Friday, July 18, 2003

Rundown of the Vanguardia news and commentary staff:


Rafael Poch, Tomas Alcoverro, Rafael Ramos, Andy Robinson, Balto Porcel, Xavier Bru de Sala, Gregorio Moran, Remei Margarit, "Chemical Lali" Sole


Quim Monzo, Xavier Sala i Martin, Miquel Porta Perales, Pedro Schwartz

Here comes Monzo, from Wednesday's Vangua. It's titled "I have a dilemma".

Last week Juan Ruiz published, in El Periodico, an article in which he depicted with perfection one of those situations with which the Gullible International cheers us up occasionally. Turns out that at the recent Sant Cugat (a wealthy Barcelona residential suburb) fiesta mayor, in the area for the young people and the so-called alternatives, they decided not to serve Coca-Cola. It's imperialistic. Juan Ruiz explains, "The organizers boycotted that drink. In its place, they served Mecca-Cola, the combative soft drink invented by a French businessman of Tunisian origin." Mecca-Cola has been on the Spanish market for four months and, they say, in the beginning the importers thought that it would be very popular among the immigrant Muslim population. But that didn't happen. The immigrant Muslim population prefers other brands of cola, including the perfidious Coca-Cola. The reasons for this preference are varied and the article remarks upon them. One is the price. A 1 1/2 liter bottle of Mecca-Cola costs €1.60. However, the other brands cost only €1.20. We must keep in mind that Mecca-Cola has pledged to destine 10 percent of the profits to the Palestinian cause.

The importers have wound up discovering that the immigrant Muslim population doesn't give a hoot about Mecca-Cola, but the supporters of "responsible consumption" do. Well, that's better than nothing. That is: you will not find Mecca-Cola in the mom-and-pop groceries of the Raval (the downtown slum district with a heavily Muslim immigrant population)--which is where they thought it would sell the best--but you will in the shops belonging to the Network of Solidarious Trade. Juan Ruiz also reproduces the statements of Carles Montanya, the spokesman for the importer, who says that the consumers are all Christians and that "the Muslim population in Spain is not politically aware". Take that.

In the same style as those shwarma and falafel joints where they serve water and soft drinks but not even one sad little beer, the bottles of Mecca-Cola also show a discriminatory attitude toward alcohol. On all of them it says, "Please do not mix with alcohol." And you think, why not? Why not, if, as the importers say, all the drink's consumers are Christians, and, to begin with, the Christians not only have no problem with alcohol, but their priests get hammered on slurps of wine during Mass? My question now is which position I should adopt. I'm writing this article at mid-afternoon. A good time to have myself a "raf"--ice, gin, a wedge of lemon, cola...But which cola do I use? If I add Coca-Cola, I am helping the maximum symbol of the malevolent, perverse, and evil Yankees' evil, perverse, and malevolent capitalism. Of course it's not going to be Pepsi--I'd rather die. I'd almost choose to put in Mecca-Cola, in order to compensate for the immigrant Muslim population's lack of solidarity and in order to be 10 percent fraternal with the Palestinian cause in general and the French businessman of Tunisian origin's company in particular. But if it says on the bottles, "Please do not mix with alcohol", that means, for them, mixing the drink with alcohol is some sort of offense. So I don't know what to do. If I put Coca-Cola in my rum I'm siding with imperialism. If I put in Mecca-Cola I'm offending them. What would you do in my place?

If you would be kind enough to advise me, I would appreciate it if you would send your letters to me, care of the Opinion section of La Vanguardia, Calle Pelai, 28, 08001 Barcelona, Spain. Should you prefer to do it by e-mail, send it to Thank you very much.

Good column, Mr. Monzo. Here's my advice: NEVER mix Coke and gin. It tastes like hell. In college we called it an "Aqua Velva", because it tastes and smells like that cheap American brand of cologne. Mix your gin with Schweppes tonic instead. Reserve Coke to mix with rum or bourbon (of Four Roses-Evan Williams quality, not Maker's Mark or Weller or Wild Turkey). Use limes rather than lemons, if you can, if you want to add a citrus taste. (Not that I have anything against lemon, I just like lime better.) And, here in Spain, we are privileged to have many different varieties of good wine available at reasonable prices. Drink good Spanish wine whenever you get the opportunity. Try the Pazo brand from Galicia. It's a light (10%) wine that's crisp and refreshing, and very cheap. It would be no sin to turn it into a spritzer.

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