The Palace in Madrid is considered #3 in Europe behind the Schonnburn and Versailles. It was beautiful, as most interiors are, and they did not care for visitors to take any pictures – although we tried. This palace holds the record for the number of times our group had to be approached by a guard for some rule infraction. Granted we probably should have known that kicking around a soccer ball in their fancy courtyard was going to be frowned upon. The palace tour includes their armory which was quite extensive. They had a number of coordinated horse, suit, shield and sword ensembles. I’m still trying to figure out why there was so much artistry for something that was going to be beaten up. And why would the kings want to have so many sparkly jewels on their outfit? -Wouldn’t that just make them an easy target for the enemy? I’m not sure medieval knights were really thinking through the whole war strategy thing.
Despite the grandeur of the palace it is really just an afterthought for our day. Our real treat was a dinner with our new Madrid friends: Juan, Charo, Ana, Sara, Samuel and Lorena. In fact this evening will be one of the highlights of our time in Europe. This wonderful family lived in Fishers Indiana for a year and their children attended Camp Tecumseh where our daughters met. They were so gracious to open their home to all TEN members of the Friend family.
All of the guidebooks, research and walking around do not compare to the cultural insights we gleaned from visiting around this family’s dinner table. So many questions we asked ourselves this week were answered. From why there is no peanut butter, to their social service structure. There was also a bit of shop talk as Kenda and Juan both have connections from their work in Global Agriculture. Jaun and Charo took advantage of their time in the United States and it seemed they visited just about as may national parks and cities as we did while touring in the RV. It was great fun to browse their scrap book and refrigerator magnet collection and recognize so many places.
It is a miracle we were able to talk at all, the food was so spectacular that you could not get enough of it. Charo made us a regional dish, Paella, it is a delicious mixture of chicken, rabbit, rice and vegetables. The picture at the top is Kaden and Samuel with our dinner just before it was dished up – don’t you wish that computers had a scratch and sniff option? The only reason I didn’t have more is because having 3rds bordered on gluttony. Happily my restraint was rewarded by having enough room for dessert – a pumpkin and an almond mocha cake. The pumpkin is a particular variety which is just put in the oven and cooked down to carmelized squash perfection. The cake was bursting with the expected flavors and each child pointed out their part of the creation process. There was regional wine, cognac, fruit from Charo’s father’s fields and Lindt chocolates – because Arden loves them. I’ve left out the appetizers – they were incredible a well – all butchers are going to be a disappointment to me in the future when I ask for Charizo (Spanish style) and only get blank stares in return.
The children are very excited about meeting their new friends again at camp in just a few months. Kenda and I are already planning how we can show our friends Hoosier hospitality when they visit the states this summer.