April 22, 2020 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
8:30a.m. and I’ve just finished my weekday morning Chris Heria workout. I no longer have to glance at the list on our fridge as I open it to prepare breakfast. It’s the rota that’s come to define our lockdown days.
My wife, a schoolteacher, drew it up.
We (that’s 20-year-old Dani, a second-year tourism student at the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, his 16-year-old brother Alex, nine-year-old Tommy, and me) complained when the concept of the rota was explained to us. Wasn’t school out for an early summer?
Apparently we need to be reminded of our responsibilities, else we’d be slouched on the sofa after topping up our cereal bowls again and binge-watching Netflix.
So it’s good to be prompted when we need to take our dog, Dexter, out for a walk, and whose turn it is. Tommy is excepted from this job; the strict Spanish lockdown restrictions mean only one person can leave the house at any one time, either to shop at a supermarket, visit the chemist, or take a dog for a walk. Though Tommy does play fetch with Dexter on our communal azotea during breaks.
The deal is we make our own breakfasts. My English heritage means I like a big one. Typically, I prefer to get my five a day out of the way early, so load my plate with avocado, banana, celery, grapefruit, and pear.
But I long for the gastronomic marvels I’ve become accustomed to tasting as one of the Canary Islands’ hotel reviewers for Telegraph Travel. Or, in my job as a travel writer, chowing down on paella in Valencia (complete with socarrat), or pasta a la Mamma in Emilia-Romagna.
So, I’ve decided to put my GCSE Home Economics skills to the test today. With a little help from some food bloggers I’ve met over on Global Foodie Friends. A social-distancing-friendly party if ever there was one.
This morning I followed a @LifeNaturale recipe and mashed avocado with coconut milk and then pan-fried spring onion, beetroot with ginger, and portobello mushrooms separately. Fresh spinach leaves adorned a tower built using the mushrooms as the base and the avocado, beet, and spring onion as the building blocks/cement.
My working day began, as always, in front of my laptop with the soothing tones of Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. I updated my Facebook and LinkedIn pages before buffering what I wanted to share on Twitter. Then pitching and writing.
Next came lunch, a pappardelle dish. The sauce combined pan-fried broccoli and red onion (we have a beautifully sweet variety grown in Gran Canaria’s Galdár), quartered vine tomatoes, coconut milk (luckily myself and family are nuts for the stuff), and freshly-ground black pepper.
There followed the traditional postprandial family viewing of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Satiated, I eschewed a siesta to head up to the azotea to read Proust’s The Way by Swann’s (a meandering novel which I’m enjoying losing myself in) and catch some rays whilst munching on peanuts. My body’s inner 5:00pm alarm call informed me it was time for walkies. Dexter and I headed up a barranco, an inner-city ravine I’d later negotiate to reach our nearest budget supermarket.
After returning Dexter home, I headed out for the daily shop. As I can’t go to the gym next door anymore, I treat this as an extra workout. Instead of taking the lift to our third-floor apartment, I walked up the stairs weightlifting two full big bags of shopping, including Malvasia wine from Lanzarote (a favourite of Shakespeare’s, no less), and fruits of our sub-tropical terrain including avocados, pineapple, and papaya.
That was a great warm-up for my early evening appointment with my fitness authority, Chris Heria. Then dinner: I gave myself a rest by making baked beans on toast for myself and my wife (look, I’m sure even Gordon Ramsay takes this occasional shortcut). I follow the mantra if you want to lose weight, you best eat before eight.
Dani and his siblings have youth on their side. Plus being raised in Spain makes them prefer a later dinner than me. Once they were done, we played our nightly game of cards. All the boys (both old and young) play football and their competitive spirit soon resurfaced.
My wife and I enjoyed our nocturnal glass or two of wine. Which made me so sleepy. So I returned to where I left off with my Totally Football Show podcast knowing full well that I won’t be able to finish listening to the whole episode as my eyelids start to droop.