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Do as the Andalusians...

The most appropriate thing to do in the face of the summer heat is to live like the Andalusians. One of my favourite changes that summer brings is dining "al fresco" (yes, I know this is not "do as the Romans" - but the phrase does fit). While some love to breakfast in the sunshine, I prefer to lunch on a shady terrace - especially if we have a light breeze. The cool of the evening is also a perfect time to have late meals outside. And this is where the help of an expert gardener can make all the difference as there is such a wide variety of aromatic plants that generously scent the warm air at night. Jasmine is probably the most popular, but I also love what Spaniards call "dama de noche". These aromas add the perfect touch to the evening outdoor dining experience and probably account for how late so many of us end up staying on the terrace after the meal is finished. Yes, eating outside from June to about mid October (if we're lucky) is delightful, enchanting and perhaps - for some - even romantic. But there is a very practical side to this practice: it keeps the mess of meals outdoors. As a busy, working mother, I for one, can appreciate that. And if you're really looking to integrate fully into local customs, then consider adding an outdoor kitchen to your dining area. This is a boon to the cook, who will no longer have to slave away in a hot kitchen. Again, the mess stays outside, and serving and clearing up is so much easier to manage. One other trick to summer dining in Andalucia is to prepare food in the morning and then either eat it cold or at room temperature (possibly heating it lightly in the good old microwave). It's also advisable to stick with salads, cold veggy soups (like gazpacho), fruit and yogurt as much as possible. While those of us from northern climes are used to hot meals, the body does indeed prefer cold dishes this time of year. Particularly if you plan to spend more than just a few days in the south of Spain during the heat of summer, it is highly advisable you take my advice and - do as the Andalusians!
Blog published on 14 June 2009