life imitating art

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Every year there is a competition for the official posters for Semana Santa and the Fiestas de Primavera. This year’s winner for the latter is Nuria Barrera. Called La Alma de Sevilla (Soul of Sevilla) it is a still life full of Sevillano symbolism.

Hanging in the wardrobe are three nazareno tunics from the Macarena, Los Negritos and Amargura brotherhoods, alongside two flamenco dresses by local designer Lina. On the wardrobe shelf above there is a wide-brimmed straw hat trimmed with a Triana green ribbon, plus silk shawls and gypsy accessories. Below we can see a drum from the Maestro Tejera band and some clothes worn by costaleros. Hanging on the left-hand door is a 2013 Easter poster (by the same author) of the Immaculate Conception of Murillo, a picture of El Cachorro and a sticker from the 1992 Expo’92. On the right door of the wardrobe there is a mirror with the Giralda being reflected through an open balcony.

Other details include a pot of red carnations and rosemary, corresponding nazareno footwear under each tunic, the traditional striped cushion used at the bullring, polka-dot flamenco shoes and an enea (wicker) chair with a capirote and hood from the Macarena hermandad. Classic Sevillano floor tiling completes the scene. Seriously, this is The Very Best Poster I have ever seen for the fiestas and I seriously want one.

alma sevilla 2

Meanwhile, my good friend Ania Marchlik came across this bit of wonderfulness. Just around the corner from the San Juan de la Palma church, in calle Viriato, a lovely gentleman has recreated this poster in his patio and has left the doors open so people can admire his handiwork. I found the house yesterday and the man was standing in the doorway with Semana Santa music coming from inside the house, and he was inviting people to go in and have a look. Here you can see them together…

alma sevilla

las mantillas

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My absolutely favourite days of Semana Santa are Thursday and Friday when the women dressed in black with their magnificent lace mantillas come out in force. They are everywhere, and they are wonderful. Ostensibly they are mourning the recent death of Jesus Christ, but they are also totally into looking fabulous. I see no issue with this, though I have a preference for the more mature women who are into looking classy while they mourn (younger women doing “sexy mourning” with short tight dresses and stiletto heels leave me cold).

mantilla photo op next to my old house (on the left)

mantillas & cervecitas

semana santa 2017

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Semana Santa kind of snuck up on me this year, most likely because I was away in London the week before. And by the time I got back – blam! – it was already starting to happen. I still get caught out by the “pre-Semana Santa” processions, so that means getting around town madness begins even earlier.

This year I didn’t actually make any plans to see a particular procession, other than the Borriquita on Palm Sunday. The rest of the time I was just out and about in the afternoon (usually before or after a tapas tour) and them – blam! – came across a procession. So I didn’t see any processions at night this time around.

Maybe next year I won’t do any tapas tours during Semana Santa so I can take the week to get back into it (because it does take energy and planning). I do love it, for reasons I can’t explain. I just do.

La Borriquita nazarenos returning to Salvador Church

La Borriquita paso depicts Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, El Cerro procession

handing out estampitas during the San Bernardo procession

El Cristo de la Salud, San Bernardo procession

Jesús de la Paz, Carmen Doloroso procession

fran & kaz

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I kind of hit the ground running after getting back from my London Getaway. I had already planned to get together with Jane & John and Sue & Monty, but before those meet ups took place I had the pleasure of being introduced (via email by Annie Manson) to Fran & Kaz Kuzui. Fran & Kaz were travelling around Andalucía, doing some research on Japanese influence on southern Spanish cuisine, and would also be spending a couple of days in Sevilla, so we arranged to meet the evening after I got home from London. They had also tried to meet up with my friend Tomoko in Jerez, but there had been an email glitch, and so I invited Tomoko to come and stay over so we could all go out together.

It was a fabulous evening. Fran is a native New Yorker who now lives in Tokyo with her husband Kaz. Aside from being film producers and art lovers, they are both also food & wine lovers, and as usual Sevilla worked its magic on them. By the end of the evening we had all become fast friends and F & K were already talking about planning a return visit to Andalucía. Come back soon! xx

sue & monty

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I have “known” travel and food writer Sue Style on Twitter for a few years now, and we’ve even collaborated on a couple of articles about Sevilla and Andalucía. So I was thrilled to find out we were finally going to have a chance to meet in person.

Sue and her husband Monty were travelling with friends in Jerez and said they would have a free day in Sevilla before their flight left on the evening of lunes santo (Holy Monday) at the start of Semana Santa. This turned out to be a bit trickier than I had considered, with traffic issues and whatnot, but in the end we managed to get together for a lovely afternoon tapeo.

After a plate of perfectly sliced jamón Ibérico and some fabulous Goya manzanilla pasada at Las Teresas we headed over to La Azotea Santa Cruz for our “main course”. One of our favourite dishes was the courgette and anchovy salad with frozen grated goat cheese. Sue loved it so much she was inspired to create her own version of it when she got home to Alsace.

As we have a mutual friend in San Sebastián – the lovely Gabriella Ranelli of Tenedor Tours (aka Shawn of the North 😉 ) – I’m thinking it would be fun to organize a San Sebastián meetup that would half-way for Sue and me.

Stay tuned…

jane & john

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A few weeks ago Jane & John got in touch with me, saying they were coming to Sevilla and that our mutual friend Simon Majumdar had recommended that they look me up. Well, it turned out that they were arriving in Sevilla the very day I was leaving for London, but happily they were going to still be here when I got back. Jane had already done some Serious Research on my Sevilla Tapas website, and I also gave them some extra tips to keep them going. And then we finally met up!

Peter also joined us on what ended up being one of our favourite things – an afternoon Tapeo Extremo with new friends – which of course properly began in Bar Las Teresas with a plate of jamón and some chilled manzanilla. A few bars and many glasses of wine later we walked J & J back to their apartment (turns out they were also neighbours!) with full bellies and lots of nice memories.

I think Jane put it best when she wrote on her Facebook page…

Love it when we travel and come home with the best souvenir of all: a new friend!

Yep, she’s even got me “slumming” on FB now  😉  since she refuses to use any other social media. Honestly, the things I do for my friends…

Good times! And although J & J say they seldom return to the same place, they are considering another Andalusian adventure. Fingers crossed.

morcilla is 4!

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It’s hard to believe this little monkey is already 4! This is a pic of her the weekend I brought all the siblings home to see which one I bonded with the most. As you can see, Morcilla was determined that I pick her. And I’m so glad I did.

Happy Birthday darling girl!

Morcilla also shares a birthday with my beloved Azar – they were born on the same day 18 years apart.

home again…

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This didn’t really count as a “last day in London” since we basically just got up, got dressed, had a quick coffee and then got an Uber at 9 am to the train station, which then got us to the airport in plenty of time. But you know… all I could think about was seeing (and snibbling) the cats again. And this is where I say thank you once again (because I told her lots before, during and after the trip) to my friend Ania who stayed at Casa Azahar while we were away, and looked after my darlings.

For Ania it was also a bit of a treat because she loves cats but can’t have any of her own as she travels so much. And it was also a bit of a “staycation” in that she got to live in the centre of town for almost a week. I knew she would take good care of the beasts, and she didn’t even mind the list of “stupid cat rules” on the fridge door. But what I appreciated most was Ania sending me daily pics of the cats, because she knew how much I would be missing them. Especially that little monkey, Morcilla.

Muchas gracias Ania!