The last time we took Andy’s stepmother, Marge, to La Laguna it didn’t so much rain cats and dogs, as lions and hyenas. So her impression of it wasn’t the most favourable.
During her visit this year we took her again when the sun was shining, determined that she would get to see its beautifully preserved old town at its best.
We wandered around cobbled streets, explored hidden courtyards and atmospheric old churches, crossed Tiananmen sized squares and strolled around the farmer’s market where rows of stalls displayed the salted fish and the most perfect vegetables; some, like the green and purple cauliflowers, I’d never seen before.
It was all going well until it was time for lunch. On our meandering we’d passed the most alluring tapas bars, but Marge is of the generation where adventurous cuisine means trying a brand of cheddar that’s unfamiliar, so we had to forego the trendy tapas bars for somewhere which had ‘toasties’ on the menu.
As a compromise we picked the rather oddly named ‘Pearl of the Caribbean’ café on Plaza del Adelantado which seemed to have a menu to cover all persuasions. To be fair, it wasn’t a hardship, the plaza’s a lovely place for a leisurely lunch.
The waiter handed us some menus, but before we had a chance to peruse them, recommended that we try the house speciality, the arepas.
These are corn pancakes which are filled, then fried; a speciality from Venezuela. Andy and I hadn’t tried them for a long time, so decided to go with his suggestion. The waiter turned his attention to Marge.
Without even glancing in his direction, she said to Andy. “Tell him I want a cheese and ham toastie.”
When the waiter heard this, he rolled his eyes and started lecturing Marge about being typically British, wanting the same food abroad as she has at home. All done good-naturedly of course, and with a smile on his face.
This didn’t endear him to Marge for a couple of reasons:
- He had the audacity to speak to her in Spanish.
- Although she didn’t have a clue what he was saying, she got the gist that he was mocking her and she doesn’t like the idea of her choice of a toastie lunch being questioned.
She also felt that we’d been bullied into having arepas despite our reassurances that, as the place did actually specialise in arepas, we did actually fancy trying them.
There was another Venezuelan dish on the menu, cachapas. I hadn’t tried them before, so I asked the waiter what they were like.
“You don’t want to try them, too much fat. Eat a lot of them…or toasted sandwiches,” he added; another dig at Marge. “And you’ll end up fat. Stick to arepas and you’ll be like me.” He was whip thin.
I liked this guy. The cachapas were double the price of the arepas, yet here he was, pushing what was probably the cheapest thing on the menu. You’ve got to trust someone’s judgement when they do something like that.
That’s La Laguna for you; a town with bags of old fashioned charm and honest waiters. Although, if you asked Marge she’d probably tell you it was the place where it rained a lot and waiters tried to bully you into having something you didn’t want.
The arepas, by the way, were delish. Although, admittedly I could have managed two, but I didn’t dare tell the waiter that.