So you´re standing there. With about three rows of people between you and the guy whose gonna take your order. Mibbe. If you´re lucky. Actually, a row would be far too ordered a thing for a place like this. It’s just a mass of people. All of whom are talking loudly, passing plates and glasses over their heads, waving money at the barman or trying to squeeze their way through to the toilet. This isn´t a waiter standing by your shoulder in a subdued restaurant. This is a little more tricky. This is pintxos in San Sebastian on a Saturday night.
And you´re thinking to yourself. If I can just get eye contact I´ll be in with a chance. If he just looks this way, even on this side of the bar I can get him. Why didn’t I eat my greens when I was a lad? At least I´d have some physical presence. And even then, the entire order will have to be given in the time it takes to say “poke of chips”. Over this throng. And in a foreign language.
The first time I came to San Sebastian, I thought the bus from Bilbao airport was stopping off in Donostia first, then on to San Sebastián. Logical. The front of the bus said Donostia-San Sebastian. So when it arrived in Amara bus station, I stayed in my seat while everyone else trotted off. After a wee wait, and feeling a little lonely I approached the bus driver to ask how long we´d be sitting here. Ok, this is last stop. This is Donostia AND San Sebastian. Cool. Two for the price of one.
So I wasn´t really aware what this place was all about when I first arrived. Oddly enough, I hadn´t even really read up much about the place before I came. Those were the shit old days before Wikipedia. I feel a little the same way of starting this blog. Not really sure what to expect . Not really sure if I´ll be capable of staying the distance. And not really sure what people will make of me here. But for some reason, I want to take the plunge. People tell you to write about what you know. I’d rather write about something I love. Pintxos. San Sebastian. And whatever else comes to mind.
So I get half a glimpse and take my chance. Two reds and three txakolis blurted out in less time than it takes to order a bag o chips. I have my tactics. This is a over a decade since I arrived on that bus and I´ve learned a thing or two since then. Get the drinks order in and then, when he´s handing them over and I have his undivided attention, I´ll ask for the pintxos. Clever, you see. His reaction is typical of a barman from donosti´s old part. There isn’t one. I´ve no idea if it’s registered at all. Was there a grunt, a raising of the eyebrows in confirmation. Buggered if I know.
It has! The drinks arrive and as he´s passing them over. I order the pintxos. This is working. Within five minutes they arrive and as they do I frantically wave a 20 euro note at him. I aint queuing again to pay. And there it is. Pintxos for me and my pals. I raise them above my head, looking and feeling like Casillas clutching the world cup, and triumphantly pass them over my head to the awaiting arms behind.