In a post last week, I considered the authenticity of American vs. Spanish-made Mexican food, weighing the importance of our proximity to our southern neighbor against my own sense of the clear but historically-vague (in my mind, at least) similarities between the Spanish and Mexican cultures. Beginning this weekend, Barcelona hosts its annual Semana de Mexico festival, a week-long celebration of el Grito, Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain. The event is a reminder of my long-forgotten history lesson that for thousands of years, what is now Mexico was among the most advanced and culturally-rich civilizations on earth, until it was destroyed by Spanish colonization in the 16th century. After 300 years of Spanish rule, followed by a brief period of French occupation and the Mexican-American war, Mexico has lost most of its indigenous population and almost half its territory. Despite an illustrious past dating back before 2000 B.C., Mexico has had a pretty shitty time of things in the modern world. Anyway, for those of us who’ve forgotten about all that, it just seems worth remembering. In a completely unrelated story, Regina and I stopped into to a small restaurant close to our apartment last night because the menu board outside said “Super Nachos” in neatly written chalk. Climbing down the steps to the underground bar, and still further into the cavernous seating area, we found ourselves in what appeared to be a seedy opium den in a back alley in Bucharest. As it turns out, La Journal is actually where the neighborhood hostel guests gather to drink and play guitar and huddle around chess boards. The air is dense with smoke and there’s no light inside the restroom, so Regina had to use the flashlight on my new, plastic cell phone to navigate. For just 6€, we shared a tasty bowl of nachos and I had a cold San Miguel. For another 1€, there were also Chips Ahoy cookies and Twix bars on the menu, but it was late and Regina was still a little high from her first day of pilates.
Not to worry, though, I’ll be back to La Journal again very soon. Did I mention its open all night?