March 2, 2012

The Hemingway Paradigm Is… the opinionated "Impertinente Curioso", so quick to judge

"Nothing gives more pain to Spaniards than seeing volume after volume written on themselves and their country by foreigners, who have only rapidly glanced at one-half of the subject, and that half the one of which they are the most ashamed, and consider the least worth notice."— Richard Ford, Gatherings from Spain (1846)
So every 25 entries or so (who's keeping track?) I try to reflect on the mission statement of this blog, to write about the "Hemingway paradigm" stereotypes and tendencies out there that gets tourism in Spain stuck in a rut. Today's entry is my 75th. I _was_ going to write about Washington Irving's "Tales of the Alhambra" (1832), which I became aware of thanks to Spain blogger Sangria, Sol y Siesta, and which I had planned to read since my wife and I are visiting Granada soon. But then I had a flaming Valentine's Day, providing me juicy content for an entry. No, it's not what you think. By flaming I'm referring to the social network experience of "flaming" on public forums. A couple of weeks ago, on Valentine's Day, I decided I would lobby the "Spain Travel" guy Damian Corrigan on Twitter about the line on this page where he says"First the bad news. Valencia, Spain's third biggest city, doesn't have that iconic, must-see reason to visit." And, depending on his response (which some longtime blogger-tweeple friends of mine hinted would be off-key and negative), I would commence operation shame-and-blame. In short, I thought I would try out a twitter war as an online social experiment and see what happens.

The page in question. I put it to you, do you think this is an insulting way
to characterize a city, or am I overreacting... or both?

I know what you're thinking, "This guy is a total troll" (another word I only recently learned). Even in my early blogging days I picked fights with Spanish Sabores over how "un-Spanish" a mojito is. I'm always ranting about how underappreciated Valencia is, like here on my first entry about the city, or here, in the comments where I reply to Kaley... y Mucho Más. Heck! My post on the "Paella Hall of Shame" even prompted one Spanish blogger (from Madrid, I believe) to say I was "becoming a real 'taliban' of the paella valenciana"! Why, only a few days ago I was joining the ranks with Mr. Grumpy himself, laying into Mo and others on her blog SpainStruck who celebrate Spanglish as "code-switching", when a lot of what I hear expats speaking here is more like "pidgin". So fair enough. I guess I can be a bit of a troll about "getting it right" when it comes to Spanish culture. But these were all spats with people who's opinion I respect and whose blogs I like. So all of this is silly pittance and prologue to my concerted effort to shame Damian into removing what I saw as a singularly insulting depiction of my beloved Valencia.

Did I mention that Fallas season has started? I recorded this video
of the first March mascletà yesterday. Awesome!

Damian Corrigan,
my Valentine
this year
"First the bad news..."?!? I felt this was too flippant a way to open about one of Spain's most important cities. But the reaction I got from him when I tweeted said this was so outrageous that I had to share. So today I dedicate this entry to those "Impertinente Curiosos", those outsiders/foreigners/expats out there who float through Spain, get a first bad impression, and then replicate it all over the place like a bad rumor. I won't say they are "wrong". Let's just say they do a lot of damage to local pride, and more often than not they don't _really_ know what they are talking about. Let's walk through my flaming-shaming campaign... to make this a teachable moment, as Obama once so eloquently put it. Like all social forums, there is apparently something known as "Twitter etiquette", and I definitely learned a few things from this scrape with Spain...

My opening appeal

1) Lesson 1, don't start a flame war on Valentine's Day if you hope to reach anyone:
You're probably (understandably) wondering, "Does this guy have a life?" I'll plead the fifth on that. But I can say that my wife and I don't celebrate Valentine's for a couple of unarticulated reasons, but mostly because we find it cheasy (why encourage people!). (Instead we celebrate romance every other day of the year... "A very merry unbirthday to you. Yes, you!") But at first I did feel kind of bad... was I ruining Damian's Valentine's Day? Was he too busy wooing his love to put out fires started by grumpy online secret admirers? But no, alas, he also didn't have a date on Valentine's, or if he did, he must be that killjoy guy with the smart phone at the restaurant, texting away madly instead of "being there in the moment". But if he and I didn't have any special plans, everyone else did. Nobody in the twitterverse wanted to engage in sour grapes on a day for mushy hushpuppies. So even if I did have any sympathies from my followers (probably a big if), they were too busy selling love that day to sully themselves with my scurrilous cat fight.

