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[Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.]
It’s often how it goes. A person overcomes one addiction then another, for better or for worse, comes along to fill the void. (For background, see Coming clean on my Colombian.)
China in my hand
To be truly accurate — as I always strive to be — my current BBC addiction isn’t actually new. I more than dabbled in it in my Ireland days. It’s just that it has become particularly acute here in Colombia.
I think I’d find it very hard to live in the country, or Bogotá at least, without it. Be it work or pleasure, this BBC or, for those of another tongue, CCP fix has become a cornerstone of pretty much everything I do.
Now some people would say it’s not the worst addiction in the world to have, as long as one doesn’t rely on it solely. And I don’t. I do balance it out.
Nevertheless, one could always do better when it comes to such things. Indeed, a good test to see how reliant — perhaps harmfully so — one has become on something is to try to do without it. On this score, well just the mere thoughts of doing without the BBC for any protracted period make me uncomfortable (protracted in this sense is in the region of 48 hours).
You see the BBC — Beer, Bread and Coffee, or its Spanish equivalent for where I’m based and following alphabetical order, CCP (Café, Cerveza y Pan), not to be confused with the Chinese Communist Party — is a staple for me.
‘Some say it’s the only time Colombian bread from a standard panadería is edible, when it’s still warm from baking.’
It’s the bread and coffee part in particular that I can’t see myself easily giving up — if there was a desire to do so, that is. The beer, on the other hand, well unlike the other two, it’s not a daily delight.
I also think that in the right circumstances and/or environment i.e. having my own comfortable accommodation and not living in Bogotá, I could relatively easily get by without beer. Or at least drink less. Going without bread and coffee is another thing altogether.
This is the problem — some may not view it as a problem per se — when one uses a panadería/bakery as an office on a daily basis. It’s like an alcoholic going to work in a pub.
OK, a good coffee or three a day may, as some studies have shown, do more good than harm to one’s overall health. The same can’t really be said for the bread on the side, not the majority of bread baked in Colombia in any case. (Dr Pradeep Jamnadas wouldn’t be impressed.)
‘There are, however, worse addictions to have, such as CNN.’
Yet, the floured fusions are hard to resist, especially so when they’ve just come hot out of the oven.
In fact, some say it’s the only time Colombian bread from a standard panadería is edible, when it’s still warm from baking. After a day or so, regardless of the type really, it seems to become fairly bland. (Although, worryingly so as it suggests the bread is pumped with preservatives, it doesn’t tend to mould.) Similar to some women I’ve dated here, it could be said.
‘I can’t believe it’s not coffee!’
Regarding my daily coffee, the quality of it in my current “office” is, as far as I’m concerned, as good as you’ll get in some of the more renowned establishments. Snootier types, however, might turn their noses up at it. There’s an assumption, based on a long history of this being the case in fairness, that panadería coffee is ordinary at best.
Thankfully, though, a good number of panaderías have embraced machine brewers, consigning those metal grecas with their tendency to produce tasteless, I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-coffee coffee to the scrapyard. (Personally, this has become more important over the last few years as my brew preferences have changed. It’s no longer an 80/20 coffee/milk split, it’s more like 99/1. Thus, the coffee has to be flavoursome and strong.)
As for the beer, well Poker — or on occasions Águila or Costeña or, when in Paisa land, Pilsen (they’re all pretty much the same) — could win awards for being one of the best and reasonably priced mediocre lagers around. It humbly does its job.
In this regard, like the BBC media group and the political CCP my BBC — the beer and bread anyway — is of ordinary quality. Perhaps not the greatest but not the worst either.
It’s also killing me softly, no doubt. Sure aren’t we on the countdown to death from the moment we’re born anyway?
There are, however, worse addictions to have.
With CNN — cocaine, noodles and Nutella — for instance, one is left brain-dead within days. That diet combination may seem nonsensical. But that’s CNN for you.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.