españa, thursday day 2: bodega el socorro.

Bodega El Socorro was the first place the Nelsker took me in Ronda that she'd actually been to before. She's obviously been here a lot: even though he hadn't seen her in a couple of years, when the waiter came to our table he asked her if she was still a vegetarian.

Which is an important question in Spain, because let's just say that most tapas bars' menus aren't designed with the vegetarian in mind. It's hard work finding something to eat that's not bread or shredded lettuce or cheese or mushrooms or potatoes or eggs. I know all of those things can be delicious, but believe me you run out of fresh and exciting combinations pretty quick.

This is our first bite of food in Ronda, a very garlicky potato salad which I think I eventually ate most of.

This is berenjenas fritas con miel de caña: fried eggplant with cane syrup. The syrup comes in one of those old American diner-style dispensers with the sliding top, you can drizzle the syrup on it as you like.

Pictured below is the dish that broke me: cazón de adobo, fried marinated dogfish. It broke me because, like yesterday's salpicón, I really kind of thought I knew what it was. I knew "I'd made it" before, I remember what the page looks like in the Penelope Casas book. I remembered liking it quite a bit, and I remembered it being some fried fish marinated in some kind of Moorish/Moroccan spices/sauce.

When I said the words "Moroccan sauce" at the table, the Nelske expressed some gentle skepticism. "I would be really surprised if there was a Moroccan sauce involved here", she said, adding something about these being simple people eating simple food, basically making me sound like I was being some kind of pretentious dick who didn't know what he was talking about. I silently shrugged to myself, thinking OK, well whatever, Ms. Food Expert, we'll see who knows their Spanish food in a few minutes here, won't we etc etc etc.

I probably don't need to tell you that when this came to the table and I asked "What is this?" there was quite a bit of impolite snickering. One of the more impolite people at the table may have asked (with extreme deadpan sarcasm) how the Moroccan sauce was. You can almost tell from the position of her impolite, snickering elbow in the photo below how much she's enjoying this.

To finish this story: my "Moroccan sauce" tasted a lot like mayo from a squeeze bottle frankly. The dish as a whole was...not very good. The marinade was harsh and astringent, the chunks of fish were ehh "oily" in the mackerel kind of way, and I bit into one that almost broke my tooth, and when I looked at what I'd bitten into, the chunk was mostly blackish-colored inside, and I spit the rest into my napkin, which I think I may have never done in public before. OK, game over. I'm not doing the ordering anymore.

Afterwards, a cleansing visit to the bullfighting museum.

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