2003  Christmas Eve Dinner

               Hosts Antonio Jimenez y Ramon and Marta de Domecq de Jimenez

Jackie and Marta met our first Saturday in October when Jackie returned from the supermarket carrying a large tote bag full of groceries.  It happened to be blowing between 40 and 50 mph that day.  One of the power boats had stored their inflatable dinghy in the middle of the dock in front of Marta II, the fishing boat which Antonio and Marta use for pleasure.  Anyway Jackie swung the tote bag behind her as she tried to ease past the dinghy, the wind caught the bag, and the bag tripped Jackie who lunged forward to keep from falling, the net result being a torn hamstring and a dramatic entry.

Seeing Jackie’s discomfort, Marta rushed off her boat and helped Jackie aboard SHIBUMI.  As it happens, Marta had been hit by a motorcycle the year before and her hip was still recovering so she recognized the grimace and the limp.

During the next few months, Antonio and Marta took us into their home to share many meals and to teach us how the Spanish cook.  The first, and most special event, was Christmas dinner.

We arrived at  8:30 pm as requested, relaxed in the living room, and were offered Iberian ham, the “good fat” kind, and Andalucian cheese, a semi-hard pungent cheese similar to parmesan.  Both were sliced and served on silver accompanied by fine old Domecq sherry, unavailable to the general public but enjoyed by Marta as a member of the Domecq family.

We even received lessons on how to shop for the best Iberian ham.  When Antonio buys the seasonal leg of ham, among other things, he looks for a worn hoof, not a smooth one, which indicates that the animal was wild and not domesticated. Not something we might have considered…

After a short respite, our hosts suggested that we move into the dining room to begin dinner.

Our first course was gravlax or marinated fresh salmon which had been prepared by the family.  The traditional accompaniments of white toast, chopped hard boiled egg, caviar, chopped onion, and capers were abundant.  This course was served with a choice of wines.

The second course was roast pheasant accompanied by a thin, delightful gravy. We were warned that the pheasant were wild and to be aware of gun shot which might still be present!  Antonio shared a wonderful 1976 tinto which he nurtured  in his wine cellar to serve at special events.  We were glad that this one qualified!

The final course in the dining room was the Christmas pudding which Jackie had given to Marta as a gift from Gibraltar.  Marta had revealed that she was raised by an Irish nanny who share her Christmas pudding with Marta.  The entire meal was graciously served by their daughter Marta.

After the dessert, we retired back to the living room at midnight where Christmas music was added to the festivities.  Then all of us danced until 1:30 am while we enjoyed coffee and Spanish Christmas pastries.

During the next three months, we shared more  visits and meals with Antonio and Marta. Antonio taught us how to cook seafood rice and steamed mussels.  We were delighted to be included in the family’s Christmas celebrations and thankful to learn more about the culture of Andalucia from a native family.