Speaking of THE election, it may come as a surprise to some of you but I am actually technically a citizen of the United States of America. Though of Dutch parentage I happened to be born there. However, I do not feel American having spent most of my life in Europe.
That is not entirely true.
I do feel some kind of allegiance, enough that I felt I had to stay up all night to see the sorrowful election results come in. It has been such a wretched campaign conducted without an iota of decorum that I felt I needed to witness it live. American or no, its outcome goes beyond my nationality and will mark in whatever way this troubled world.
Some months previously I emailed Harry’s Bar in Paris where traditionally the likes of Hemingway and all other displaced Americans would stay up all night and drink cocktails on election night. Harry’s Bar did not reply to my enquiry re “just turning up” or “reservation necessary” and Trip Advisor reviews were pretty watered down (like their cocktails these days it seems) so I gave the hair-brined idea a pass and came up with one of my own instead.
I would do “Cocktails con Stephanie” in the masia and I proceeded to phone around. Being the only Yank I know hereabouts, takers were not easy to find. You are crazy, Felix said, I have to work at 7am. Most just dropped their mobiles laughing at the absurdness of it. Some simply said “no”. One who simply said no actually changed his mind although he insisted the results were a foregone conclusion. No one in their right mind would vote for Trump. Ha.
I was not too sure. Having seen the surprise of Brexit and the strange behaviour of the FBI two weeks before the election, I was genuinely nervous. Americans are very welcoming, but they are also often naïve. Additionally, there seems to be a current of anger globally that is throwing spanners in the works.
Eventually I gathered a motley crew of unlikelies, me included in that description, and asked them to arrive at around 10.30pm. The day was spent preparing alcoholic concoctions. Although Rafa kindly offered to cook “the best vegetarian paella you will have ever had”, I prepared not one, but two rabbits chopped into bite size pieces and simmered in garlic, olive oil and mountains herbs just in case. I did not doubt Rafa, I was just a bit anxious as to the feasibility of “paella-ing”in the howling icy winds which had suddenly popped up that morning. No calm before the storm here. Going outside was a more or less horizontal affair and at one point the cane shutter of the paella hut was wrenched from its mooring.
As it was Rafa had no problem, and it gave him a chance to smoke his roll ups. The paella was the best veggie one I had ever had. In fact, I can honestly say it was the only one I have ever eaten. I was tempted to toss in some rabbit pieces, but did not want to be rude.
So back to earlier. I searched for election night cocktails and made a list of ingredients to buy. In my village that was a bit of a joke and so in the end I invented several cocktails, one pretty weird but appropriate for its name, “Dump Trump”. There was also “French Campaign”, ‘Hilarious Hillary” and “Armageddon”. I think that was just iced rocket fuel. I made my own sugar syrup out of xylitol and honey and in place of bitters which were not to be had for love of money, I grated lemon and orange pith. The base of each drink was put in the freezer, and I cut lemon and orange skin swirls as garnishes. The rabbit went in the oven to be heated up gently if required. It was never required.
Then I set up live streaming of the results in Spanish and English on my computer – Harvey emailed me the links. The wind was so violent by this time that I worried my little crazy idea might backfire with a loss of internet. I crossed my fingers and set a potpourri of unhealthy nibbles in pretty tapa bowls on the table.
Rafa came first with Mr. No, Pep, who I did not really know, but now I do and what a fine person he is, trailing cigarette ash or no. The main thing, they were up for whatever cocktail I chose so I started the night light with “French Campaign”. Why this name? Well, it was Champagne, ok cheap cava, with a bit of cassis, sugar syrup and other stuff, and much like England and the USA, the winds of change are blowing in France.
Political slant aside, this cocktail was very refreshing and after two we felt surprisingly stone cold sober so we went on to “Dump Trump”. That was truly horrible and took the hairs off every bit of our body apart from our heads. There they stood on end. I think it was the spicy smoked paprika.
By now Mig had arrived, as well as Trillo and his wife Atena. I just kept on mixing the cocktails while we all cast an anxious eye at the computer screen. “Hilarious Hilary” went down like a an extremely potent bomb. Meanwhile Rafa was whipping up his paella in the wind, entering once in a while for a top-up and request for another kind of bowl. Pep served as sous chef and scattered his ashes in everything.
We were 6. One did not make it. We ate. The first results starting coming in. I groaned. Oh, don’t worry, the rest said. Its early doors. Hilary of course will win. It got worse and worse. By 3am we were all transfixed in a corner, by now drinking shots of “Armageddon” and those who smoke, smoking in the house!. At 4am, I knew it would be like Brexit and regrettably fell asleep on the sofa.
You know the rest. At 5am America lost its chance to elect its first woman president. I woke briefly for that, and also to take the rabbit out of the oven. Like the UK, America gave in to anger. Like Hilary, I blame the FBI.