto de la Cruz: Well, hopefully, if the current mayor hasn’t put a damper on it, as seems to have been the case with many other events in the town.

4. Garachico: My favourite and the oldest Three Kings celebration on the island and highly recommended since you get real camels – generally up close and personal - and a whole evening’s magnificent and fun entertainment amongst the beautiful 16th to 18th Century buildings that the town mostly comprises.

5. Los Christianos: The best choice if you’re on the south of the island. The Three Wise Men begin their traditional route from the wharf of Los Cristianos, along Avenida de Suecia to end up at Los Cristianos Cultural Center. From 19:15.

And I hope Los Reyes bring you everything you asked for!

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