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Lorca and the Spanish Civil War

Spanish Salad with Oranges and Olives 4

By Tim Hazell

Federico Garcia Lorca’s life embraced the Spanish Civil War that ultimately devoured him. The poet and playwright embodied the spirit of his native Andalusia. Elements of folklore, combined with surrealism, placed him in a genre by himself. Lorca was born in 1898 and soon began to demonstrate a precocious talent. Despite the somber aspect of his poetry, Lorca was an ebullient, versatile writer and an accomplished musician. The bulls of Andalusia confront a nameless stranger who walks without casting a shadow in this section from “Absent Soul.”

The bull does not know you, nor the fig tree,

nor the horses, nor the ants in your own house.

The child and the afternoon do not know you

because you have died forever.

Lorca’s work was first published in 1918 as a book of prose, Impressions and Landscapes. Spanish infatuation for the bullfight surfaced in plays such as Yerma (1934), chronicling the bleak existence of a barren woman who murders her indifferent husband. Although Lorca traveled widely, he shared an affinity with Pablo Picasso, in that he remained the eternal son of Spain. Looming clouds of civil war are everywhere in the following Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias:


The wind carried away the cottonwool

at five in the afternoon.

And the oxide scattered crystal and nickel

at five in the afternoon.

Now the dove and the leopard wrestle

at five in the afternoon.

And a thigh with a desolated horn

at five in the afternoon.


Phalangist soldiers, under the orders of General Franco, arrested Lorca on August 9, 1936, at the outset of the Spanish Civil War. The poet was taken to a field, shot, and dumped in an unmarked grave. Intent on erasing every vestige of the writer’s memory, the Fascist regime prohibited his books from being published and even references to his name. Tyranny only succeeded in turning him into a symbol of political oppression. Foreign pressure began to loosen Franco’s grip in the nineteen-seventies. Public outcry resulted in the reinstating of Lorca’s work as among the finest Spain has ever produced.

Spanish cooks revel in their country’s cornucopia of ingredients; pork, ham, and sausage from the countryside, Atlantic anchovies, cod and tuna, Mediterranean olives and garlic and Moorish seasonings of saffron and almonds from the South. This salad makes a lovely light lunch, or a great accompaniment!


Spanish Salad with Oranges and Olives


2 oranges

120g baby spinach leaves

1 small Spanish or red onion, finely sliced

1/2 cup small black olives, pitted

1/2 cup blanched whole or flaked almonds, toasted

1 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of sea salt

Ground black pepper



Use a knife to peel the oranges, removing the pith as well. Cut into segments. Place in a large bowl with the spinach, onion, olives, and almonds. Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, and olive oil and seasonings. Pour over the salad and toss gently.


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