My Catalan cousin-in-law told me I must ‘take the waters’ whilst in Caldes de Boi. When on childhood holidays, her mother made her and her siblings do so. I thought, ‘How lovely of her, taking care of my health and helping me get the maximum from my stay.’
The following day, I fronted up. The focal point of the foyer of the treatment centre is a large white stand with a gold tap on each of the four sides. Each tap emits a different water suitable for a different health concern eg skin, stomach. At the base of the stand is a shell-shaped basin – for overflows, I presumed.
So I drew myself a cup and began to toss it down, imagining my body glorying in this nature’s cure.
Well, thanks a lot, Cousin. It was fetid! I immediately realised that the basin at my feet was not just for overflows.
I wondered if the water had gone off and was going to wreak merry hell on my insides. But I decided that this was just the nature of the beast: good old sulphur – gotta love-hate it. Despite the fact that it goes against human instincts to drink smelly water (the copious consumption of English ales , at least in days of yore, can be attributed to this) I swallowed every last drop and didn’t even hold my breath as my cousin later revealed she used to.
I have no idea whether it did me any good but I enjoyed the thought that it might as well as the fun juxtaposition of disgusting flavour and purported health-giving properties, as though good health is something to be attained through further suffering.
So if you’re in the neighbourhood and up for a challenge…
PS Smelly food: what do you like? The BB revels in Munster cheese, a particularly potent little number from France.