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Friday, 16 May 2014

There Are Sandwiches in the Afternoon




Chato’s is on the shady side of the street, where the blocks melt into industrial units and the vans outnumber parked cars by 3 to 1. It’s a breakfast and early evening place, except if there’s football on the TV. Partisan fans who’ve never been out of Malaga Province bellow for Barcelona or Madrid - there is only one Madrid. It’s mostly friendly - if high decibel – banter. Some voices are lowered as they leave, muttering, if the result hasn’t gone their way. Then the shutters are lowered by 11 in the evening, come what may.
Morning is coffee and buñuelo time, although some of the more macho clientele have bread smothered in Manteca, an orangey, garlic-redolent lard. This tastes worse than it sounds, and smells – at second-hand – worse than it tastes. Older guys, retired or near to it, have a coffee blacker than a smoker’s lung and a clear anis in a shot glass. Then they go out to smoke. They eat neither a buñuelo nor the Devil’s Lard on Toast, being sufficiently fuelled for the day.
At about 10, the Policia Local arrive. They park their car out of view in front of the Centro Polideportivo on a street going off the other side of the road. They sit outside on the terrace and someone might wonder why they park out of sight. No-one would dream of asking them. A coffee takes them a half-an-hour and maybe this goes down in the activity log as security advice for local businesses. The Policia Local leave and the Guardia Civil arrive, most likely having occupied the self-same parking space.
There's a blackboard on a window-sill. Careful block capitals read 'There are sandwiches in the afternoon'. This carefully correct grammar is puzzling. Are there none before midday? In any event, these sandwiches will not be neat crustless triangles containing cucumber or cress. Rustic hard-crusted rolls with tomato passata and stiff, cured ham. With a glass of anis on the side, naturally.
Oh, and down here in Andalucia they're called Pitufos, which means Smurf.

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