with BAR­RIE MA­HONEY

Q Magazine - - Travel - If you en­joyed this ar­ti­cle, take a look at my web­sites: http://bar­riema­honey.com and http://theca­nary­is­lander.com or read my lat­est book, ‘Liv­ing in Spain and the Ca­nary Is­lands’ (ISBN: 9780995602724). A vail­able in pa­per­back, as well as Kin­dle edi­tions

Bar­rie Ma­honey was a head teacher and school in­spec­tor in the UK, as well as a re­porter in Spain, be­fore mov­ing to the Ca­nary Is­lands to launch and edit a new English lan­guage news­pa­per. He en­joys life in the sun as a colum­nist and au­thor, and con­tin­ues to write a se­ries of pop­u­lar nov­els and books for ex­pats.

Over­weight ‘Bride­grooms of Death’ I guess that many of us may have over in­dulged dur­ing the Christ­mas and New Year fes­tiv­i­ties, and I as­sume that many are now in the pe­riod where re­luc­tant gym mem­ber­ships are boom­ing, as well as des­per­ate sub­scrip­tions to Weight Watch­ers. Sadly, all those temp­ta­tions do have a price to pay when we see that we can no longer squeeze into our favourite clothes.

One of the many fat in­duc­ing temp­ta­tions read­ily avail­able in Spain and the Ca­nary Is­lands are ‘Chur­ros con Choco­late', which is ba­si­cally deep fried pas­try strips, rolled in sugar and dipped into hot choco­late as they are eaten. This ‘snack' is hugely pop­u­lar in Spain, Por­tu­gal and the Ca­nary Is­lands, as well as the United States, France and Mex­ico. De­pend­ing upon the time of day, and the state of your ap­petite, they can be both de­li­cious and dis­gust­ing at the same time. In­deed, it is not un­usual to see lo­cals pol­ish­ing off a huge quan­tity of chur­ros in cafe bars for their break­fast. Need­less to say, it is an ex­cel­lent way to pile on the pounds, as well as keep­ing the health ser­vice busy with the coro­nar­ies that are the re­sult of this over in­dul­gence. My ad­vice is to avoid them at all costs.

Speak­ing of be­ing over­weight and di­ets, you re­ally should take a look at Spain's ‘Bride­grooms of Death', which is the cheer­ful nick­name given to Spain's elite in­fantry reg­i­ment, ‘La Legión'. The reg­i­ment is loosely based upon the French For­eign Le­gion, as a pres­tige com­bat unit with its best known mem­ber be­ing Gen­eral Franco dur­ing the Span­ish Civil War.

Usu­ally ad­mired for their hand­some phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance, these fine men are usu­ally well known for their tas­selled caps, to keep the flies off, and open necked shirts, to keep us all in­ter­ested. Their uni­form tra­di­tion­ally does not have a top but­ton, which aids their rep­u­ta­tion as “the top totty killers of Europe”. Sadly, this much-cov­eted rep­u­ta­tion is rapidly dis­ap­pear­ing, since it was found that a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of the 3000 troops were found to be obese, based upon their body mass in­dex (BMI) of over 30.

This elite force is now hav­ing a few prob­lems in the obe­sity de­part­ment and the troops are now be­ing given di­etary ad­vice, nutri­tion tips, as well as ad­di­tional ex­er­cise to over­come their rapidly ex­pand­ing waist­lines with a tar­get loss of be­tween 500g and 1kg a week. Al­though ‘La Legión makes the valid point that sig­nif­i­cant weight gain may be as a re­sult of cul­tural, patho­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal fac­tors, I firmly be­lieve that chur­ros and hot choco­late are to blame.

So, there we have it. As we humbly trot off to the gym at the begin­ning of this New Year, and prefer­ably to one that does not in­clude a bar and restau­rant, let us think long and hard about these fine Span­ish men who are un­der­tak­ing one of the big­gest bat­tles of their lives - that of los­ing weight with­out the com­fort of a plate­ful of chur­ros and hot choco­late to fall back on. Sadly, for many, I sus­pect that it will soon not just be the top but­ton of their shirt that is miss­ing.

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