a wandering woman writes

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lunes de Aguas

There are traditions I've yet to experience firsthand in Salamanca. Some I've missed to travel, others to work, or in the case of the fellow who climbs the cathedral tower in charro dress playing the flute and tamboril once a year, some I miss by never quite figuring out just when and where to place myself to join in.

I missed a Salamanca tradition yesterday as I clickclacked away at the keyboard to buy myself a few days off in Italy. While I was spinning and selling from my laptop, the river bank outside my window filled with Salmantinos. Yesterday was Lunes de Aguas, and Lunes de Agua means hornazo, a pie stuffed with local jamón and pork loin and chorizo, eaten cold, and on Lunes de Aguas, eaten on a picnic in the countryside or alongside the river.

Reading about Lunes de Aguas has cleared up a longstanding mystery for me - the name of one of my favorite Salamanca bars, the only place in town where you can choose a slab of fabulous onion quiche for your pincho, El Padre Putas.

Seems a young Felipe II spent a few months in Salamanca (16th century, paisanos míos), and found himself disgusted by the popularity of the college town's prostitutes. Concerned about the university student's extracurricular activities during Lent, he ordered all of the town's prostitutes to abandon the city from Ash Wednesday through the end of the Easter season. A local priest was assigned the task of accompanying the ladies across the river, guarding them there, and bringing then back across the Tormes the Monday a full week after Easter - Lunes de Aguas. "El Padre Putas" was born.

The ladies followed the rules, and spent all of Lent across the Tormes with Padre Putas. On the Monday a week after Easter, Padre Putas would bring Salamanca's prostitutes back across the river in boats, where they would be greeted on the river bank by the university students, picnicking, feasting on hornazo and jubilantly celebrating the end of the season of abstinence.

I've even more fond of my quiche bar, now that I've learned the story of its namesake.

There is one last delicious detail - a saying I can't say I've heard, but which I'm told has its roots in the begging unemployed prostitutes were forced to turn to during a certain season of the year:

You ask for more than a - ahem, lady of the night - in Lent.
Pides más que las putas en Cuaresma.



  • I'm curious to know at what point you realised it was Lunas de Aguas. Was it too late to join in the fun? Lets hope not. But what a wonderful story about El Padre Putas, Spain is full of those tales, all probably true (!).
    And you missing out, apparently, on the enjoyment is a bit like your story about Joshua Bell in the Metro, regarding things in life that pass us by for whatever reason.
    Perhaps they should have put someone at the end of the Metro tunnel and asked them how they failed to notice Joshua Bell playing his 1713 Stradivarius violin. Perhaps Leonard Slatkin should have been there to ask - it might save him some money in the future...

    Regards, Daniel.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:40 PM  

  • Hi Daniel!

    Oh, I've known all year it was Lunes de Aguas this Monday; this is my 3rd or 4th Lunes de Aguas. Somehow I've just never gone along on a hornazo eating spree. This year I worked, so that I'd be able to take the rest of the week off in Italy. All of my friends were away or in their pueblos, leaving me lots of time to work. Next year, hornazo out in the country somewhere..

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 4:57 PM  

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