Festa da Primavera

So, you might wonder where I’ve been for the past few months. Turns out I simultaneously got involved in two of the greatest Time Sucks known to man: Planning an International Wedding and Starting a Business.

About the wedding, I don’t want to give away any details so I will only say that I’ve learned one lesson about wedding planning: It’s hard.

The business part came about really last summer, when Isaac and I were wandering the market one Saturday morning and just happened upon a huge street festival in the hippie neighborhood of San Pedro.

It’s your typical street art festival, with artisans selling leather goods, handmade jewelry, journals, soaps, candles, instruments, and everything else you can imagine. Except, unlike most street art fairs, it turns into a raging party at night. People show up with their accordions and tambourines and there’s a huge foliada in the main plaza. As we were waiting in line for our chouripan (the best sausage in a bun you’ll ever have), I said to Isaac that it would be so cool if, next year, I could participate in a fair like this.

And then, a couple months ago, I just happened upon the neighborhood Facebook page and saw that they were accepting applications for their spring festival. And I was accepted. It was one of those totally random coincidences that makes you sure that there are really no coincidences at all.

So I started planning, thinking of ideas for American pastries that would be palatable to Galicians and yet different enough to be interesting. And then last Monday I started baking, and that led to this:

and this:

I took over the entire kitchen and most of the living room with pans and racks and plates EVERYWHERE. I baked and baked, and then ran to the store for butter and sugar and flour, and then I baked some more. Then we packed it all up (with a lot of hand-wringing and nervousness on my part), and early on Saturday morning we drove five minutes down the road to the other end of town, and we set it all up again, where it all eventually turned into this:

There were chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, blueberry muffins, lemon poppyseed muffins, vegan muffins (it is a hippie neighborhood, after all), ginger cookies, decorated sugar cookies in the shape of flowers, butterflies, hearts for Mother’s Day…

…cookies in the shape of the Galician flag and Galician nationalist flag (big seller!), the cross of Santiago, and shells (another symbol of Santiago), lemon bars, and brownies. Whew!

And ALL of it came out of this:

This is my sad little oven. Apart from being so tiny that I can only bake four large sugar cookies at a time, it doesn’t have any kind of temperature control whatsoever, just two controls ambiguously labeled Big Flame and Small Flame. Needless to say, the poor oven was on for about four days straight in order to bake all of that. It might need counseling to recover.

The day of the festival itself was gray and drizzly, as it has been for about a month. We had an umbrella but couldn’t afford the large tents most of the other stands had.

Then it started to rain.

It was a monsoon, really. It was a fairly short storm but it took only seconds for EVERYTHING to get drenched. Everyone was frantically covering their goods and tents with plastic, taping or clipping tarps to each other as best they could.

We salvaged what we could, but a few brownies and muffins were casualties of the storm. A moment of silence, please. This is our little stand in the aftermath of the storm, like a little shanty bakery:

…And then the sun came out, and so did all the people. There was a one-man band:

…and os maios, which are traditional sculptures made out of natural materials to commemmorate spring:

This one has a garland of blown-out eggshells:

And in true Galician fashion, once there was food, drink, and somebody with an accordion, it became a party. This is what it looked like once it really got going (photo courtesy of our local newspaper, El Correo Gallego):

The festival finally ended around midnight, and we packed up what little remained of our pastries – a few cupcakes damaged in the storm and a couple of blueberry muffins – and headed home. It was a long day, and an even longer week, but the real party is the even bigger San Pedro festival in July. Will we be willing to do this all again in a couple months? You bet.