2) Lesson 2, weapons of the weak or, in Twitter you've won if you get them to respond:
The "argument" between Go Spain and I was clearly uneven. He had something like 5000 followers on twitter, and I had around 100. His website's location in also meant that he had institutional legitimacy, whereas I'm just some silly blogger with an ax to grind. I'm not going to go overboard and pitch myself as some kind of David versus Goliath, but... well, I'm just say, it wasn't a square fight. But in grad school I read a little about social movements, and had one book, James Scott's Weapons of the Weak (1985), particularly in mind. Social movements have certain tactics like "shaming" available to them, and they can use humor and their weaker position to appeal to the wider community. Moreover, I really had little to lose. Even when I started I assumed I would lose followers (amazingly I didn't), but I wasn't worried about that. Whereas I suspect Damian didn't want to alienate his readers. Indeed, one of the key characteristics of this online flaming trend is that one is anonymous... in this respect I had Damian at a disadvantage. The "right" move on his part would probably be to ignore me. This is the "social death" by way of silence. In effect I had to bait him into replying, but make sure not to alienate disinterested third parties and wayward audiences.

And he made a mistake… he did respond… [I think its a debatable point whether this was a "mistake" or not on his part. It certainly made him seem less aloof and corporate, but it also made him more human. He clearly cares about what people tweet to him, even if he does not _care_, as you will see below, about what they think or feel.]

3) Lesson 3, be prepared for a long war:
The reality is that a lot of nonsense gets published out there. And most people don't bother to say anything about it because it's just easier to ignore it. I assumed that this would be Damian's robe of power - sit through and weather whatever appeal I made, and assume I'd lose interest and give up. So you see, I had this whole plan thought out, with multiple stages to the flaming experiment: Stage 1) Appeal to Reason, Stage 2) refer to his peers and competitors, Stage 3) Reason by analogy, Stage 4) appeal to better nature. And so on. This was going to be my first flame war, and I wanted to see it through properly.

Stages 1, reason by pointing to his own words which show sightseeing worth reasons to visit Valencia,
and Stage 2, refer to his peers. I pointed him to Lonely Planet's more favorable review of Valencia,
and Travel & Leisure's estimation of the city rising

I had fun with Stage 3: lifting the offensive quote from Go Spain's website,
and inserting other "third biggest cities". Some of them surprised me.
(Learn something new everyday.)

4) Lesson 4, look to your natural allies:
I then sent a tweet into the void that is Twitter, directed first at my followers, and then specifically at Valencia people's twitter accounts, asking them to weigh in. And got nothing. (Review lesson number 1: don't flame on Valentine's Day.) But maybe it also says something about the "weak ties", as sociologists call them, on social networks (another name for them might be "fair-weather friends"). I suppose I could have made more of a campaign about it, by tweeting all the posts out there which celebrate Valencia as an amazing, dare I say "iconic" city to visit... like the fact, which Culture Spain posted, that the City of Arts and Sciences beat out the Prado in Madrid and La Alhambra in Granada for most visitors last year, or Mr. Grumpy listing Valencia's Fallas as one of the Seven Wonders of Spain. Even the Chicago Tribune out analogized me recently, by starting its description of Valencia off by comparing it to Paris!

I think at this point he would have just ignored me, until one blogger friend and twitter follower spoke up. Thanks Chic Soufflé for getting my back! And also indirectly The Spain Scoop for a retweet on Fallas being iconic! (I also got some belated indirect support from a couple of others, who I won't name to protect them, but thank you!)

5) Lesson 5, Try to avoid needless digressions
At some point the conversation took a turn, and we started to talk about what is meant by "iconic". (I can almost hear Alanis Morisette's song in my head, but with iconic instead of ironic: "Isn't it iconic. Like rain, falling on Spain's plains.")

