Tag Archives: Christmas

Catalan fascists PxC: Immigrant kids want all the sweets

It wouldn’t be a ‘traditional’ time of year without the Catalan fascist Plataforma Per Catalunya party making an absurd racist statement on Facebook. This year’s Reis (Kings’ day, in which Catalans celebrate the arrival of the wise men at the end of the Christmas season – the kings throw boiled sweets from their floats, always eagerly and boisterously collected by local kids of all ages) has seen an extra special bit of gibberish published, courtesy of one Jordi Casanova* of Tortosa.

In a post entitled “IMMIGRANT INVASION AT THE KINGS’ PROCESSION IN TORTOSA” (his caps), Casanova observes how yet another tradition has been ruined by immigrants. He writes:

INDIGNANT over what I saw at the Kings’ procession in Tortosa. A swarm [‘eixam‘ – I think ‘swarm’ is best, but you could almost use ‘plague’] of immigrant children – mainly moros [Moroccans – kind of like saying ‘Pakis’ for Pakistanis in England] – interrupted the collection of sweets thrown from the kings’ floats to the point of putting at risk our children’s physical safety due to the savagery and brutality they displayed while trying to get all the sweets. What – if it can be known [sic] – are these moros doing to our traditions?

(My apologies for a slightly dodgy translation).

What follows is a charming discussion between Casanova and some of his acolytes. Among the first comments:

Raquel Iseres: Gum sweets are normally made with animal gelatin, often from pigs. We need to spread the word about this so they realise they’ve been eating pork without knowing it.

Mayka Miras González: What a shame they didn’t die from eating so many sweets, the scum.

Now, I know it’s easy to point out the failings of fascist diatribe, or the inanity of Facebook comments. But seeing Mayka Miras González speaking against children’s toys saying she wished some little kids were dead, makes me really angry.

Happy new year to you, too. Let’s support smashing the PxC in 2012.

PxC on Facebook


*It is really a cruel twist of fate that a man named Casanova should be quite so… lacking when it comes to physical beauty. Kind of like Lord Adonis.

Vote on comments @ thebadrash.com

Hello gentle reader. You might notice some changes around here today as I’m testing some new plugins on my WordPress installation. The first one is that you can now ‘vote’ on comments by giving them a thumbs up or thumbs down. It’s so much fun, you wouldn’t believe it. Now commenting on thebadrash.com will be a genuine popularity contest.


I’ll be adding some more bits and pieces to make your visit more comfortable. I’ll also probably be tweaking the design a bit, as I haven’t dicked around with that for ages.

Oh, and I’m committed to writing more on the blog than I have done recently. Hopefully, exile to Devon over Christmas will stir my creative juices some. In the meantime, get voting!

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!

Lapland: A fun day out for all the family

This story has been fairly well covered in the British press but if you didn’t hear about it, it’s a classic.

Consumer Direct has received over 2,000 complaints about a Christmas-themed attraction park that failed to live up to its promises. The Lapland New Forest park promised an exciting Christmas experience, with reindeer, a bustling Christmas market, huskies and Father Christmas. The reality left a lot to be desired, given that it consisted of little more than a muddy yard with some fair-ground attractions, a hideous nativity scene, a ‘magical tunnel of light’ which turned out to be a few white Christmas trees with fairy lights on and a pen full of howling dogs.

While this sounds like something out of a hilarious comedy, the sad thing is that a lot of people seem to have been misled out of quite a lot of money (£30 per person). I can imagine I would have been utterly furious if I’d paid to go to this place.

The park’s website is currently down, but the BBC have some photos of what it really looks like.

Modbury, rain and seeds and stems

We’ve got yet another low-pressure system overhead now, so after a week or so of good weather, it’s back do murky drizzle. By accident of birth, this weather isn’t too depressing for me. Having grown up in south Devon (in England), drizzle and overcast skies act as a fond reminder of my halcyon days (which were mainly spent strolling through woods and fields, smoking cheap hashish and listening to John Peel’s radio show, taped from last week). My town, by good fortune, was featured in an article in yesterday’s Guardian. It’s to become the first plastic bag-free town in Europe! Go Modbury!

