The Zamoran Invasion

Mario called it The Zamoran Invasion. My friend’s Spanish husband referred to it as The Spanish Invasion. Whatever you want to call it, invasion or otherwise, it was definitely chaotic. But also fun. We showed our guests, my in-laws, quite a few places and events, all of which I’ll get around to discussing eventually, but for now I’d just like to list a few stray observations:

Shouting about green spaces

A Zamoran, invading

Green, green everywhere.

One thing my in-laws couldn’t stop talking about—wherever we went—was how green everything was. Even Galicia and Asturias are not this green, they said. But, you ask, did they like this?

You bet they did! I too am a fan of green spaces, and not just in parks. Spain’s climate is noticeably drier than most of the US’s, so there is a lot less green and a lot more brown.

It’s okay to think that: green is better than brown.

What is it with the raw vegetables?

I hadn’t ever thought about this, but we tend to eat more raw vegetables than Spaniards. (Spaniards definitely eat more vegetables than the average American, though.) I love a good veggie tray, and we thus had a few different ones during our stay.

My in-laws tried raw broccoli (with homemade dip!) for the first time. My mother-in-law confessed to loving baby carrots, which she referred to as “esas zanahorias pequeñitas.”

Crunch, crunch, crunch on those: baby carrots.

Coffee can be flavored.

In Spain, coffee is pretty much espresso + milk, and it is delicious. (Although let’s not compare to Italy’s or else I’ll start craving the daily cappuccinos I had on our honeymoon in Italy.) Flavored coffee is not something that happens in Spain.

So when my in-laws said they had some gas-station coffee, I was concerned. I’ve only once had it, and it was pure swill. I couldn’t finish the cup. (Snob? No way.) Apparently, though, they’d had one of those ultra-sweet flavored kinds, something like French Vanilla, and … they loved it. Never would have expected that.

Me? I’m still sticking to my relaxing cups of café con leche made by my amazing espresso machine in Madrid.

Remember that: coffee is good, and if it’s bad, flavor it.

America makes you go to bed earlier.

It was kind of funny to see my in-laws adjust so rapidly to the American timetable. In Spain, going to bed at midnight and getting up at 8 or 8:30 a.m. is normal. But in the States, they found themselves exhausted by 11 p.m.

But then they were up by 7:30 a.m.! My father-in-law took a walk, took pictures of traffic signs, and spoke to some Amish roofers one morning—all before I woke up!

You may have been in the States too long if it seems that: 11 p.m. is late.

The dessert schedules are different.

In my family at least, we tend to eat dinner and then wait a bit to have dessert (if we have any at all). In Spain, we normally have dessert right after the fruit course, with no times for the stomach to do any digesting. I confess to being a fan of this schedule, and I don’t think my in-laws minded at all. More space for black raspberry pie, after all!

Plan you dessert schedule in such a way that: you can eat twice as much.

Wine from California can be delicious.

I don’t think they doubted this, but they tried wine from California and Washington state, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. My mom and dad had bought some wine during their trip to the Sonoma valley, and it was indeed quite drinkable. We had several different kinds during their stay, and they liked them all!

You don’t a sommelier to know that: Wine is good.

Things are bigger in America.

Self explanatory. Also: Chicago has real skyscrapers.

Just admit that: bigger is better.

Say hello.

My father-in-law got quite used to the fact that people would say hello as they passed us or randomly wave at us even though they didn’t know us. Had we given him a few more weeks, I’m sure he’d have been the one initiating contact!

You know you’re craving that: Midwestern friendliness.