Damian: "No, I have a responsibility to be honest to my readers about
where I believe tourists should and shouldn't go in Spain. End." Ouch!

"I try to believe in as many as six [iconic Valencian] things before breakfast."

Maybe I'm a little obsessed with the implications of the self-fulfilling prophecy,
but I feel like it's Spain's worst enemy at the moment.

How did he get the idea that I'm a citizen of Valencia? If only!

6) Lesson 6, let the other side dig his own grave:
As I said, I think other people weighing in got GoSpain's attention. Note his reply to Chic Soufflé: "If you think that is negative, you should see... [Worst Cities in Spain] My job is to differentiate and highlight what I like." I suppose this is his way of trying to show magnanimity and deference. I can't speak for Chic Soufflé, but it strikes me as absurd. Have you looked at the cities on his site he recommends people _not_ visit?: 1) Gibraltar, 2) Málaga, 3) Valladolid, 4) Marbella, 5) Algeciras, 6) Ciudad Real, 7) Huelva, 8) Albacete. Now I haven't been to any of these, so I'm not in a position to judge. But it strikes me as a bad business model for travel advice to categorically dismiss towns like these. I just had friends visit Valladolid, and liked it, and I've been meaning to go there for a while to see its film festival, one of the oldest in Spain. (I invite you, the reader, to make an argument for any of the others.)

"Get over yourself and your city, please!" Suggestion to all: don't use unnecessary
personal attacks when arguing with people online. If you don't know them,
it's better to give them the benefit of the doubt. Here he also writes to Chic Soufflé:
"If you think that is negative, you should see... My job is to differentiate and highlight what I like."

His concession that he at least did not put Valencia on this list is, well, weak. Here he falls into a common trap for travel writers: vanity, that he has the ultimate authority, judgment, and say in what is "worth it" and what is not. If he told his audience to flat out avoid Valencia, that it was not "worth it", his readers would know that he has no impartiality or taste whatsoever. This is because the subjects one chooses for travel writing make the writer as much as the writer makes the subject. This was something that Hemingway understood well. He helped to make Pamplona iconic, because of his amazing vivid prose. But he knew that it was Pamplona speaking through him, not just him alone...

I should add that at some point in all this he went private... sending me private messages on Twitter rather than public ones. In both public and private, he wasn't above ad hominem (personal) attacks. (Class, it is now time to review the twitter rule: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.) At one point he flattered me by mistaking me for a Valencian citizen. Funny how personal attacks can say as much or more about those who lobby them than those they're lobbied at. He clearly didn't take the time to look at my blog and read up about me, before rushing to judgment about what I was saying.

"High minded Valencians". This is a new one for me. Usually Valencians
are accused of provincialism. I think he really thought I was from Valencia. Suggestion #2:
Read up a bit on the person you are smearing. My "About" states very clearly that I'm American.

7) Lesson 7, Twitter and Blogging work best when everyone keeps it positive:
Now at some point in Day 2 (February 15th) I lost my drive. And I can tell you exactly when it happened. I was checking the link he sent Chic Soufflé on cities _not_ to visit... And then he went there… The featured entry on his site for Wednesday was "Paella". Yes, paella, my weak spot. Needless to say I couldn't resist checking what he put up, and offering corrections. 

This had to be baiting me, or some kind of indirect concession to my argument
that Paella is one thing that is Valencian and iconic.

As it turned out it, his entry had a lot of good information, though mixed in with some real fallacious bombs. I was pleased to see him get right the fact that "paella valenciana" doesn't have seafood in it. And the extra line about how to pronounce it correctly. Kudoos! His picture had the red peppers in it, the hallmark of a Castellon paella rather than the traditional Valencia one, but that's nitpicking. But the page also had some serious misinformation. The big one that stood out for me was "paella negra". What the f...? I pointed this out to him, that no local I've ever known has called "arroz negro" "paella", even though it is a paella. To which he responded that there were sites online that did say this. (I also pointed out that "fideuà" is _not_ called paella, ever. This he accepted easily, and changed immediately.)

