Ibiza History Culture

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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

Some of the Ibiza History Culture sleuths asked me what The Ten Things I Took Home From Ibiza were going to be before I had even taken them.

Non-foodies should go to paragraph eleven now. For the rest of you, here goes:

1). Some pre-Roman "Torres" sea salt. A kilo of it. They call it "sal" and it comes in a flimsy plastic bag that perforates easily and can destroy the entire contents of your suitcase if you don't wrap it up in a Harvey Nick's carrier bag. You also have to recognise how precious this is, not simply because it makes your food taste better, but because easyjet.com only allow your suitcase to weigh the equivalent of twenty five of these bags, or 25 bags of any other kind of white powdery stuff, come to that.

2). A slender bottle of "Lau" chilli sauce. Try as they may to make it look as if it's foreign (i.e., not Spanish) by putting "Piri Piri" on the label, this is hot, bright red, dribbly Spanish firewater. You slug some into a tumbler already brim full of vodka, tomato juice and Worcestershire sauce made in Worcester. Nowadays I just watch other people do it and I delight in them thinking it's like Tabasco and then it makes their eyes pop out like Gary's rats when one of the cats gets them at night. It contains water, vinegar, pounded chilli, and some of that salt. It's the colour of your blood on the way back from your heart rather than on the tortuous journey there. It's on this list because unlike the salt it's not heavy and in fact weighs in total only as much as a reasonable cocktail.

3). Wooden toothpicks. Not many people realise that the Spanish undervalue wooden toothpicks. You can buy a big cardboard box wrapped in cellophane holding six hundred of the flat ones (the Spanish word for them is palillos) for about one third of a Euro and the lovely thing is that it says "Planos higienicos" on the label as well as "cure dents plats" and though I haven't a clue what any of that means it looks as though it says it will do your teeth good. (I also got some poncy round ones in a plastic shaker, but I think that by the time you come to shake them out at the end of a mostly liquid lunch you'll hurl them all over the floor like someone who's not necessarily going to remain your friend. However, they only cost about tuppence).

4). The saffron. In my time I've had Turkish and Mexican saffron, but nothing compares with the real stuff from Spain. Certainly nothing in Manchester compares with the cost here and I'm still finding it hard to believe I've got 5g of the stuff for about a fiver whereas in Harrod's food hall it would be the equivalent of Osama Bin Liner's ransom once he's out of his cave.

5). Two for one. These are the "Ducron" tins of paprika. There's Pimenton "dulce," which sounds soft, like Emily's voice, and "picante" which sounds like Kirk when it's his turn to make the tea. The contents of the last one I took home ten years ago can still make a roast chicken go an interesting, burnished colour, but the tin went rusty after the toilet flooded over. Don't ask.

6). Powder to make paella look the right colour. It comes in little folded up paper packets in boxes of ten sachets for six portions each. I'm contemplating who the right five people should be to accompany me for this feast, on the basis that the Ibiza History Culture team is unlikely to turn up all at once in Haughton Green. There are two kinds and I've got them both. There's "Carmencita", which has the prettiest packaging, but they leak worse than the salt, and the ones Gary recommends, called - for some irksome reason - "El Aeroplano" which sport a crude drawing of an old Focker on the cover.

7). A wooden spatula. I'm horrified by the number of plastic spatulas I must have eaten as they melt into the bacon and eggs and the metal ones destroy even the sturdiest non-stick frying pans. I never see wooden spatulas in England and this wooden job cost 215 Pesetas from a hardware shop and set me musing about software shops, which stopped me thinking about how long it will be before I've eaten this one as well.

8). The tobacco. I am going to stop smoking, but not before I've got through this ridiculously cheap stuff. Golden Virginia here costs just under half the price of the black market variety commonly available in English pubs. The only other thing worth saying about it is that they think they are fooling the tourists by selling it in 40g packs instead of 50g, but as they only charge a quarter of the price it would be churlish to complain, even in the shop where they still owe me a fiver (I hadn't the heart to mention it).

9). A truffle. Now in England we think truffles are chocolates, but nonetheless exotic. Real truffles are snuffled out from near tree roots by pigs and are rare and thus expensive. This little jar gets in here because it is so small and only cost a few Euros. It will go in one omelette when I can find the right person to share it with for breakfast and no doubt she will also be able to spell omelette.

10). The Ibiza History Culture cards. I have a hundred Ibiza History Culture cards with this website address and they will be distributed at the World Travel Exhibition in London next week. The Balearic tourist people have a stand there and I will be standing nearby. Gosh, we do get about!

Hello again non-foodies. You will be pleased to know I didn't mention sobrasada sausages once.

I cannot resist an eleventh thing. It's the memories I take back that are more important than anything that fits into a suitcase.

Sinclair Newton