They had discovered one of the greatest fast-food establishments in the Iberian Peninsula. Leonardo's is a chain that specializes in quick, cheap, late-night eats that fill the stomach and satisfy the soul. Even though, at 37 years of age, I am out of my prime in the category of post-bar eating, I had to find a chance to try what had so enticed the students.
My first attempts were thwarted by its late hours: you see, Leonardo's does not open until 8 p.m. (and closes when?). My first excursions were turned away as mid-day jaunts to eat what is reserved for the nocturnal animals who drink and dance until way past 4 a.m. One of the last nights of the program, I found myself on the streets (early by Spain's standards - 10 p.m.) and relatively hungry. Leonardo's? Number 9? I was on a mission.
A friend of mine often says the number 9 is the last original number (the rest being a combination of the first 10 original digits). Was this a portend of greatness, the incredibility of what I was about to taste? Quite simply, yes. Words lack to describe the rush to the head the chicken, pork, cheese, grease, fat and sauce induce. Think of the first time you saw the Diag, realized you were in love or that Kevin Spacey was Keyser Söze in the Usual Suspects. Leonardo's number 9, the last original goodness in an over-saturated market of fast-food delights, delivers, on many different levels.
Unveiling the sandwich from its wrapper revealed a landscape bold, imposing and challenging. Much like Pizarro, surveying the Inca army, 80,000 strong, before the Battle of Cajamarca, I found myself wondering how to handle such an unwieldy opponent. Knife and fork? Lord, man, no! With both hands I dove in and soon realized the error of my ways. The chicken separated itself from the ham like a media rep for Mel Gibson on a three-day bender while the bun and lettuce went south before I could trap them with my pinkies. With a fist full of meat, cheese, lettuce and sauce dripping down between my fingers, I realized I was out-manned on this mission. It was time to call in reinforcements. Much as Bush Senior summoned the National Guard in 1992, I realized my only recourse were the utensils safely guarded in the drawer.
At a slower, and more relaxed pace, I could begin to appreciate what had so attracted my students. The combination of ham, poultry and cheese (think a Cordon Bleu without the deep-frying) accompanied with a cheap mayonnaise (and even cheaper bun) is delicious, filling and (dare I say?) glorious. Thank you, students, for insisting on visiting this hidden treasure of the Salamanca nightlife. I definitely do not fit the demographic profile of its target group, but enjoyed the product, nonetheless.