The "jihad" against paella misinformation: paella (de) marisco,
paella negra arroz negro, paella fideus fideuà... Argg!

In good faith, I ran a google search on paella negra, and sure enough Wikipedia itself appeared among the links that show for "paella negra". But wait, Wikipedia English! So I did what I always do when I have doubts about what I see written on Spain in Wikipedia, I clicked the tab on the left for Español and Català... and sure enough, no mention whatsoever of paella negra. (Hint, hint: because locals don't call it that.) I pointed this discrepancy out to GoSpain on twitter, and he relented.

Open to reasoning, when the evidence is overwhelming.

And here I started to have that change of heart. I realized, he's doing his best with the limited knowledge and indirect exposure that he has. (Okay, so I also lost interest. I'm sure many of you are already thinking: there have got to be better ways to spend one's time than yelling at internet walls.) Perhaps the humble lesson I had realized was that I, too, can be an online impertinente curioso, quick to judge without taking time to understand. Once I sat down and looked through his site, I realized a lot of work had gone into. Don't confuse this for a recommendation. "I have a responsibility to my readers to direct them to good sources of information on Spain..." Forgive my vanity, but you'll still learn more from my Valencian rice entry, than his paella page... he fails to discuss arroz al horno, arroz meloso... In short, his site offers pretty standard and often cursory info, and can be misleading and biased by its authors limited understanding of the subjects he tackles.

His site suffers that common weakness of all writing about Spain by an outsider who only partially understands what he is seeing. He makes many mistakes, like the paella/rice mistake, which a local would _never_ make. Again, I don't see this as a personality flaw. I also make mistakes on my entries, which my wife or in-laws catch, or which my local friends or readers point out to me. There is a vast difference in knowing a city because you've read up on it online versus knowing a city because you've lived and breathed it your entire life. (Indeed, one of the wisest things my older sister once told me was that you don't really know a person until you've been with them through all four seasons of the year.) Locals can also miss things in their own city, but many of the mistakes we expats and outsiders make would leap off the page to them.

"He can be taught!" The Go Spain page on Paella after Damian incorporated my suggestions.

8) Lesson 8, Stop using Wikipedia as a source but then writing like you know what you're talking about
Of course, maybe the real question is what has been the fallout from all this. For one, I'm pleased to say he updated his Paella entry removing the errors I pointed out to him. I also took the opportunity to create a Wikipedia account, and I edited the English entry so that Anglophone Hispanophiles wouldn't continue replicated that mistaken notion of calling "arroz negro" "paella negra". [Let this be a lesson to all of you Spain bloggers out there: when doing your online research for entries, take the extra step of seeing if the Wikipedia entry is different in Spanish (or Catalan) than in English. This is a _big_ clue about the pages' sources of (mis)information.]

That's the good news. The bad news is he has not (as of the posting of this entry) changed the page on "Things to Do in Valencia". I suspect Damian is a proud man, perhaps inflexibly so, and my campaign might have further ossified his opinion of the city and that page's depiction of it. -Sigh-. What's a Valencia lover to do? I'd tell you and other readers to boycott the page, but I doubt I have the kind of internet influence to have much of an impact on his online traffic. -Sigh-.

Even Wikipedia makes mistakes! Here the "arròs negre" entry in English
before I went in and edited it.

My first wikipedia edit... Brave New World!

And, of course, in a way "All news is good news" in the Twitterverse (or at least that's what this web article says about flaming). By tweeting left and right to him, I was giving him free advertising. And likewise, by responding to me he put my name on his readers' radar. So I suppose I should thank him for that. A major fallout was that I picked up some new followers, a couple of which sent me sympathetic tweets. (I'm not Damian's first broken heart.) All of this inspired me to add a new gadget on the left side of this blog: a Twitter window where you can see my lastest tweets. Clearly I'm spending too much time on Twitter, so I may as well share that with you here, too.

And, please, if you ever read anything here that rubs you wrong, don't be afraid to tweet me (or email)... heck, I'd even enjoy a good flaming, if it's for a just cause. ;-)


Mike Powell said...

