Valencia, Take #4
The two men ahead of me are hesitant. Even after lifting the lid on the cool, delicious concoction, they slowly shake their heads and turn away. I am at a horchata stand in Valencia’s Plaça de l’Ajuntament and the vendor is giving me a stupefied look. “They don’t know what they are missing out on… people think it’s milk, but horchata is so much more than that!”
I am quick to agree, stopping just one step short of announcing my love for the drink and the city which it has come to represent. I don’t know how it happens but Valencia is one of those places where I often feel like a local – even if it’s blatantly obvious that I am from the far side of earth, or more accurately 1/37 of the way to the Moon.
But I digress. Every time I return here I end up discovering something new. Within the eastern part of the old city I stumble across the Plaza San Vicente Ferrer, a square that few visitors go to because it’s not marked on the maps supplied by El Corte Inglés (Spain’s ultimate department store). And somewhere in the maze of central streets my friends take me to the Zumería, the ideal place for a catch-up over great big copas of luscious alcoholic smoothies.
It sounds pretentious right? Well, let me tell you that Valencia is anything but… even if the exuberant mayor loves her opera houses and expensive lampposts.
Just by if you did not know 😛
The football or soccer team in Valencia ( Valencia Fotball Club) has as a symbol in its shield, a black bat 😛
So the bat is, somehow , related with the city I guess.
Yes, I kept wondering why the bat was part of the shield… fortunately my Valencian friends were there to tell me the story behind it!
Horchata sounds so good right now.. as does that paella!
What beautiful details in the architecture.
I also like that the bat is jumping off of a crown.
You’ll find that Horchata is pretty much the Spanish version of soy milk! The best part of any paella is the crispy layer of rice at the very bottom – you know, the part that sticks to the pan. They call it “soccarat”.
Legend has it that the night before the Crown of Aragon recaptured Valencia from the Moors, a bat flew into the king’s tent and perched itself on his shield. He took it to be a good omen. When the battle was won, the bat became a permanent feature of the city’s coat of arms.
Ohhhh that makes so much more sense and is an awesome story!
Is that why batman always wins? 😉
The crispy part of rice dishes in Japan are called “okoge.” How funny that both cultures seem to love the crispy bits at the bottom. Though it really is the best part!
Haha, maybe you’re right. 😛
On my travels through Spain I picked up a lot of cultural similarities… deep down there is actually a lot in common with China and Japan. One being an intense love of pork and a willingness to use every single part of the pig!
Regarding similarities between Valencia and China, it is true that they have a lot in common: they grow rice and oranges, they like gunpowder, kites (in April there is a festival where the sky is filled with kites), and it is where the sun rises (respect to the rest of Spain)
intense being an understatement! 🙂