Para Tomar or Drinking in Local Colour

No sangría, sidra

Sidra, por favor

If you asked for the name of a favourite Spanish drink, the first answer would be sangria.  However, sidra, cider in English, remains a popular regional beverage in Asturias, a province of northern Spain. 

The traditional light apple cider, fermented and packaged like champagne gives this regional classic a certain nobility.  Traditionally, perhaps now folklorically, sidra is poured from on high, a glowing fountainlike flow created by holding the bottle up and the glass low. This cider’s alcohol content is similar to beer’s. Light and now available in a non-alcoholic version, Asturian sidra should be sold everywhere, yet it remains limited to Spain, some Hispanic marketplaces, and Spanish specialty stores.

One renowned brand uses the gaitero as name and image. Again, many consider Spain to be a land of white villages, gypsies and sangria; whereas the northern provinces (Gallicia and Asturias) resemble Scotland more than anything else.  Many residents have a Celtic air about them.  This influence appears in Gallego and Asturiana music  so the bagpipe player (gaitero) suits sidra perfectly. The old-fashioned image appearing here gives you some local colour.

Given the cool damp climate, Asturians do not shy away from a drink to warm up or to mark an occasion. Besides fine Spanish sherry or brandy, Asturias possesses is Anis de Asturias. Every self-respecting local must have on hand one long tall shiny bottle for guests.  If not drunk often enough, the mouth of the bottle accumulates sugar. In a region known for gastronomy and hospitality, you do not see this phenomenon often.

In One Dress, One Day, there is a reference to one character’s family  cider business, but the regional anise liquor plays a more important role when the farm family of Uno, Nieves and Mother reunites and takes a celebratory sip.  In fact, later, Uno, the blind son and lottery ticket-seller, recalls the licora.

Uno decided to break the news as gently as possible to Mother only after she got up. That nip of licora had really put her to sleep.  He could easily justify buying the four extra loaves in gratitude for the driver’s bringing them news.  Right then, Uno felt not so much fear but more a sense of purpose, of belonging with Nieves, Mother, and the farm, even the province. He thanked the driver again and headed back upstairs on tiptoe.”

To be continued…

¡Salud!

SALUD or to your health!

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