Yes, the nation-state is very young. But the important thing is that it’s still very much alive.

On a completely unrelated note, I’ve just about had it with the ubiquitous nature of QR codes here in Spain, and now a friend from New York is asking me to use a QR code to buy cookies for her small daughter’s Girl Scout program.

I’m not completely opposed to QR codes. I love them on Spanish bus stops where a code tells me exactly how soon the next bus will arrive at that particular stop. But they are an absolute bother in restaurants. The phone screen is small. I have to toggle it constantly to navigate the menu. It’s hard to track what price corresponds to which dish.

On an even more unrelated note, I detest the word “cookie” almost as much as the concept it denotes. The word sounds dry, scratchy, and unappetizing.

Spanish Food

People are complaining that I’m not posting pictures of food in Spain. The reason for the lack of photographic evidence is that I made a choice between bookstores and restaurants, and bookstores won, obligating me to buy an additional suitcase. I’ve mostly been eating yogurts and fruit iny hotel rooms. But there have been two restaurant visits I want to share.

One was at my favorite seafood place in San Sebastián. Unlike most of Spanish food, what they serve there is not in the least fussy. The seafood is so fresh that nobody feels the need to mess with it. This is what food should be, in my opinion:

In Madrid I went to a restaurant serving traditional food from the region of Murcia. I had the famous Murcian salad:

It contains pickled tomatoes, onions, boiled egg, olives, and for some mysterious reason, canned tuna. The habit of people in Spain to spoil every dish with dollops of canned tuna is something I’ll never comprehend. The salad was one of the most hideous things I’ve ever eaten. And I’m from the USSR, so I know a lot about disgusting food.

The regional specialty is “arroz del caldero”, which is rice cooked in an iron pot. Here’s the pot:

And here’s the rice:

It has tiny shrimp in it and, blissfully, no canned tuna. Other than that, it’s rice. To relieve the boredom of just rice, you get 3 different types of mayonnaise to accompany it:

The mayonnaise family is superb. And the rice is… rice. On the positive side, it’s quite minimalist, which allowed me to eschew the traditional Spanish problem of eating monstrosities made up of a million ingredients that aren’t meant to coexist.

Hip in Madrid

I slept all through breakfast and then started running around Madrid’s Literary Quarter, bleary-eyed and barely awake, in search for coffee.

In my confusion, I ended up at some hipster cafe where every sign is in English, patrons are glued to devices and coffee is expensive and fussy.

“What kind of milk?” the barista asked severely. “What do you mean by ‘the normal’? Like, from a cow? Just plain milk? You are sure?”

To compensate for my old-fashioned milk taste, I whipped out my device started writing this post.

Return to Reality

Russia is now trying to effectuate regime change in Moldova.

And the president of Belarus traveled to China to ask for protection against Russian expansionism.

And Russian leadership already informed Kazakhstan that they are not a real country.

The idea that the war will end if the West stops supplying weapons to Ukraine is not grounded in reality.