Pamela Cooper

In Spain PAMELA COOPER discovers that some say butter when they mean lard

In Arcos de la Frontera, we stayed in an ancient house on the edge of a 180m drop to a river below.

Arcos de la Frontera, Spain, 2012: Spent four nights in this jewel of a Spanish hilltop town in La Casa Grande, an ancient house on the edge of a 180m drop to a river below. The barrier between me and the drop was a thigh-high wall. If you leaned out, the updraught would take a wig off.

On our first night, we went off in search of tapas for supper and found Cafe St Marco, a cosy bar. Since it was 8.30 pm and far too early for the locals to eat, we were were the only patrons. No Spanish from us, no English from the welcoming young owners, but after some sign language we enjoyed a good gazpacho with chopped veg, goat’s cheese melted on crostini with raspberry jam and chopped almonds (mmm!), cold rice with onion, crabsticks, peppers, corn, tomatoes and fish fritters.

Then we ordered the “pork loin in butter”. A plate laden with a mound of white stuff flecked with shreds of meat was placed on the table. After a tentative taste, I found it was cold lard (pork fat). All I could think of was a very clogged artery and we valiantly scraped all the ‘butter’ off the meat. A waitress who had a smattering of English explained that this was considered a treat to be eaten on bread (hence the butter) with fresh tomato sauce.

We had a good laugh but (triple) by-passed on eating the “butter” all the same.