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The problem with Earth Hour is that it is too early in the evening.
Living in Spain and eating dinner at Spanish hours rather than in the middle of the afternoon (eating any time before 8pm seems more like having a late lunch rather than eating dinner), meant that it was time for lights out just as we began the preparation.
Had we been smart, we’d have made sure that dinner was an easy affair; a one pot wonder so that everything was in the pot ready. And at 8.30pm we could turn on the gas, flick off the lights and sit back with a generous copa de vino as dinner more or less cooked itself.
Had we been smart, we’d have minimised the impact. Some of the councils in our neck of the woods announced they’d be turning off the lights in town halls. I’m not sure how many town halls actually have their lights burning on a Saturday night but at least it was a nod in the right direction.
I realise ‘minimising the impact’ isn’t the point of Earth Hour but I’m pretty sure neither is scrambling about in the dark in danger of knocking over candles and accidentally committing Hari-kari by burning the house down.
Had we been smart we wouldn’t have planned a 5 dish tapas meal consisting of tapas dishes we had never prepared before.
The candles weren’t a problem; we’ve got loads and sitting by candlelight is the norm for us. However, the assorted fiesta candles, scented candles, night-lights and proper candles that are actually designed to illuminate rather than look ‘aw, isn’t that pretty?’ just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to providing enough light for preparing meals.
Now I understand why the cuisine in some countries, where electricity isn’t taken for granted, can be so basic. It’s not that they lack ingredients or culinary imagination, it’s that they can’t see what they’re doing.
With every inch of worktop space filled with ingredients candles and cook books, the kitchen in Casa Montgomery had the potential to be a recipe for disaster.
The assorted goats’ cheese and membrillo with walnuts was easy; and the toasted country bread with manchego and anchovies didn’t pose too much of a problem. However, co-ordinating the albóndigas in a cream and sherry sauce, sardine fillets in oregano flavoured breadcrumbs and avocado skins filled with avocado balls, shredded carrot and lettuce, mayonnaise and strips of smoked salmon proved more of a logistical nightmare.
Somehow we managed it without barbecuing any of our tapas cookbooks over a candle flame.
Somehow it all came together and we sat down to our tapas dinner at 9.30pm exactly. Just as Earth Hour came to a close.
Here’s my request. From next year move Earth Hour to 9.30pm for Spain. It’s a far more civilised time anyway and I’m willing to bet it cuts down on the number of emergency calls made to the bomberos during EH.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+