My friend Mike and I have a passion for finding the classic old bars of Madrid. The ones that have hardly changed in maybe 50 years or more, that look like this one above, La Nueva, that I found by accident recently while wandering around the San Bernado district.
Sadly these are in decline, which makes us even keener to enjoy the timeless feeling they offer while they last. So when we meet for a menu del día, we usually check out one of these places first, and then follow up with a set lunch somewhere classically and timelessly Spanish too – another mission of ours, to find the best Spanish menu del día in Madrid.
So Mike was pretty surprised when I recently told him that my new favourite restaurant in the city was now an Italian! Like I’d committed some kind of act of treason! But what can one do? The food at Mercato Ballaro is incredible. They have this pasta, Linguine, with asparagus, parmesan, and truffle oil which provokes a feeling of ecstasy from start to finish!
Having said all that, I’ve only been twice since I discovered the place 6 months ago, the last time with my wife this week (so Spain is still winning!) I ordered the Linguine again, and began to enjoy it enormously. Then after a while I realised I’d been thinking about this and that, and that there was only a quarter of the dish left. I’d been dreaming for about half of it and missed out on it! No! What a waste! Right, I thought, I’m really going to enjoy this last quarter! Eating meditation time! And I made the most that last quarter savouring every bite!
And at the end I found myself laughing away internally as the thought had popped into my mind, ‘Life is like a bowl of pasta’ – as delicious and wonderful and ecstatic as this Linguine, but if you spend too long thinking and dreaming away in your head, you miss it!
I laughed because it sounds like something Charlie Brown would say, or the start of some silly joke, but it’s kind of stuck with me all week. Life is like a bowl of pasta! (Really delicious pasta!) Don’t miss it!