Hey guys! I was just interviewed by Corbett over at his blog at Dawgs in Valencia. Check it out!
Nueves meses de invierno, tres meses de infierno.
Perhaps you grew up in sunny southern California and you would beg to disagree. But sorry, no—you’re also wrong.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for a good survey post. Even back in the day of Myspace (ooh! cringe!), I loved those posts where you listed your favorite drink (non-alcoholic, of course!) or the last thing you ate. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me. I saw another blogger’s post about her favorites, and I started to think it would be fun to share my favorite things about Spain, the country I call home—for now.
It’s such a tough decision. But I’m going to have to say salchichón, made by mother- and father-in-law. There is no comparison with the storebought version, and do not give me fuet. (By the way, I also appreciate Zamora’s version of cured sheep’s milk cheese, and I will never say no to lentejas!)
There’s no doubt—wine from the Toro region. Maybe I’ve become a bit tiresome, but I will never stop touting the wine from my husband’s home region. Toro wine isn’t for those who really don’t like red wine, though. You have to love the tannins!
I am obsessed with the word vale, and I recognize that my answer is unsatisfying. I don’t know why, but there’s something about that word. You know when a Spanish person is explaining something to you, and they keep repeating, Vale? Well, I love the way it sounds and especially the way certain people say it. Creepy? I swear it’s not!
I love studying Spanish idioms, so it’s not easy for me to pick a favorite. But I think “No es moco de pavo” (“It’s not a turkey booger”) is pretty hilarious for saying something is a pretty big deal. Some other funny ones:
- Disfrutar como un enano (To enjoy oneself like a dwarf)—To have a great time
- No se ganó Zamora en una hora (Zamora wasn’t won in a day)—Rome wasn’t built in a day. <–It’s obvious why I like this one, right?!
I’m talking chain stores here, so I’ll go with Mango.
I tend to read all three of Spain’s papers (El Mundo, El País, and ABC), but I have recently been enjoying El Confidencial. But please remember: Never read the comments. Ever.
8. Television Show
Do you hate me for admitting I don’t watch much Spanish television? Sitcoms aren’t really my thing, so those are out. I hate talk shows. I haven’t seen Isabel. I know! I suppose my favorite would have to be Lo Sabe, No Lo Sabe.
If sports stars count—Rafa Nadal. A close second would be Iker Casillas and Andrés Iniesta (whom I must include due to his pivotal role in helping Spain to win the 2010 World Cup). I’m not a fan of Penélope Cruz or Javier Bardem, but that may have to do with the fact that all my Spanish friends dislike them!
Mario. Duh! Most obvious and sappiest answer!
Where is your home? Is it the house you grew up in, where you went to university, or perhaps where you live now with your significant other? For me, it’s all three of those things. It’s the house I grew up in, it’s my university town, and it’s certainly where I live now.
For me, home isn’t just one fixed place. Home is where I lay my head; home is where I feel most myself. I currently lay my head in Madrid, Spain, but I feel most myself here, in Indiana.
Where do you feel most yourself?
Microbreweries. Cupcakes. Craft cocktails. iPhones. What do these things, seemingly unrelated, have in common? They’re all things that rose to popularity in the U.S. before making the journey to Spain.
Over the few years that I’ve lived in Spain, I’ve seen many trends wax and wane—both here and across the pond. Many of the trends in Spain were ones I had seen earlier in the U.S. Whereas Blackberries were popular during my sophomore and junior years of college, by the time my senior year rolled around, everyone had an iPhone. Craft beer was a big deal a long while ago in the States. Cupcakes in 2013? Um, haven’t you heard of the cronut?
One big trend that’s taken off in Madrid and many other parts of Spain is American-style brunch. Spanish people tend to eat small breakfasts and big lunches around 2 or 3 p.m., but if you call it brunch and hand them a mimosa, they’re more than happy to chow down on a plateful of huevos rancheros at 11 a.m. As one Spanish newspaper explains, “It’s obviously not necessary to do both [breakfast and lunch] if you decide to ‘brunch.’”
Although I’m actually not a huge fan of breakfast food or brunch, most guiris love this cross between breakfast and lunch, especially when it involves hash browns, or as one Madrid blogger put it, “a delicious, delicious potato cracker.”
What to eat? Try:
- Eggs Benedict
- Huevos rancheros
- Bagels and lox
- Fresh fruit
- Mimosas, Bellinis, and Bloody Marys
- … and of course lots of café!
So, where’s Madrid’s best brunch spot? What’s your favorite brunch food?
Long, historical post about Spain’s military service, coming right up!
In March of 2001, Spain’s then-Minister of Defense Federico Trillo, made a huge announcement: “Señoras y señores, se acaba la mili.” My husband, Mario, was then in his first year of university, studying translation and interpretation—he hadn’t had to do the formerly obligatory military service, nor had his brother. As for me, Spain was the last thing on my mind: I was in eighth grade and planning on taking Japanese, not Spanish!
But for over 200 years, Spain’s young men were expected to their duty and spend just over a year in the military, ever since King Carlos III introduced conscription in 1770 (the idea came before him, however). He issued an order in which one in five young men of military age would be conscripted. These names would be drawn from a list, a census, of young men.
And so it was for a long time. Although my husband and his brother were not affected, my father-in-law did indeed serve. I decided to interview him. When I sent him a list of a few brief questions, he replied with a four-page document. (He is nothing if not diligent and studious!) I will include his answers in Spanish, which I will then translate for my non-Spanish-speaking readers, of which I have a few.
¿Con qué edad tenías que alistarte? How old were you when you had to sign up [for the military]?
Whatsapp, I mean, what’s up? What’s up is that Spaniards don’t text anymore!
Okay, they send messages of text, but they don’t use SMS (Short Message Service) technology, which relies upon standardized communications protocols to send messages between cell phones. In the U.S., we do a lot of texting and the majority of use SMS or, if you have an iPhone, iMessage. But in Spain, where sending SMS messages is expensive, people have looked for other options. One of the most-popular choices is Whatsapp, which was founded in 2009 by two former employees of Yahoo!. In October 2011, there were approximately one billion messages sent per day via Whatsapp. Now? Over ten billion as of August 2012. In August 2013, there were more than 300 million active users of the service.
As you can see, Whatsapp has 99% reach in Spain and only 9% in the U.S. So when newbies come to Spain, they usually have to be introduced to the ever-growing phenomenon.
When I first started spending time regularly with Spaniards, I was always a bit nervous about the whole “kissing” thing. I find hellos and goodbyes to be rather awkward, and this idea of formalized greetings scared me. Not anymore. Later on, I’ll explain to you why I actually prefer the Spanish method of greeting friends and family.
I’ve been thinking about this topic lately, since my Spanish in-laws will be learning the American way of doing things veryyyy soon!
When you meet someone in Spain, do you …
- a) Shake hands
- b) Give them two cheek kisses
- c) Give them three cheek kisses
- d) Hug them
- e) All of the above
I have a part of Spain, you see. It’s mine, and you can’t take it from me. It’s the part of Spain I find myself thinking of longingly when I am not there, the little city nestled between Castilla y León and Portugal, astride the storied Duoro River, filled to the brim with Romanesque treasures and kind people.
Of course, if you don’t already know, I write of Zamora.