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21 comments

  1. Loved reading about how your in-laws coped with USA. I am from England and have never eaten raw broccoli or seen it offered. Maybe I need to get out more. I agree with yoi Spanish Coffee is great. Apparently the taste it is to do with spraying around 20% of the beans with some sort of sugar solution before roasting. I get totally confused on all those Spanish styles of presenting Spanish coffee, cortados, con leche and the differences in how much milk versus espresso, etc Are Lattes and Mochas predominantly an American thing as I cannot recall seeing those drinks offered in south east Spain where I frequent. Anyway, all the best to you. Ian (United Kingdom) x

  2. I loved this. It is so much fun to show Spaniards the United States and to see what they like/find interesting or good (gas station coffee, really?). My then-boyfriend loved: English muffins; detached/standalone single family houses; school buses; high school sports teams; diners.

    I know I don’t know you :-), and maybe this is just voyeuristic or something, but I can’t wait to hear more!

  3. I had to laugh at the picture in my head of Marios dad talking with the Amish workers. So glad they were able to come and I was able to (briefly) meet them!

  4. Who knew how American red stop signs would be considered exotic haha! Your father-in-law’s fascination with things we consider so mundane is so cute, it makes you think twice about things that we think are normal and boring.

    My French relatives who come to visit have always been especially obsessed with the squirrels and take pictures of them. We had a French cousin and her friend staying with us for two weeks in July. I told them they would eventually see the deer roaming around in the backyard and they were pretty shocked when they saw them.

  5. haha this was a fun read! my boyfriend’s parents haven’t visited the US yet (though that would be super interesting when that happens!), but my bf (he’s English) has. I remember the first time he and I visited my parents in the suburbs, and all he could say was “this is so America!” when he saw the corn fields, barns, etc. He also kept saying how big the house and the yard were (Note: it’s a typical suburban house, not a mansion or anything.). Oh, and of course the skyscrapers! Can’t beat Chicago when compared to Madrid or my bf’s town! hehe

  6. I think the best cafe I’ve ever had was in Cuba! I love Italian coffee as well, though North America as a whole offers so much variety that you can find the good stuff, too. Although the typical cup of just coffee is gross in Canada/USA.

    1. You are indeed right about NA’s variety. That’s the thing, we have terrible but we also have excellent. (You just have to know where to find it.) And yes, the typical cup of coffee isn’t too good … although I might still drink it. :P

    1. LOL loveable alien!!

      I loved showing them everything for that very reason—they were so struck by it all! It was tons of fun. I really didn’t think they’d ever go, but they did! It was an adventure of a lifetime!

  7. Ha this was a really fun post! Looking forward to hearing and seeing what your familia política thought of America & the Midwest. I’m glad they got to interact with Amish people; do y’all live near Shipshewana or something?

    BTW you said on FB you went to southern Indiana…did you show them Brown County and the lovely woods of its State Park?

    1. No, we live in west-central Indiana, so it’s not normal to see a LOT of Amish people. Though if you go west one county, you will (Parke County).

      We did NOT go to Brown County, as we didn’t have time!! But as an alum of Indiana University, I do love Brown County State Park! Especially in October. When did you go?

      1. Well, I was born in Indianapolis, and all my extended family still lives there, so we go up north every couple years or so to visit and we inevitably make a trip down to Brown County for a cookout/cabin stay and Nashville for the shopping. We once spent a few nights in Shipshewana, which I guess is Amish country central.

        I’ve lived in Texas all my life, but I am still a Hoosier transplant :)

    1. My in-laws usually have coffee from a normal drip coffeemaker after lunch, and it’s “poco fuerte,” as my brother-in-law puts it, so they’re used to that. Plus they usually have a cup of 3/4 milk, 1/4 coffee for breakfast, so it’s hard to tell. It’s more about the milk.

      But yeah, I think if they had tried to drink straight, drip, gas-station coffee, they would have thought it pretty gross.

  8. I adoreee this post! My au pair family has traveled a lot but have never been to California and I am dying to take them to San Francisco’s Chinatown, haha. Your suegros are the absolute cutest.

  9. I never noticed until now about the raw veggies! It’s nice to read about your in-laws seeing your “other” life. It must have been exciting to see where you come from.

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