While I have mixed feelings about the work of surrealist Salvador Dali; I have enjoyed visiting the former homes of the controversial artist.
I’ve been to his former castle at Púbol, his distinctive home in the delightful coastal location of Cadaques and I have toured the amazing museum in Figueres that not only displays some of his most outrageous work; but is also his burial ground.
Dali and his wife Gala held some outrageous and infamous dinner parties and would often invite locals to join them.
But where and what did Dali like to eat when he was wining and dining in the Catalunya region?
One place was the Restaurant and Hotel Durán in the fascinating city of Figueres.There was always a table reserved for Dali at this establishment.
Various members of the Durán family have been serving regional meals to the rich, famous, locals and tourists for decades.
When Salvador Dali went out to eat he only wanted to sample locally produced or caught food.
Lluis Durán met Dali as a child because the artist was a friend of his father.
Lluis said: “He would come here to eat on market day, which was Thursday. He would purchase things at the market and then visit here to eat simple meat dishes. He rarely drank apart from a glass of Rioja.
Lunch would be a long and relaxing time for him.
Lluis adds: “It was in this restaurant that the idea was born for the creation of the museum.
“Dali lunched in our bodega for about twenty years.”
Indeed in the 1960′s and 1970′s some people went to eat at the restaurant purely to see Dali in the flesh. And he would often put on a show for them.
Drawing on tablecloths or, once famously, throwing some soup up in the air and covering fellow diners in the process. Not because he disliked it. But just to be noticed.
When asked why he did it, he said: “We are here to amuse.”
Ramón Durán is the son of Lluis and runs the bodega, restaurant and hotel these days.
He says of Dali: “Salvador Dali was not a snob. He was a man of the people. His wife Gala paid the bills and his favourites included the local Vilajuiga mineral water and duck with pears.”
Meals served in this restaurant and other local establishments include sirloin steak with a sauce of black truffles or some rape fish landed from the waters of the nearby Costa Brava.
Salvador Dali was a larger than life character. But he loved Spain and Spanish food.
And while some of his works may be hard to fathom; his enjoyment of Spanish food is something I can fully understand.