A Barcelona food blog
The ‘Casa Asia’, an Asian cultural centre on Diagonal surprised me in many ways when I visited at the weekend. Firstly because I was not expecting to be viewing photos of Afghanistan in such a magnificent building and secondly because I stumbled across the opportunity to watch a Japanese tea ceremony.
The building, a former palace created for the Baron of Quadras at the turn of the last century is an example of architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch‘s Modernisme work, which like Gaüdi’s, is littered around Barcelona. This masterpiece of Gothic architecture is worth a visit regardless of the many art, photographic, film and other cultural activities that take place to celebrate the countries of the East. The amount of detail to take in is dizzying at times, no corner has been left untouched by tiling, sculpture or iron work.
The tea ceremony brought us Eastern culture in a room so firmly steeped in Catalan heritage. The short fifteen minute demonstration was being given to raise money for those suffering the consequences of the recent devastating tsunami in Japan. The 15 minute ceremony was conducted entirely in silence, save for several selfish, amateur photographers who disrupted the calm with a constant clicking and beeping from their cameras and jostling to take pictures amongst those watching. Chado, as the ceremony is known in Japanese, is delicate and meticulous and begins by a guest seated next to the matting being given a portion of a sweet which looked very similar to turkish delight. The tea preparer who was wearing a stunning kimono then uses a square cloth to clean all the utensils to be used. She carefully folded and unfolded it in a prescribed manner and used the gentlest of touches for each one; the bowl, the ‘ladle’ and the thin scoop for the green tea.Once the tea and hot water have been combined they are whisked together using a utensil that looked not too disimilar to my late grandad’s shaving brush. The tea is then served in a separate bowl, which is rotated a couple of times in the preparer’s hand before being passed to the guest who gives thanks for the tea and again rotates it before drinking.
The information produced by ChaDo-Raku, the group at Casa Asia who regularly participate in tea ceremonies states:
“…the tea ceremony is a ritual developed to staisfy the intimate need of man; to acquire internal peace. It’s a simple and economic ritual in which everyone can find ‘peace in a cup of tea.’ ”
It seems the Japanese, also a large population crammed onto small islands, may have more in common with us than we first thought, although this ritual is more elaborate than our British style of ‘stick the kettle on’.
Casa Asia, Diagonal 373