When Joe Cowley and girlfriend Joy decided to leave the murky damp English weather and the cold wet Lancashire fish market where they worked to head for the sunnier climes of Canary Island, Tenerife they presumed they would be escaping the moaning English customers too – they were very wrong.
More ketchup than salsa is rather a sad portrayal of Brits aboard, and as Joe and Joy found out they met very few Spanish, for the bar they bought was a "British" bar. No salsa and paella here but ketchup, Sunday roasts and drunken English “enjoying” their holiday.
As I Brit I find the book a huge embarrassment and if I was Joe and Joy I would not want to broadcast escapades with cockroachs, drunks and ten tons of chips. Though I wish them no ill will, they deserve to make it work, as work they do. It’s their punters I would change.
The only saving grace that I can think of as to why this book should be read is to put off the hundreds or thousands of people who have dreams of running a bar in Spain, and of those that go through with it only to go back to England, wiser, and with a lighter bank account.
More Ketchup than Salsa droned on long past its best, cut out a third of the trivial page filling anecdotes and the book would have been more lively and less painful to finish.
The Smugglers Tavern bar is on an urbanisation with over a hundred minuscule bungalows and two-storey apartments the majority of which are owned by foreigners, English and Germans rule.
Joined by Joe’s brother and his girlfriend, the four of them are thrown in at the deep end, with four days to learn the ropes from the previous owner the fun starts. For them.
I found it a little tedious having to go to the shops with them and cook an egg with them, learn to pull a pint and not be rude to the customers – well not too often, led to a tedious read and a fair bit of page skimming.
If you hope to glimpse the real Tenerife through this book, forget it. It’s more a glimpse of the British package tour brigade without any enlightenment.
Between local mafia types wanting to put the squeeze on them and the failing of one of the relationships, they’ve had a tough lesson. I really hope it has worked out for them, but I’m not champing at the bit for a sequel to this travel book.