Thursday, March 26, 2009

Madrid: Flamenco and Jamon

City life outside the Placa Mayor
Madrid is a bustling city, larger and grittier than Barcelona, but with a wealth of art from the Spanish crown. Like most capital cities, you can find cuisine from all corners of the country. I live in a big city with wonderful art and all kinds of restaurants. So, these things didn't overly impress me. Don't get me wrong; the Prado is wonderful and Guernica is most definitely worth seeing. However, without a doubt my two very favorite Madrid experiences were Flamenco and Jamon 10; not necessarily in that order.

Phineas - since he just told you about my first experience with jamon de bellota - will update you on my carnivorous escapades in Madrid. I will just leave it by saying that the woman who runs Artesania Iberica Jamon 10 is my personal hero... and drug dealer.

Now on to Flamenco! I had heard that the best place to see good flamenco was Madrid. I was not disappointed. Casa Patas - part restaurant, part performance space and part flamenco conservatory - was just a short walk from our hotel. On our last night in Spain we saw Guadalupe Torres and Jose Maldonado (Bailaores) perform to the crooning of the cantore “El Trini” (apparently the singers like to have nicknames) and the music of a superb ensemble of classic guitars, winds and percussions.

En fuego!

I'm still not exactly sure whether "flamenco" refers to the music, the dancing, the hand clapping or the whole she-bang. Is it still flamenco without the tortured, fiery dancing? I don't know. But the singing is throaty and emotional. And the guitar? heavenly. The classical flamenco playing is so much more subtle and complex than anything on US radio. It is hard to explain how it all blends, but somehow the percussion - hands clapping, dancers stamping and drummer drumming - pulls it all together. The show was half over by the time I realized that I didn't have any clue what El Trini was singing about - forbidden love? love gone wrong? the end of an affair? Somehow it didn't matter; I was mesmerized.

I was sad for our trip to end, but we did leave on a high note. And I have decided to induct two honorary Spanish muses into the pantheon: Guadalupe, Muse of Flamenco, and the woman from Jamon 10, Muse of Jamon. Ole!

1 comment:

2BSewing: said...

I'm catching up on your posts. I think Phineas has caught the blog-fever and is doing well with his posts. :)