I woke up early to finish some reading, but have been in bed for hours scrolling through Facebook, with little fingers and tired eyes fixed to the screen, and now it’s 1 pm. Though the streets of Barcelona are sunny most days, only secondhand light teases in from the center courtyard of the apartment building, and sometimes in here I forget what sun is. It’s the only bedroom that faces inward, the one my host mother lived in as a girl. This was her childhood home.
After the sad burger I had on our layover in Brussels, I vow never to eat so poorly again, at least not while in the European Union. As my girlfriend Ashley and I touchdown in Catalonian country, a craving comes over me that only meat of the reddest proportions, fish of the freshest means, and cuisine of the finest and oldest preparation can fill. Waiting at baggage claim can be so torturous after a long journey, but there I recall that most excellent bite of food from my last trip to Barcelona. The stand out. The thing that made me come back. The McFoie. It was at Carles Abellan’s restaurant, Tapas 24. A “foie gras burger” of veal sirloin and foie gras constructed to look like a McDonald’s hamburger, a touch of home for any American who grew up on the flat beef patty, two pickles, and dallop of ketchup. The McFoie came rare and juicy, and with an artisan’s touch, too rich to be eaten too often, but with flavor so profound that I found myself dreaming of it as my baggage arrived and my girlfriend’s did not.
I already know Gaudi’s phantasmagoria: the commissioned houses that curve like ocean waves or flash in the sun as though they were covered in fish scales, the Art Deco-Gothic cathedral spires that replicate eternity via never-ending construction, the public park that simulates an underwater landscape. I already know the urban legend that Walt Disney, after spending time here as a young man, would forever replicate the fanciful stone gargoyles, arches and spires of the Barri Gotic in his cartoon worlds, and in the Fantasyland of his first theme park in California.