9:15 AM January 19, 2023
Bar Alfalfa, Sevilla, Spain:
I walk into a staccato of Spanish. Loud. Animated. Relentless. It sounds like a fight is about to break out, yet it ends with a slap on the back, a hug.
The music is similarly loud—Spanish pop? Show tunes? Easy listening opera?
A woman behind the bar wears a t-shirt that says, “Yes we caña.”
The Bar Alfalfa is small, rhomboid-shaped (for those who remember high school geometry). Across the far end—where the kite’s cross spar would go—is the bar. Behind the bar, four women are preparing for the onslaught.
Covering the sparse floor space are five two-person high tops. In addition, stools line every vacant nook: under the windows, against the bar, next to randomly placed wall shelves.
Within an hour, every chair will be occupied.
It’s dark inside, the impact of narrow streets on large windows. Dark, but not gloomy.
Above the bar at about eight feet, a 4-foot-wide mezzanine houses a collection of dustables—2 oxen yokes, a wagon wheel, old time wooden rakes, a smattering of jerobaums, enormous clay pots. Cisterns? Wine holders? I have no idea.
Evidence of dusting is not evident.
Eight ham legs dangle in a row over the center of bar from the faux ceiling/mezzanine—each with an inverted Dixie-cup-sized plastic pyramid stuck into the hip to catch the dripping fat. A few dozen bottles of Spanish red wine await on a shelf.
A trio of black lamps—the sort you see lining the streets in Victorian England—hang near the hams. Light emanates from a random assortment of bulbs.
I think of the most beautifully illuminated city I’ve ever seen—Budapest, Hungary—where a standardized bulb is dictated everywhere along the Danube, creating a stunning, homogeneous glow.
This is not that.
Above the faux-ceiling kitsch, from the 8 foot level to the top (14 feet? 16?), twenty or more two-foot square cubbies line the walls collectively holding hundreds and hundreds of seemingly inaccessible bottles of wine.
Below, on a workbench behind the bar, is a blue crate of oranges. A bowl holds those that have been cut. Fresh orange juice is everywhere in Seville. It’s never been part of my breakfast routine—until now.
Next to the oranges, a ham leg is splayed out on a cutter, hoof akimbo, the meaty part covered with foil. Ham cutting is an art here, a profession. The ham slices must be uniform, as thin as tissue paper. Ham legs in Seville are more ubiquitous than the oranges.
A slate board announces the prices. Desayuno is not translated to breakfast (It’s rare that I stop anywhere that offers a posted English menu translation).
This tiny place is everything I expected—hoped for—in Seville.
Customers are gathering.
A woman takes out a bottle of what looks like hand sanitizer and pours it into her coffee.
I finish my café con leche.
We start our day.
Categories: Western Europe
Sounds like a wonderful adventure. Love your stories Juile. It’s been a while since I have been able to read them. Perfect day to catch up. Snow storm weather and good reading ❤️
Thanks Mary. I do like to read on a snowy day.
I felt like I was there 🙂
That would have been fun!