Friday, 31 December 2010

End of year push.

Well, 2010 is rushing to a close. A year ago we were wondering if we would get back to Spain because of snow and ice and ash clouds possibly preventing planes from taking off. And here we are this year in the UK still undecided about our future but still feeling the pull of Spain in general and Galicia in particular.

One thing I’m not missing from Galicia is the percebe, the goose barnacle, which is apparently selling around €170 a kilo and is being snatched up for the Nochevieja feast. People were queuing up at O Berbés fish market in Vigo for this and other shellfish ready for tonight’s celebratory meal. While I love most mariscos, I have to say that the percebe doesn’t do a great deal for me.

On the subject of food I came across a gastronomic blog by one Mikel
López Iturriaga the other day. He was listing things he hopes will disappear in 2011: badly soundproofed restaurants where you can more easily hear the conversations of all the other diners than the one going on at your own table; piped music in restaurants making conversation impossible; what he describes as “froth”, in other words restaurants trying to mask poor ingredients with fancy presentation; boring interviews with celebrity chefs; the continuing rise in the price of tapas and pinchos, a consequence according to the blogger of the increased popularity of cocina española.

Meanwhile there are rather a lot of ladies in Spain hoping to end 2010 by giving birth before they have to eat the 12 grapes which herald in the New Year. Back in 2007 the Spanish government introduced a payment of €2,500 for each child born in the country, as a way of encouraging couples to have more children and thus reverse the falling birth-rate. It even led to a scurrilous cartoon in a satirical magazine suggesting that Prince Felipe and his wife should get busy and earn their bonus. Now the government has decided to cut this bonus payment because of the financial problems of the country.

Consequently ladies whose babies are due on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd of January or even later into the month are doing all they can to bring forward their delivery date. Requests for induced birth and arrangements for elective caesarean have increased. Doctors are faced with another ethical dilemma. And we have a strange reversal of New Year’s birth stories. Usually there is a kind of competition to have the first New Year’s baby and get your picture in the paper. Now, if the baby is born at one minute past midnight the new mum is going to be disgruntled at being out of pocket by €2,500, missing out on the cheque bebé.

Feel sorry for the poor child: not only should she have been a boy but she should have been born a little earlier and earned a bit of money for mamá and papá. Poor thing!

That’s one source of income out of the way. Maybe, in Galicia at least, they should be taking heart from a little something that came my way recently. As part of the Christmas madness we had a visit from my brother in law who brought us, as he often does, a collection of cuttings from newspapers, mostly chess-related but this year including an advertisement placed in a financial magazine by the Xunta de Galicia. Asking the question “Why Invest in Galicia?”, it invited people interested in investing in Europe to take a look at to find out about the grants available to new investors. Let’s hope it attracts some money to the region and creates a few jobs.

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