lists

¡Qué Calor!

Spanish word of the moment: calor, meaning heat. In Madrid, we’ve been experiencing an ola de calor, or heat wave. Temperatures have reached 38 C, 100 F, with no relief in sight. I know you sevillanos have us beat, but my mother used to say if there was one thing I hated, it was being hot. And sweating. Nowadays I don’t mind sweating that much—except at night. Is there anything less conducive to a good night’s rest than beads of sweat rolling down your back?

How to beat the heat (without central air)?

Fans, fans, fans.

Dog Fan

We have a large, industrial-size fan here. It was here when we moved in. Now I’m finding out why!

Buy yourself a pingüino.

Pingüino Aire Acondicionado

No, I’m not talking about the animal, although they are cute. I don’t really know why, but the nickname here in Spain for a portable air conditioner is pingüino.

Spray yourself.

Spray Bottle

I headed down to the nearest chino (your go-to-for-everything store, usually run by people from China) and bought myself a €0.90 spray bottle. I fill it up with cold water and spray myself every so often.

Head to a pool.

If you are not one of the lucky ones who has a pool in their apartment complex, there are public pools in Madrid.

Do not cook. Ever.

Since the school year is over, I have more free time. And since I’m abandoning Mario for a while in order to see my family, I decided to fulfill all stereotypes and cook him so food to freeze. (Mario often works from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and thus cannot go to grocery stores in Spain, since they are not open at those times). But this makes you hotter and hotter, and cooking while sweating is not relaxing.

Eat well.

Gazpacho Andaluz

Source: Spanish Sabores

Spain is known for its gazpacho, and gazpacho is a great way to use delicious summer tomatoes. Check out my fellow blogger’s gazpacho recipe. Some other great Spanish dishes include salmorejo, ajoblanco, escabeches, and mojete, among many more.

Cold showers.

Self explanatory.

I’m headed home on July 11, but not before Mario and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary this weekend! Can you believe it’s already been a year?

About these ads

Hey, It’s Okay!

I admit, I’ve read Glamour magazine a time or two. Do you remember their “Hey, It’s OK!” section? Like, it’s okay to wear the same fancy dress to a wedding or two or three. It’s okay to have a snack on you at all times. Well, I’d like to present you with my own Spain-expat-blogger edition.

[Images from #TheTopKnot tumblr, which are gifs about blogging. Hilarious!]

Hey, It’s OK!

… if you don’t take a different trip every month. Just because you live in Spain doesn’t mean you cant enjoy being at home. Likewise, if you do travel a lot—hey, it’s okay!

… if you’re just not that into Instagram. Another sunset picture? Legs on the beach? Coffee? Everyone always seems shiny and happy there, and that’s cool, but life isn’t always shiny and happy and full of latte art. Unfortunately.

When a big blogger posts an Instagram of Froyo and 500 people like it

Big Blogger Instagram Froyo

… if you’re not interested in attending any blogging conferences. I’m an introvert; it’s part of the reason why I blog. Me + a bunch of other potential introverts = Errrrmmmm.

… if you don’t always speak Spanish to your Spanish partner, even though it is just the absolute best way to practice and learn a language and blah, blah, blah. Stop guilt tripping yourself!

… if you’re not all that interested in Spanish cinema or television shows. Except for Master Chef, because I just discovered that and it is wonderful.

… if the idea of self promotion still skeeves you out a bit. I get it, it’s essential for success, but sometimes I just want people to follow me because they like my content, not because I annoy them on Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare.

… if you really like comments and get disappointed when you don’t get any (or very few).

When I’m really excited about a post and no one comments right away

Comments

… if you might actually prefer to live in the US than in Spain. As hard as it is for some to believe, some of us like Spain—a lot!— but would prefer to live in the—gasp!—United States, closer to family, friends, and corn fields. (Okay, maybe not that last one.)

Now this is me:

When I know I’ve written a post that might piss some people off

Ron Swanson grimace

What would you add to this list?

The Other Sports—There’s More than Just Soccer in Spain

Soccer, soccer, soccer. Or—if you must—football, football, football. (As an aside, please do not get Mario started on this topic about the inane naming of a sport where you hardly use your feet.)

