Monthly Archives: November 2009

My spicy Mediterranean lamb stew recipe

So in a month, Christmas will already be gone and New Year’s Eve will be looming over us. Tonight we have El Clásico, it’s getting dark early and it’s pretty cool outside. In other words, today’s the perfect day for my spicy Mediterranean lamb stew: a warming, filling classic that’s perfect for late autumn. I’m no Keith Floyd but I’d bet anyone who,likes lamb and spicy stuff would love this. It’s a bit of a mishmash of different bits and bobs. It’s probably not as good as a proper caldereta Manchega (a dish so good, it seems to be banned from restaurants), but paired with a bit of mash or even half a baguette, it’s a spicy-yet-rural heart warmer.

What you need for the recipe:

500g lamb neck (this recipe is perfect for the stronger-tasting lamb we normally get here in Spain. Bulkier, milder Devon or Welsh lamb is delicious but better for roasting, in my opinion)
1 onion
1 large red pepper
Some white wine (1/2 a bottle – I used cheap 2005 Raimat Chardonnay)
The best golden-coloured olive oil you can afford (I use Veá extra virgin olive oil from Lleida. It’s utterly exquisite.)
400g cooked chickpeas (in a jar, normally)
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
2 small red chili peppers
Salt, pepper and bay leaves
About 2 hours

How to make it:

Chop up the meat, onion, pepper and chilli. Heat a generous portion of delicious golden olive oil in a decent, heavy-based saucepan or casserole and throw the lamb into it. Seal the lamb and then take it out of the pan with one of those spoons with holes in. Put it in a bowl so you don’t lose precious juices.

You may need to add a drop more of your terrifyingly expensive oil here. That’s fine: never be afraid of using a bit more oil. Now throw the onion in, fry it then after a few minutes chuck the pepper and chili in too. Fry them all together for a few minutes. Season them a bit too. Then put the lamb (and any juices) back, adding two bay leaves and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Stir it up.

Next, pour in about 1/3 to 1/2 of a bottle of white wine. Keep the heat high. Reduce the wine for about 15 minutes or so. Pour yourself and your partner/friends a glass at the same time: you must use wine you’d be able to drink normally, so here’s your chance to prove that you’re not cheating.

Now you add the canned chopped tomatoes (you could use fresh: I do for bolognese but Can Rot-Xardá brand tomatoes are v. good – just stay away from supermarket own-brand crap). Give it all a good stir, cook on a high heat for about 5 min and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for approx 1 hour. Stir it from time to time if you like.

After 1 hour, add the drained (but not washed) chickpeas. Cook for another hour (you could reduce this to 30 min without losing too much quality).

Serve with aforementioned mashed potatoes, parsnips, peas, baguette, rice or whatever you have lying around that needs finishing. A decent red wine will accompany it well. Força Barça!

thebadPoll: Working in Spain

This poll was inspired by a brief conversation I had with a couple of other expats over at another website. The discussion started as a debate about January 6th being made a ‘new public holiday’ – which made little sense to me as Magic Kings’ day already was a holiday.

A generally held view seems to be that the last thing Spain needs is more public holidays, but I couldn’t quite establish whether the people who were espousing this POV were themselves employed in Spain, or whether they simply wanted to be able to go shopping whenever they wanted and sod the workers.

So what do you think? Do you work in Spain? How does your company treat you? Has Spain caught up with the UK in terms of worker exploitation modern labour practices? Is Spain a good place to work? As usual, you can select one answer from the list on the right >>> but it’s your comments that I’m most interested in.

So who’s the Nazi and who’s the fascist? This gets confusing

South of Watford has a post today about an incident that I was planning to write about. Apparently, the British fascist party, the BNP, attended a meeting in Madrid on the 21st. Also present at the meeting were the Spanish fascist party, Democracia Nacional and the Italian fascist group Forza Nuova.

The meeting was nearly interrupted by another Spanish far-right group, the Movimiento Patriótico Socialista, 28 of whom were apparently arrested. The BNP issued a statement, claiming the MPS represents a ‘neo-Nazi’ agenda and are ‘aligned to the English Defence League’, a group of militant fascists which the BNP claims to disown entirely.

Now, on first sight, this might be a simple dispute between different factions of the far-right, doing a sort of ‘People’s Front of Judea’ style bit of in-fighting. And that would be very amusing.

I’m not so sure that it’s so simple. There are several problems here: first of all, it’s very difficult indeed to find any information about the MPS. That’s unusual because as any fule know, the very first thing any political group does these days is set up an atrociously badly designed and unusable website full of conflicting political statements. The MPS doesn’t have one and they’ve been around since at least March.

Democracia Nacional claim that the attackers weren’t the MPS but rather came from the Movimiento Social Republicano, a relatively well known neo-Nazi group (at least it is if you’ve ever spent any time browsing through fascist websites). MSR are in turn linked to the Italian fascist group Fimma Tricolore, which was in alliance with the Forza Nuova as recently as 2005.

The EDL themselves have been noisy this year, holding small-scale aggressive ‘protests’ in a few British cities, normally in the name of opposing ‘Radical Islam’. The BNP has said several times that it doesn’t support the bully-boy tactics of the EDL but at the same time various EDL organisers are known members of the BNP.

To me, this ‘split’ in European fascism could be one of two things: it’s either a genuine split caused by a sense of dissatisfaction among the more openly violent factions of the far-right, who have decided to ‘go it alone’ and fight in the streets. Or it’s a cosmetic split, designed to allow the ‘mainstream’ fascist parties to orchestrate street violence and then condemn it, satisfying their two main goals: appearing to be mainstream and beating up Muslims. And they all get press to boot.

Statistics of corruption in Spain

Franco’s Little Helper* over at Kalebeul has an amusingly perverse analysis of how the two major political parties in Spain account for most of the local corruption investigations here. The great thing about proposing a new statistical analysis is that feeling of deciding the size of the goal. And where it will be placed.

*I’m sure Trevor won’t mind me calling him that, given that he’s an avowed supporter of the ultra-nationalist UPyD.

Some reasons why you should boycott Lidl

There are lots of reasons I could offer for avoiding Lidl like the plague. The design of their logo, for example, or the way their shops make you feel like you’ve stepped into some sort of future/past hell where they only sell unrecognisable foodstuffs in a great concrete hall at slightly lower prices.

But the real reason you should boycott this company is the abysmal way it treats its employees. Labour rights for Lidl workers are practically non-existent and there are dozens of accounts of the firm’s frankly astounding abuses of workers. Things like:

  • A culture of terror in many Lidl stores, which forces employees to do what they’re told or face loss of shifts
  • Regular, unpaid overtime (resulting in sometimes absurdly unfair working hours)
  • Intimidation and humiliation of women (including a special cap given to a menstruating woman)
  • Pressure on workers to prevent them organising or joining trade unions
  • A campaign of spying on employees during breaks
  • Denial of sick pay by moving shifts when a worker is ill; invasive ‘checks’ at workers homes by management

Now, any one of those reasons should be enough for anyone interested in solidarity or workers’ rights to stop shopping at Lidl. I’d add that from what I’ve seen, the majority of their products are of very low quality and are generally of the processed variety. If you value your own well being and that of your fellow workers, shop somewhere which sells locally-sourced, quality food. It may cost a little more but food is so important that spending a little more in exchange for much better quality makes complete sense.

Look after yourself and your fellow worker: avoid Lidl and eat healthy, natural food.

Some further reading:

Cheap but not so cheerful

Every Lidl hurts

Lidl international campaign

Lidl accused of spying on workers

The Lidl shop of horrors