We didn't see your call to arms, or would have rushed with flaming swords to your aid. This is a hilarious account of one man's lonely quest for justice.

You're not overreacting. It's a terrible way to introduce one of the best cities in Spain. This sentence irks me, too. "It is under two hours from Alicante...", the insinuation being that should have time during your visit Alicante, swing by VLC. Exactly the wrong way around!

Anonymous said...

Despite some mistakes and differences with his opinions, Darrian articles about spain in are fair good compared with many other web sites articles, including some specialized in tourism.

Allexpert in spain section

Kaley [Y Mucho Más] said...

This entry was long and made me laugh in several spots.

I find the places not to visit kind of insulting, but I suppose that perhaps he was asked to write it and had to come up with something? I'd recommend not visit a town called "Feces de Abajo," which I recently learned exists. (Now that I say that, it'll probably turn out to be a lovely town.)

Nothing like a good flame war! But you were very civil, although quite persistent. I'm sure you've made a lifelong friend. I bet he's already planning for next year's Valentine's Day.

An Expat in Spain said...

Hi Mike! Writing this post was worth it just knowing that you guys enjoyed it. Thanks! I did not catch that line about "two hours from Alicante" until you pointed it out here. Amazing! What a backward way to understand the key points of interest of the Mediterranean coast... or at least, it's not a particularly Spanish understanding of it. I find Guirilandia to be such an interesting subculture on the Costa Blanca.

Víctor, I appreciate your weighing in. I agree with you on at least one point, it is clear that Damian has invested a lot of time and energy into his website. That deserves some merit. Still, given his desire to present himself as insider, expert, and taste-maker/adjudicator, I think he invites the kind of criticism I'm laying against him here. I can tell that he has not lived in Valencia, and doesn't really "get" it. (I also feel like Spain has suffered a long history of Hispanophiles like him passing through with their inexpert opinions... thus the epigraph.) So why should his biased and limited opinion be the final word on Why is he so resistant to changing what is clearly such an unfair statement of VLC? I suspect the answer is pride. I'm certain it isn't good travel sense (or advice).

Kaley! Great to see you here again, despite having already weathered one of my rants. I'm torn about his "Worst Cities in Spain" page. Maybe there is a need for such a thing (though one wonders how inept his imagined readers are that they would need to be specifically discouraged to visit some of the places he lists). I think writing such a list would require a delicate touch, something Damian and I will clearly need to discuss over our next year's Valentine's date. (P.S. I'm relieved that a google image search of "feces de abajo" returned picturesque countryside images of Galicia, and not something else. We should all be grateful to that town for this public service alone.)

Tumbit - Mr Grumpy said...

Never trust the opinion of a man who allows himself to be photographed in public wearing a black 'button-down' collar shirt, skillfully paired with a red tie. Even the haircut makes me weep into my Horchata. I may seem bitter, but my own feeble excuse for a blog has reaped the full force of the mighty whit that is Sr C, himself.

Mother Theresa said...

I think Valencia is definitely worth seeing, and maybe I will have to go over to his site and give him "un poco de caña" about his misconceptions. ;)

An Expat in Spain said...

Mr. Grumpy, I hesitated in replying because of how much I agree with your assessment of his photo. It took all my willpower to resist commenting on it in this blog entry. I mean, surely there are some frightening photos of me out there, and the photo aside he was such a lovely Valentine. (I have to add that the "weep into my hortchata" line got a major LOL from my wife.) I could see how your blog wouldn't sit well with Sr. C. He doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor... so your deadpan sarcasm probably wouldn't tickle his funnybone.

Mother Theresa, thanks for getting my back! I had a day to waste bothering Damian this past Feb. 14th, but I wouldn't recommend it to others. (As one person on twitter put it to me, one could "loose the will to live" lobbying him on such issues.) I'm pleased enough that he saw reason to change his paella entry. But he seems to be a prideful man, which makes for poor conversation on these social networks.

I don't think he reads my blog, but I was sincere when I tweeted to him yesterday that I'd love to have his comment and perspective on it here. #FairAndBalanced

Chic Soufflé said...

