Esparto grass is something that I only came to know about in the last few years, since I have been in Spain. We have bought woven Esparto baskets ( by the dozen!), a vintage woven mule`s head, a bull`s head, and a huge lamp shade all made from this native, coarse, long, perennial grass. As you can see from the photographs we keep all manner of things in them too, from fruit to shells to shoes. We love it, it is traditional, and it has soul.
It is used in Southern Europe and North Africa for crafts, basketry and espadrilles, but also I have seen gorgeous heavy blinds that roll down for shading from the hot sun.
It is good to use and display something that is so local and Spanish, and very much part of this country`s heritage ,as it has been used for centuries; for not only basket ware, but for cords, ropes and straps for animals.
But, last week I learnt something new. A friend in the village told me that her father had unfortunately contracted the very nasty virus, shingles, and had the most terrible , painful rash around his middle. She whispered to me that her Auntie was visiting him to work her magic, and cure him. I asked what this entailed ,and apparently she had to pick a piece of fresh ( not dried) Esparto grass, and tap it on his rash every day for nine days!
Well I have to admit although I loved this tale, I presumed that it was a village thing , a `Maro thing` , an `old wives tale`.
I hot footed it back to good old Google. Oh Wow. How wrong was I. Auntie Loli knows what she is doing . Apparently the very similar Wheatgrass extract is also a known remedy for relief from this painful rash. Auntie Loli cuts the Esparto grass each day, so presumably the fresh `sap` comes out, and is applied to the skin each time it is tapped.
All very interesting , and method in her madness. And as for Antonio- yes he is soooo much better.I have seen photographic evidence!