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Chapter Nineteen – Bodega


SPAIN, like every old and worthy country, keeps up its regional peculiarities; there are thousand and one differences between Valencia and Asturias, Arragon and Extremadura. Even nature has become associated with the localized patriotism which this involves, and produces a different type of wine in each province.

You must know that the wines of Castille promote valour, while the wines from the province of Granada arouse a grievous and frantic sorrow, and the wines of Andalusia induce feelings of delight and cheerfulness; the wines from Rioja refresh the mind, the Catalan wines endow the tongue with adroitness, and the wines of Valencia sink to the heart.

You must know, too, that the sherry which is drunk on the spot where it is made, does not resemble the sweetened sherry which we drink; it is light in colour, pungently flavoured with a bitterish tartness, soft as oil, but heady all the same, for it is a sea-coast wine.

Brown Malaga is thick and sticky, like fragrant honey, in which a fiery sting is hidden. And then there is the goodly wine called Manzanilla of San Lucar; as its name shows, it is a young and exuberant wine, worldly and jovial; when you have qualified your fill of Manzanilla, you float along buoyantly as a skiff in a good wind.

You must know also that each province has different sorts of fish and different sorts of cheese, as well as different sorts of sausage and saveloy, beans and melons, olives and grapes, sweetmeats and other gifts of God.
This is why the old and trustworthy authors assert that it is instructive to travel; and every traveller whose aim is to improve his mind in distant lands will assure you how precious and essential a thing good victuals are.

The kings of Asturias are no more, but the smoked cheese of Asturias still survives; the palmy days of Aranjuez are a thing of the past, but the strawberries of Aranjuez enjoy their historic renown to this very day.

Do not be gluttons or finicky feeders; let your meals be an homage to the gods of time and place. I should like to eat caviare in Russia and English bacon in England; but, alas, in England I was given caviare to eat, and English bacon in the land of Spain.

Patriots of all countries, a conspiracy is being hatched against us; neither international finance nor the Fourth Internationale is such a menace to us as the International Hotel-Keeper.

I implore you, caballeros, let us fight against his wiles, uttering sundry sacred and ancient war-cries, such as Chorizo, Kalbshaxe, A la lanterne, Macaroni, Porridge, Camembert, Pereat, Manzanilla and many others, according to where we are and how pugnacious we feel.