Living in Spain means being constantly surrounded by the sport. I tried to resist, but resistance is futile. Grin and bear it until your grin is no longer fake. Empecé a cogerle cariño (I started to almost like it) in the summer of 2010, when Spain was fighting to win its first World Cup title. Iniesta, you changed my life. I do love the Spanish national team, but when it comes to La Liga or la Champion’s, you can count me out.

Camiseta Selección Española

Besides, I’m a Hoosier. We eat, sleep, drink, and dream basketball.

Hoosier Hysteria

But—believe it or not!—there are other sports in Spain. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular.

Motorsports

Motorsports include Formula One, IndyCar, Stock Car (see: NASCAR), Motocross, and all other sorts of racing involving motorized vehicles. In Spain, the most popular ones are Formula 1 and some involving motorcyles (e.g., MotoGP).

Fernando Alonso 2012 Grand Prix

[Source: Wikipedia]

Some of the most famous Spanish athletes in this category include: Fernando Alonso, a Formula One driver (piloto, as they in Spanish), a two-time World Champion, who races for Ferrari; Jorge Lorenzo, a motorcycle road racer and World Champion in 250cc and MotoGP; and Dani Pedrosa, a Grand Prix motorcycle racer and champion in 250cc Grands Prix.

Basketball

People do like basketball in Spain, and the NBA is very popular here, sometimes even more popular than back at home. (In Indiana, we’re college-basketball fans.) Sometimes when I mention that I’m from Indiana, someone will excitedly shout at me, “Indiana Pacers!” There is also a Spanish league, called La Liga ACB, and it’s regulated by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA from its name in French). This league is regulated quite differently from the NBA and is populated by many Americans who weren’t quite good enough to make it back home as well as others who desire to play in the competitive European leagues.

The Spanish league competes to win the Copa del Rey, the King’s Cup, (just like in the soccer league) as well as in the Euroleague.

Some Spanish-basketball-player names you may recognize:

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, is four-time NBA All-Star and has won two NBA championships with the Lakers.

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio, who plays for Minnesota Timberwolves, was the youngest player ever to play in the Spanish league at age 14. He was drafted by the Timberwolves in 2009, and thus became the first player born in the 1990s to drafted by the NBA.

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka, who plays for Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Supersonics), is a Spanish player who was born in the Republic of the Congo. He is the third youngest of eighteen (!) siblings.

Tennis

Perhaps the biggest reason tennis is so popular is Rafa Nadal, considered to be the best Spanish tennis player of all time.

Rafa Nadal

Rafa, also known as “The King of Clay” for his incredible success on clay courts, is only 26 years old, but has won eleven Grand Slam singles titles (including seven French Open titles) and an Olympic gold medal in singles in 2008. His success, charisma, and general likability have turned him into the singular reason for the sport’s popularity in Spain.

Futsal

Futsal (fútbol sala) is like soccer, but played indoors on a smaller field. Its name comes from the Portuguese futebol de salão, “hall football.” Spain’s team has won the FIFA Futsal World Cup twice and the UEFA Futsal Championship six times, making it second after Brazil.

Handball

Perhaps the most surprising of all to me, handball (balonmano) is quite popular around the country. In handball, two teams of seven players pass the ball (with their hands, surprise surprise!) in order to score a goal. There are two thirty-minute halves. Goals are scored quite frequently, and the game moves fast, making it enjoyable to watch.

Handball Spain Champions

[Source]

In 2013, Spain won the World Men’s Handball Championship, defeating Denmark 35–19.

Cycling

Cycling is also quite popular here, and has been since the mid-1900s. The Vuelta a España, or Tour of Spain, is one of the most important events in the cycling world alongside the famous Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.

The Tour de France is unquestionably the most famous of the three, and there have been Spanish champions, including Federico Bahamontes, Luis Ocaña, Pedro Delgado, Óscar Pereiro, Alberto Contador, and Carlos Sastre. But perhaps the most famous is Miguel Indurain, who won for five years running between 1991 and 1995 and held the record until broken by Lance Armstrong. (This is not to say there hasn’t been cycling controversy here the same as in the US.)

