Alive in Spain

A travel diary

Yemas & Pastas

I take at least two long walks each day — one, usually for exploration, the second, a combination of fun and function, always ending with a stop by the market where the cashier now knows me as a regular.

Yesterday, while on my 5pm walk (or, 17:00) I went to El Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a Franciscan convent.

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I’d read in a travel book that one can buy marzipan at almost all the convents. But it was late afternoon and the display counters were sparsely filled, mostly with things I didn’t recognize. I pointed to some round, yellow, sugar coated things. “Yemas,” the nun behind the counter told me. I pointed to some cookie-looking things in the other case and asked what they were. “Pastas,” she said. At about four-foot-ten in height and wearing a long habit tied by a coarse rope, the nun reminded me of an eighty-year-old version of the dolls in the window of the much fancier Café de las Monjas (The Nun’s Café) down the block, except that her habit was a dull, dark brown.

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I bought a box of pastas and a box of yemas. As I handed her the money, A- asked if he could take a picture of her and me. You can take a picture of everything in the store if you like, she responded in Spanish. Then, with a friendly but firmer voice she said, “pero a mí, no. No puedo.” (I can’t.) We respected her privacy and figured she had probably taken a vow of humility. Taking a photo would be too vain an act. We thanked her and took our boxes of sweets.

As we walked out the door A- asked me, “so, what did we buy?”

“I have no idea.”

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