By Robin Graham
You know when you’ve reached Bar La Trastienda because it says “Bar La Trastienda” over the door, but everything else is telling you to turn around. It’s quiet and you’re facing an antique and slender double door of plain sheet metal. The upper section of each half is a glass panel, covered with net curtains which fail to obscure the interior scene.
The light inside is fluorescent and there are two women in white coats, which makes quite an impression. They aren’t alone, surrounded by what you take to be their neighbours. They are all of a certain age and their chatter, when you timidly push one of the doors open, puts an end to the quiet. Over their heads and – now that you’ve stepped down and in off the street – over yours, hangs an inverted forest of embutidos, salchichones, morcillas, chorizos (cured meat).
Apart from the neighbours, sausages and dark wood counter, all is white and brightly lit. It’s the kind of tiny shop you still remember from your boyhood, and family visits in the mountains of Galicia. The oily scent of cured meats spiced with pimentón; inexplicable lace doilies draped over any available surface; Jesus and/or Mary everywhere you look.
This isn’t Galicia, though; it’s Granada, and this isn’t meant to be a shop. According to The Guardian, it’s supposed to be a bar. You’re frozen at the door, unsure of how to proceed and on the point of retreating when one of the white-coats gestures to the right, to a big old antique till. As wrong as it seems, you comply and squeeze behind it and through a little doorway.
You find yourself trastienda (behind the shop). Benches line little recesses along a wall tiled in green, yellow and black – the archetypal Moorish patterns of Granada and its Alhambra palaces. The tables and stools are low to the ground and the room is dimly lit by little table-top lamps. Surprisingly chic, there is no piped music – just the hum of chat from a few patrons.
Relieved and delighted, you take a seat and order a caña, and because you’re in Granada you sit back to wait for your free tapa, which as it turns out is no surprise; a nice bit of salchichon from the ladies out front.
Where: Plaza de Cuchilleros 1, Granada.
Robin Graham, writer extroidnaire lives in Tarifa. See more of his work at: www.alotofwind.com