At 11 p.m., just one hour short of the New Year, Ed and I are setting out in search of food. Typically this would be an easy hunt. Is there anyone in Spain who even thinks dinner thoughts before nine or ten? But it’s New Years Eve and so many eating establishments are either closed or they’re posting expensive five course menus. That’s not Ed and me, not today, not these years ever.
So we go from one place to the next and when we do come across causal tapas bars, they're packed, with many waiting at the side for the possibility of getting in before midnight, when, just on this day, the food scene in Seville will shut down (so that everyone can party).
But we get very lucky. Two unhappy lovers are just getting up from a table at one tapas place. The waiter points to the empty chairs. We're in.
Except that no one in the kitchen feels like cooking anymore. We order a pitcher of Sangria and food. Any food. What do you have? Fried croquettes. Fried potatoes. Empanadas.
We’ll take the empanadas.
And we’re happy with that. You set out late, you want to be adventurous, you make do with a dinner of empanadas at 11:40 p.m. on New Year’s Eve in Seville.
But as we munch and people-watch (imagine the people watching on this night, just imagine! Everyone’s out on the streets, inside, outside, it’s a palpably frenzied movement of people, hurrying who knows where, probably nowhere at all), the waiter comes over and shows us a plate with a large freshly baked fish. In garlic, over potatoes. Would you like this? It’s so good!
Where did it come from? Why was it made? Imponderables. We say yes, yes, indeed.
And so we eat the fish and drink the sangria and besides us the TV is showing a Sevillian pair of entertainers enthusiastically talking down the minutes, with the clock, moving closer and closer to midnight.
At a minute before twelve, the staff abandons all tasks. A few dressed up revelers come up to the TV with little tins of seeded grapes and they join the restaurant staff, themselves with plates of grapes, ready for the Spanish countdown. And the clock strikes twelve and they’re all popping grapes, one by one, twelve in all.
And at this particular tapas place, they give us the leftovers.
There is a lot of kissing and hugging and I remind Ed that this is what happens at midnight and he pretends it’s all news to him, but he’s grinning and searching his mind on how to say happy new year in Spanish. (¡Feliz Año Nuevo!).
We walk among revelers once more. The moon is bright and the pops of crackers are loud and I can’t think of a better way to welcome the new year.
In the hotel Ed pours a little more Cava and we bring out the chocolate and the cookies that somehow made their way back with us earlier in the day and when I say Happy New Year once more, he doesn’t protest all that much and indeed, as if on automatic now, whispers Happy New Year right back.
And in the morning, Ed is Ed again, the same old Ed, the Ed who'll show me the Dilbert cartoon in the paper:
Girl - Happy New Year!
Dilbert - Whoa! Settle Down. I don't celebrate the magical thinking that says one random point in the space-time continuum is somehow special.
Girl - It's just a hug. You'll enjoy it.
Dilbert - You're like some sort of oxytocin drug dealer.