Miguel Indurain

Miguel Indurain in 1996

So there you have it. Spain: it’s not all about football. (But it is mainly about football. No denying it.)

11 Things I Would Never Buy and 8 Things I Would at Taste of America

Whenever I’m asked about my hobbies, I always say cooking (and reading). I love trying new recipes, cuisines, and tastes. Luckily for me, I have a husband who’s willing to try almost anything (except spicy—he’s not into that). There’s nothing better than mastering a dish, especially when your husband’s from another country and you have finally gotten your tortilla de patatas just right.

The problem about cooking (and eating!) in another country is that sometimes you can’t find what you want. There are certain ingredients that aren’t sold here, at least in your neighborhood supermarket. When I was living in smaller towns—Toledo (2008), Salamanca (2009–2010), or Zamora (2011, 2012)—I noticed this a lot.

I understand the desire for a store that’s just like back home. You know, Trader Joe’s would be nice sometimes. But sometimes I see the products advertised at Taste of America, and I have to admit I would never buy some of those things. Some I would, though. But which ones?

Things I Would Never Buy

Peanut butter in the jar

  1. Peanut butter. Okay, if you don’t have a food processor, I would buy this. However, I do have my nice little food processor, and making your own nut butter couldn’t be easier. The only downside is the clean up.
  2. Mixes. Make your own cake or brownies. Way cheaper, and healthier (not so many chemicals!).
  3. Frosting. Likewise, it’s way too easy to make your own frosting. I have my favorite frosting recipe, and it is amazing! You don’t have to use powdered sugar! Popcorn popped on a white background
  4. Popcorn. There is popcorn here; enough said.
  5. Vegetable dip mix. This is easy enough to do it yourself. I like this recipe, with Greek yogurt and a bunch of spices you already have in your cabinet.
  6. Baking soda and corn starch. Why buy these when they already exist over here, and for a much cheaper price? Look for bicarbonato (baking soda) and maizena (corn starch).
  7. Strawberry syrup. Because no. Because it’s gross? Because I once vomited after eating this.
  8. Guacamole mix. Guys, making great guacamole is not difficult. The only semi-difficult part might be finding cilantro, but I’ve seen it in nearby fruterías, so don’t despair. Pop-Tarts
  9. Pop Tarts. Who knew that one could actually purchase this for the low, low price of €5.60 ($7.28)? These breakfast delicacies bring me back to my middle-school days, when they were my dad’s daily breakfast.
  10. Marshmallows. I don’t have anything against them, and I get why you’d want to buy them, but marshmallows just aren’t my thing.
  11. Yeast. Yes, thank you I would like to pay 10x more yeast!

Things I Would Totally Buy

Pretzels

  1. Pretzels. Yeah, I’ve seen them here, but—to be frank—they suck. I would love to get my hands on some of these pretzels, most notably the Snyder’s Sourdough Hard Pretzels, although the nearly €4 ($5.20) price tag kind of puts me off.
  2. Cheez-Its. These sorts of tasty, cheesy crackers can’t really be found here. The cracker culture is really lacking. I have actually made my own before, and it’s not that difficult, just time consuming, but I think I’d rather do it myself than pay €6.35 for one box!
  3. Maple syrup. Worth it. I do think there are some specialty Spanish shops that will sell it, but the good stuff (a.k.a. not Aunt Jemima’s) is worth forking over some hard-earned cash.
  4. Some cereals. I am a little bit ashamed to admit that I saw this box of Cap’n Crunch and suddenly had the urge to grab a huge bowl of it. Peanut butter, regular … come back to me! Sriracha
  5. Sriracha. I would buy this amazing sauce. Mario might not touch it, but this sauce is so versatile. You can use it on shrimp, in a Bloody Mary, cornbread muffins, on popcorn, in dips … the list goes on and on. But I don’t see this listed at Taste of America. Too bad!
  6. Blow pops. I have this weird love for all things lollipop. Yeah, I’d buy ’em!
  7. Reese’s. There’s nothing like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Although I do make my own desserts that combine the two, Reese’s satisfies a childhood craving. Ranch Dressing
  8. Ranch dressing. Ranch dressing is a gift given to man; we must not waste it.

Which products would you buy?