One would think that, liking each of these parts individually, I would therefore like the whole, as the whole is usually more than the sum of its parts.  Well, one would be wrong.  Very, very wrong.

About my second month into my life in Spain, I had begun to assume that there was nothing that my Spanish senora (the mother in my host family) could *not* make.  And make really, really well.  Somehow, this woman managed to turn what is essentially noodle soup (like cup-a-noodles) into a divine creation that you just wanted to slurp day and night, even in 90+ degree weather.

Her paella was such that, to this day, I will not even attempt to make it or order it anywhere, because I know that nothing will ever live up the rendition that she lovingly fussed over every Sunday and which I looked forward to like a salivating dog knowing that their master was bringing home ribs and that I was going to get all the bones to myself.  Just the words “a comer” on a Sunday afternoon was enough to start me drooling!

So it was that, one weeknight, for dinner, she introduced me to what I am told is a traditional Spanish dish.  One that is simple and light, and that is beloved the country over.  Which is also why I think that the Spanish must have a screw loose somewhere.  What she set before me, as I mentioned, was something that by all accounts *should* have been tasty.  It was simply rice, an egg and tomato sauce.  But, and I emphasize this, it was *how* they came together that made my stomach churn.  It was the one dish that I ate my entire time there that I couldn’t even pretend to like.  And this includes the cold Spam pizza that she was served (no joke – even that was better).

What made this so hideous, you ask?  Well, for starters, it was cold.  Ice cold.  As in, sitting in the fridge all day, cold.  The rice was pre-cooked, dry and now moist from having been in the fridge all day.  Plus, it was conveniently formed into the shape of the small cup in which it had sat all day, soaking up the various flavors of whatever else was in the fridge.  Then, on top of that, she put a cold, long-ago-fried egg.  I hate fried eggs.  I love eggs, don’t get me wrong – scrambled, in omelettes, etc – just not fried.  And especially not a cold, old, fried egg.  Finally, on top of rice and the egg was a mash of crushed, once-again, cold tomato sauce.  Like someone had thrown a tomato on the floor, picked it up (ten-second rule!) and then poured the remnants on top of the rice and egg.

The fact that I sat there, twitching after barely being able to swallow the first (and penultimate) bite, watching the rest of the family very nearly literally scarf their plates of that stuff almost made it even worse than it already was.

I have eaten a lot of strange stuff, some of it during that time in Spain, but to this day, this dish still stands out as one of the few things that I could not, just could *not* eat.  It ranks up there with taro and sago (kids, yeah, I have an idea!  Why don’t we see if we can cut down a tree, mash the hell out of the bark and then boil it so that it resembles snot in both taste and texture – I bet that will taste great!).

Traveller Tip:  When in Spain, avoid the rice / fried egg / tomato sauce dish.  Or at least have a lot of Sangria to wash it down.  Strong Sangria.

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