Having recently bragged that Alcalá played host to, em, a host of Hollywood actors and directors creating the epic Spartacus, I am delighted to claim bragging rights for my adopted town once more.
Alcalá (drum roll) is the Romanian capital of Spain! One in ten residents of the town is from Romania. (I´m not one of them, claro. I´m not even in anybody´s book of statistics).
The reason why so many Romanians reside in this town is unclear. While the whole of the Corredor del Henares (towns along the course of the River Henares as well as the railway line) has become popular with all immigrants because of its proximity to Madrid, Alcalá´s greater drawing power for the rumanos is hard to explain.
A biased person would argue that the former Arab fortification of Alqal´a Nahar and Roman city of Complutum is just downright fancier than the functional dormitory towns along the way to the capital.
I´m that biased person. And we have storks, na na na na na!
Thorough and profound immigration theory over with, let´s talk shop. As in the case of any substantial immigrant influx, Romanians must have their grub. Moving to a country with a culinary brilliance bordering on the divine has not dampened their taste for their own cooking. So Alcalá has several Romanian-owned shops catering to the nostalgia for nosh from this former Communist State (and what a state it was in).
Being British, I tend to think that bread is bread is bread, but these fussy Romanians demand their own pâine. This leads to signs in Spanish panaderías advertising Romanian bread – in Romanian. Not only this, but one of the big supermarket chains, Ahorra Más, has a full line of produse romanesti…. and I´m sure they´re not alone.
So what do they eat? I found out, paradoxically, a few years ago when I went all the way to Bucharest. I tried mici (pronounced “meetch”), little sausages made of beef, lamb and pork meat and absolutely to die for. I could´ve saved myself the Easyjet flight since I later discovered that my own butcher prepares this sausagemeat for his Romanian customers, but you live and learn. And see Bucharest!
Mici also seems to mean “li´l purritat” so here´s a photo of both sausages and soft kitties for your delight and delectation.
Along with a Romanian white wine that was a dead ringer for my beloved Rueda, I also had mamaliga which Yukipedia describes as a “porridge made out of yellow maize flour.” This sounds as awful as its Scottish relative, but it´s actually pleasant…. though not as delicious as Scots Porridge Oats with water, milk and salt!
Another wonderful dish was a cold, aubergine purée. I loved this, especially since berenjenas are my favourite veggies.
So, to conclude. The Romanians, well-educated Latins, have enriched Alcalá with their culture, of which I´ll write more soon.