A Mijas Surprise.
Croissants are peculiarly French, paella is of course Spanish. Each country produces a little local dish or foodstuff that identifies itself inseparably with the people who live there. Croissants are folded in an enigmatic shape, the unfathomable unravelling of which resembles French intellectual history. The paella is a rich mixture of Spanish colours and heat. In Russia, the potato indicates the lack of culinary invention befitting a snow bound country. In the United States, it is sugar and fat, the mirror images of its citizens. Tourists will of course be presented with these offerings to enforce upon them the sure knowledge that they are indeed in a foreign land, as if the airport security and the interminable hours spent cooped up with strangers, who have even stranger habits, in an aircraft had not already impressed themselves as ‘travel’.
Mijas is flush with donkeys, sunshine, palm trees and coach loads of people ostensibly come to see how and where the locals live, while all the while taking pictures of themselves (and only of themselves) standing in front of old stone white buildings. The locals are actually of no interest to most tourists except as bearers of sangria and chips. Their language is as alien to the visitors’ ears as is the sound of weeping refugees drowning in the nearby Mediterranean to the ears of a fat plutocrat buying up a street in Marbella in order to satisfy his under sexed and over reconstructed wife on a shopping spree.
The Plaza de la Virgen is the town square, thronged with visitors and desperation. The latter belongs to the shop keepers and cafe owners who have a precious few hours in which to separate filthy lucre from the fat fingers of their owners. Mijas is fisted daily by coach loads up from the coast, disgorging their passengers from cruise ships and hotels down by the sea. Thus there is a short window of opportunity as hordes of emmets scurry around the bullring, the church and donkey shite. They will of course eat something as well. Paella probably.
What they will not expect is a Cornish pasty.
Hidden away in a corner off the square is the ‘Mango tea room’. Run by two blokes from the UK, it offers meals we would recognise as breakfast and cream teas adorned by Rodda’s clotted cream. The Yanks go mad for it. One can also get a pasty hand made from the Redruth trained baker who co owns the place. Resistance is futile.
It was bleddy ‘ansum and I tell him as much. It is crimped proper and stuffed with steak and turnips. Hot and pepp’ry. For a moment we are back in Camborne but without the Tyack’s Hotel, the rain and the sense of impending doom. The baker’s accent is still Redruth all right, even though he has been here over 15 years. What does a pasty say about the Cornish? That wherever you are, and in whatever state you find yourself…nothing beats a bit of hot home comfort in a pastry case.