Marker on stained paper table-cover

remembering the Semana Cultural de Foios, 1991


One evening, as I sat in Tinto y Oro quietly browsing through a volume of Cossio, José Maria Aragón invited me to accompany him to Foios for the town’s annual taurine gala. According to its tourist information, Foios is ‘a typically agricultural Valencian municipality, whose gastronomy is rich in variety and quality of rice dishes’, so the invitation was gladly accepted. Foios is also the ancestral home of the Ruiz Soro family whose main members are maestro Vicente and his brothers, matador Antonio and Jaime a picador who acted in the cuadrillas of his brothers as well as those of maestros Luis Francisco Esplá, Vicente Barrera and Abellán.

I had been to Foios some years before, on the eve of Antonio’s alternativa. My hosts had warmly called the event ‘an armpit dinner’ because of the delicious, home made bocadillos wrapped in aluminium foil. But I also remembered the large decorated venue and that beside the famous silver sandwiches, there were long tables with wine bottles, water jugs and plates with Spanish omelette, olives, and a fine selection of queso manchego and Serrano ham. It was a splendid party.

Tonight was all about Emilio Muñoz who had been awarded the trophies for last year’s feria by the local peñas ‘Los Hermanos Soro’ and the ‘Peña Feminina’. Emilio was treated like royalty and as poems in honor of his fine performance were recited, he accepted his rewards with a smile. Even though he had been left out of this year’s Valencian corridas, the honored matador had come up from Sevilla especially for this celebration and afterwards graciously complied with anyone who wanted a photograph taken with him or asked him for his autograph.

Across from me sat Vicente Luna an artist most celebrated for the creation of many of Valencia’s remarkable ‘Fallas’. I noticed that amid the chorus of praise for Emilio, Vicente almost absent mindedly, started to sketch a torero and bull on the white paper table-cover. I saw the bull go for the right hand and the matador cleverly averting the charge by raising the muleta. The animal dangerously jumped up as it passed him.

The banquet continued. It was getting late and the artist had gone home. A coffee cup left a stain on the bull’s neck muscle. Seeing the drawing deserted and in danger I quickly tore it out and walked over to Emilio. “With pleasure”, he said when I asked him to sign my trophy.

Crónica de :Pieter Hildering