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This past week I’ve been sighing with envy as I read about the lovely walks in the mountains taken by Meredith of Poppy Fields and Ulrike of Kuchenlaten. I miss my Monday Walks in Andorra.
It was good exercise, a chance to catch up on the local gossip, solve the world’s problems and have the occasional run-in with a handsome young man toting a semi-automatic rifle.
You see, in Andorra, up until just a few years ago, smuggling was legal. Not only legal but a time-honored profession worthy of being listed as an occupation on your Andorran passport. It was lawyers that were frowned upon in Andorra. (Lawyers weren’t allowed in the country until around 1944).
The problem of course, was that it wasn’t legal in either bordering country. Andorra is not in the E.U. so there are still borders and still import/export laws.
It was on more than one occasion that, after a several hour walk up a steep, barely identifiable trail, we would round the final boulder at the top to come face to face with the unflinching gaze of a gun-toting Guardia Civil or Gendarme. We would immediately know 2 things:
1. Which border (Spain or France) we were NOT going to be crossing (we normally didn’t hike with passports) and
2. Apparently we had found yet another smuggling run.
There were many smuggling runs in the mountains of Andorra. There was one that went almost by the front door of our house. We know that because one morning, about 4:00, after hearing 2 trucks go up the mountain (Andorrans do not work at night unless they’re smuggling) we heard 2 cars racing up behind them followed by gunshots. It was likely two rival smuggling clans discussing trail rights. The police came, everyone was questioned, nothing came of it.
Rumor has it that a few years earlier there had been another bit of discussion regarding that particular trail leading over the mountains into Spain. In the end, a body was found, drowned, at the bottom of a mountain lake, tied hand and foot, securely wrapped in carpets and weighted down with rocks.
It was officially deemed a suicide.
In a sense, it was.
What were they smuggling that was so valuable? Gold? Money? Precious Gems? Pasta?
I could eat more pasta when I walked in the mountains once or twice a week – that’s what I really miss. (Although there’s something about a handsome man in uniform with a high-powered rifle …)
This weeks marks the 6-month birthday of Presto Pasta Nights, founded and hosted by the talented and busy Ruth, of Once Upon A Feast.
Six whole months of pastas, now that’s something to celebrate; more than 400 recipes!
Ham, Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad
1 1/4 cups pasta, I used farfalle
1 tbs olive oil
1 thick slice deli-style ham, about 8 oz (250 gr)
6 oz (175gr) green beans
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes – any color
1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2oz, 60ml)
1/4 cup plain or Greek yogurt (2oz, 60ml)
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs fresh chives, snipped
2 tbs fresh basil, snipped
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse in cold water and toss with olive oil. Top and tail beans and cut into 1 inch lengths. Fill a medium saucepan 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add beans and blanch for 3 minutes. While the beans cook fill a large bowl or pan 3/4 full of cold water. When the beans are done, drain and dump into the cold water. Swirl around until cool then drain and set aside. Snip herbs. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Cut ham into inch squares (or cubes depending on how thick) – or larger if you prefer. In small bowl whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard and lemon juice. Put pasta, ham, beans, herbs and tomatoes in large salad bowl. Add mayonnaise dressing and toss lightly to combine – a tongs works well. Serve.
Happy 6 Months Presto Pasta Nights!
Be sure to check out the party at Once Upon a Feast on Friday! The more the merrier! And bring wine!