I’ve never written much about Modbury because I’ve not lived there in a long time. Gemma and I try to have every other Christmas out there and we’re going over for a friend’s wedding in July. Modbury’s a lovely place: built around two steep streets and a handful of pubs and farms, it’s an up-market holiday spot for media types and city traders. The countryside around it (particularly the private Flete estate) is sublime and at times, Modbury feels like it might be the best place in the world. When you’re fifteen, however, it can be a bit boring.

Idle hands do the Devil’s work. Perhaps all fifteen year-olds are permanently bored or listening to rock music? Just like most teenagers, we invested quite a lot of time and effort into getting stoned. Unlike today’s lucky youths who are generally able to lay their hands on hydroponically-farmed, acutely psychoactive sticky bud, in Modbury we seemed to be mostly confined to ‘soap bar’, the crappiest, least pure hash produced anywhere in the world. In many ways, it’s remarkable that we stuck at it. Sometimes, we walked for miles to buy a ‘teenth’ (1/16 of an ounce) – but then we had nothing better to do, so probably we would have been walking around aimlessly anyhow. Still, I guess that even though we didn’t realise it at the time, we were extremely lucky with where we grew up.

I am also very lucky to be living here in the suburbs of Barcelona. We’re very close to the Collserola park (a protected, forested bit of rocky parkland behind Barcelona), have a lovely terrace with plenty of afternoon sun, and Cerdanyola seems to be on the up and up at the moment. If you’re looking for a flat in Spain, make sure it’s got a terrace. This multi-functional extra wing of the house acts as a scullery, garden, dining room, sun deck and marijuana production facility (among many other things). There are few better things to do in April than spend a weekend in Amsterdam, fly back with some 100% feminised ‘White Rhino’ and ‘Great White Shark’ seeds and plant them. We have high hopes for this year’s crop (mainly because of the price of the seeds).

There is, however, one major problem with growing weed on your terrace (and I’m not talking about the… slightly shady legality of the enterprise). The biggest issue we’ve encountered so far (and it has become worse every year) is caterpillar infestation. This little bichos seem to love prime buds more than anything else in life. A brisk shake of the plant will get most of them off but it can also damage the plant’s stems and reduce the number of precious crystals on your crop. Insecticides should never be used on your weed, and particularly not during the flowering and fruiting stage. So this year, I’m going to employ biological weapons. It’s possible to by ladybirds and other voracious predators via mail order. I haven’t tried it before and I’m a little worried about my ladybirds flying away, just like my parrot did. But it’s worth a try. If you’ve got any other anti-caterpillar advice, I’m all ears.

Christmas in Foreign Lands

“Instead of the placid ox and ass of Bethlehem, we have for companions the ravening tiger and exotic camel, the furtive jackal and the ponderous elephant” (Evelyn Waugh, A Handful Of Dust)

Christmas in a foreign country is always slightly absurd. Traditions, food, the correct time for opening gifts – everything is turned on its head so thoroughly, you could almost believe that Christmas isn’t an English festival.

But Christmas is English, just like Hallowe’en and Guy Fawke’s day. What could be more English than roasted meat, boiled vegetables, gravy, silly hats and dodgy jokes? As Orwell wrote, “Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own.

This passage always reminds me of Modbury, Devon and home. Old fashioned? Yes. Stereotyped? Absolutely. But like it or not, that is a major part of the England I grew up in – a place which still has a feeling of continuity which I only rarely sense in Barcelona. If we travel to some of the more remote country towns here in Catalonia, I sometimes get a whiff of that continuity. Cerdanyola, however, has no redeeming features – especially not at this English time of year.

It seems to me that the reason Christmas seems so quintissentially English to me is that most of the ‘classic’ images of Christmas (except for those odd nativity scenes) are themselves quintissentially English. The snowy village with Victorian streetlamps, the frosty roofs and windows misted up, glowing with warmth against the bitter winter, holly and mistletoe, fights in the pub – all images typical of England. Well, my England anyway. And that’s the problem. When you grew up in a town so staid, traditional and olde-worlde picturesque like Modbury, Christmas actually is exactly like an old fashioned Christmas card to the tune of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’. And Christmas in Tarragona isn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about the opportunity to spend Christmas with Gemma’s family in the family town. I enjoy that. All I’m trying to do is explain how whatever they do, however much fun we have, however many fights they have in the local cerveceria, Christmas for me is English and old fashioned. I’m all for change but I’m really looking forward to next year.

Bon Nadal!

[This post was edited and updated on December 15th 2010]