I'm glad someone has the time and energy to harass this guy and call him on his prideful ignorance (well, in a nicer, more persistent way). I had a good laugh reading through the post!

I just can't believe they pay someone like that to write travel advice. There are so many travel bloggers out there who would be a much better fit, and offer insightful and respectful opinions.

Damian said...

Considering how much effort you've gone to in order to attack me and my site, I owe you the courtesy of a response.

I got two things out our conversation, Mr Earnestly Not Hemingway.

1) There are people who love Valencia.
2) People who love Valencia don't like it when others aren't as passionate about the city as they are.

Should I have ignored your message to me on Twitter? No, the only reason to be on Twitter is to communicate, not to just add RSS feeds to promote a business.

Should I care what you think? No. If I cared what passionate defender of a city I haven't gushed about thought, I would recommend that everyone who visits Spain for two weeks should split their time between Malaga, Marbella, Gibraltar and Valencia, with maybe a day trip to Barcelona if time allows. But then all the other cities' denizens would hurl abuse at me too.

You see, my website is aimed at precisely the visitors to Spain who will in 99% of times spend less than two weeks in the country. I have to weight up the various pros and cons of each city and give my honest, balanced appraisal of each of them in relation to the others in the country. An honesty that you will not find in most newspapers, as they are sent to each city by a tourist board or local business and have to write glowing things about it or they won't be invited back and a balance you will not find in any city-based blog. That is my 'business model'. I'm sorry that you think it is bad. I think it is bad that there are very, very few travel journalists who are honest. My job is not to promote Spain but to advise my readers on where they should go when on a very limited time frame. Having a subjective opinion is not vanity - it is the mission statement of and all its sub-sections.

In my travels through Spain and my time living there, I have seen the beautiful green countryside of Northern Spain, walked from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Finisterre, seen the waves lap at the Rias from the top of the Hercules tower in A Coruna, had my aversion to Pulpo turned to a love in Santiago, seen the amazing cathedrals of Santiago, Burgos, Leon, Palencia, Salamanca, Zaragoza, Seville, Cadiz and many others, drank cider in all its forms of escanciar in Oviedo after hiking up to its Romanesque churches. I've seen the obvious and less-obvious sights in Madrid, Seville and Barcelona, had tapas and pintxos in Granada, Seville, Leon, Bilbao, San Sebastian and Logroño, seen the three faiths of Toledo, the turrets of Avila, the fairytale castle and viaduct of Segovia, the ghastly but historically important Valle de los Caidos, the Alhambra, the Roman ruins of Merida and Tarragona, etc, etc, etc.

I don't say that to gloat, only to say that, shocking as it may seem to you, I don't believe that any of the sights of Valencia can match any of the above. It does not have the iconic sight that means anyone should devote time from their two-weeks-or-under-in-Spain and miss out any of the sights listed above. If you are passing by, or if you are somewhere close like Alicante, you should go for a few days (hence my mention of Alicante, Mike Powell), you really should!

But in my five or six trips there, including an access-all-areas press trip to Las Fallas (my favourite festival in Spain, by the way) where we were shown what the tourist board sees to be the most important sights of the city, neither me nor any of the other writers with me saw what the big deal was (many said they would have to be flattering though, to satisfy their editor). We were taken to the CAC, where we were shown a dolphin show(!) I have seen returned to the CAC by myself. It is a fine science museum, aquarium and more, it really is, and I'm not surprised it is so popular among Spaniards, but there are fine science museums in the US and the UK, where most of my readers come from. Would I advise them to go hours out of their way to see it? No.

Damian said...

...(By the way, how on earth was telling me that the CAC is the most visited sight in Spain supposed to convince me of anything? Your argument was flawed for the following reasons:
1) Since when did popularity equal quality? Do you know which place in Spain has the most hotel beds? Benidorm. I rest my case.
2) The only reason CAC beats the Alhambra is because entrance is limited. It tends to sell out for months of the year.
3) The only reason CAC beats La Sagrada Familia is because most visitors don't go inside. Have you been inside LSF? It's really not worth it.
4) The high number of visitors to the CAC is from Spaniards. There is a world of difference between what a local does and what a visitor wants to do when coming to a city.)

