My parents’ move to Spain is grounded in a number of founding myths. They all revolve around their determination to overcome a reluctance to leave what was, back in 2002, their lifelong home.
These myths include their conviction that Mum’s cancer treatment would have been worse under the NHS (the jury’s out on that one) and also underpin—if not explain—my Dad’s weird obsession with UKIP’s success as a barometer of what’s wrong with the UK. I haven’t the heart to tell him what will happen to expats if we leave the EU, but at least I’ll see a bit more of him then.
But the oddest founding myth concerns how much better—or at any rate, how much better value for money—cava is compared to champagne. Now, I’m no connoisseur of either: I certainly can’t afford much of the latter; and wouldn’t have so much of the former if it weren’t for them buying it for us. But two chance encounters with the real deal in these past few months have made me boggle at their reactions.
On the train down to the Alps, one of my friends shared a remarkable petrolly Saumur with us all, and I could’ve wished for it to last for ever. And a few weeks before then, over the Christmas holidays my father-in-law treated us to a bottle of Tendresse by Jean Milan: an amazing concoction tasting of hazelnut cream, purchased during a day trip to that one street near Reims that’s home to perhaps a third of the best champagne houses in the world.
Each time, when I mentioned my experience to them in passing on our weekly phone call, my parents replied with “Ooh, no thanks! We’d much prefer cava.” Neither time could I really think of anything to say in response. I mean, cava’s all right, but these drinks were something entirely different….
Perhaps it’s for the best, though: perhaps championing cava is one or the most Spanish things they do, along with coincidentally, ironically being quite British: to support the underdog; indeed, to support anyone at all, if they’re up against the French.