Is the Holy Grail in the cathedral worth seeing? I have a feeling it is fake - I've seen Indiana Jones. Paella? The best paella in Valencia is made at home. I've had paella in Valencia and it had way too many beans. I've had arroz a la banda in Valencia - at a posh restaurant - and found it to be extremely dry. I did have a good paella in Albufera, but I had a better one in Madrid.

Maybe if I lived there I would see what you love about it so much and I would elevate it to a top three position after Madrid and Barcelona. But if I had a local guide for every city in Spain, maybe a number of them would get re-elevated past Valencia! Who knows?

I did my best to write about Valencia fairly, listing what I hope you agree, more or less, to be the top 25 things to do in Valencia (funny how you never even mentioned anything after the first sentence in that article). Local bloggers like you do a great job of being able to do what I can't - write about a city with an intimate knowledge that I don't have, but you can't do what I do and write about the number of cities I have and to give a reader a balanced appraisal of which cities to visit. Maybe you would do a better job than me if you'd had the good fortune to have been able to run a site like mine for six years, but what goes on in parallel universes is only for us to guess.

Your appraisal of my site is grossly unfair. "Limited knowledge and indirect exposure." Do you know how many cities, towns, traditions, festivals, dishes and drinks I have written about from first-hand experience? No I didn't mention arroz meloso. My site is designed for first-time visitors. They aren't going to see arroz meloso on the average paella menu. And, by the way, I wrote that page on paella before wikipedia even had a page about arroz negra.

I'm sorry my sense of humour didn't come out in our 160-character discussions. But, you know what, I truly am fed up with answering critics who say I should love their city as much as they do. The only way to satisfy everyone would be to say: 'All cities in Spain are equally good, visit them all. Start alphabetically. Get a local blogger to show you around. Don't visit any other country ever until you've been to Zurita', but that would piss off the French, and you wouldn't want to do that, would you?

I am sorry I offended you with my opinions. I promise not to have one ever again. Now, I have spent far too much time on this discussion, so I am afraid I won't be responding again. And, congratulations, you have indeed put me off responding to anyone else on Twitter in future.


P.S. Prideful ignorance? I always correct mistakes that are sent to me. Or are you saying that it is 'ignorant' to not love Valencia as much as you do. OK. By that definition, I am indeed ignorant.

P.P.S. Insulting me for my dress sense and hair. Really?

An Expat in Spain said...

Damian (and others), you can find my reply to these comments here:

Sorokin said...

Ha ha ha, "Expat", it was me who called you a "taliban" of the paella valenciana :-). In the first place, I am fron Albacete (see? one of the places that likes Damian), but I live in Brussels. In the second place, calling you a "taliban" was not intended to be a critic, but just to mean that you were strictly adhering to the rules to cook a paella valenciana ("Taliban", actually means "student" in Arabic) and this is not bad, of course, it is as I say, "strict".

An Expat in Spain said...

Sorokin, I knew it was you and I was not offended. I thought it was a hilarious comment, so I couldn't resist putting it here. Though I didn't realize taliban meant "student", so maybe it is apropos. When I first came to Valencia, I did not understand all the fuss about getting paella "just right". After years of living here, I'm "converted". Though if you revisit my "Paella Hall of Shame" you will see a "paella de kimchi" among "The Good". (It is made by the excellent Korean-Valencian bloggers of the same name.) So I'm open to experimentation, if it is done well.

Michael Soffe said...

Love this post - just been through the whole same heap of verbal diarrhoea and uninformed rubbish from him on Malaga.

An American Spaniard said...

Hi Michael Soffe, if it is any consolation you are in very good company. Damian appears to be an example of what pundits have recently labelled a "toxic personality". Prolonged exchange with him will only sour your world view. Experts say that the healthiest thing to do with these kinds of people is avoid them. It is therefore unfortunate that he has been given a privileged position on Spain tourism advice. It makes him harder to avoid. Sounds like you should suffer in silence in down south in sunny Málaga. I prescribe you a couple of trips to the beach a week, and I think you'll get through it ;)

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