Who doesn’t love a good list of links? I know I always click on those sorts of posts. It must be in our nature, because it’s practically irresistible. Thus I’d like to start a weekly (or, okay, regular at least) list of some of my favorite links around the web, including blogs, newspapers, and anything random I can scrounge up. These links may not necessarily have to do with Spain, but I’m sure many of them will.
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.
… 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).
… 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:
What would you add to this list?
I’m not the world’s most prolific blogger. Why?
- I don’t really care about SEO. I know, it’d help me. But as of now, my blog isn’t business, nor do I plan on making into one, so I see no real point. Try to convince me otherwise in the comments section!
- I don’t buy into the whole “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” blogging circle. If you like what I write, share it (if you so desire). If you don’t, let me know by commenting or emailing me. If I like yours, I’ll do the same. I don’t want to get into any debates, but the idea of sharing someone’s work just so they’ll share mine is not something I want to get into.
- I’m not interested in publishing your guest posts, the kind which you email me about with links to previous posts on other sites. These people email me, and then when I don’t reply, they email me again. Take a hint much?!
- I fail at responding to all my emails. I am really grateful to those people who email me, but I’ve not been the best blogger lately. I have had several people email me, and as it’s not my full-time job, I put it aside for a later date, which sometimes doesn’t seem to come about so often. I’m sorry about that. I want to be better in the future.
I’ve had a short break during which I went private, brought on my insecurity about the future of this blog. Funnily enough, life in Spain is just life. (I know: I’ve said this before, a million times.) I don’t always have that much to say. The only thing I can say is that I will talk about this life without sugarcoating it, because I’m not Mrs. Bright and Sunny. There are so many things that are good about my life in Spain. For instance:
- My students. They are all wonderful, even the troublesome ones. There is T, who can’t talk without yelling; M, a tall soccer player with great English and an amazing laugh; P, whose English at 11 years old astounds me; C, who’s studying both German and English; and E, who isn’t that good at English but always has a shy smile for me.
- Being close to Mario. I can’t tell you how grateful I feel for him and the fact that I get to live with him now. Being in a long-distance relationship is tough, but I think being in a long-distance, bicultural one is even more so. Before any permanent state of togetherness is achieved (be it by marriage or pareja de hecho), there is doubt … doubt that it’ll ever work out, doubt that the bureaucracy will work in your favor, doubt that you can ever wait so long. But we overcame that period; we’re together now; we’re in this for the long haul.
- The opportunity to live in another country. I think we can all agree that this isn’t something that everyone gets to experience, and I am so grateful for it.
- Meeting other expats like me. I didn’t meet that many people in Zamora like me, but here in Spain I’m part of great groups that allow me to meet new people in so many places: game nights, drinks, pumpkin carving, etc. I’ve already met some great people, but there are always more to meet!
But then there’s the tough parts too: missing family, being sick far away from home with a system you don’t understand, the constant lluvia that has been the theme of this past week (which sucks even more when you have to walk two miles to work in it!), the lack of convenient transportation at times, and I could go on. But, although it’s my tendency, I’m focusing on the good.
There is always bad with the good. There just is. Yet I believe I can be the kind of person (and blogger!) who sees both and chooses to focus on the latter.
If you were honest about life as an expat and/or traveler, what would you tell your readers?
When I first came to Spain, I didn’t have a kitchen. I didn’t have a refrigerator. I lived in a renovated convent in the midst of Toledo’s casco antiguo.
Then, in Salamanca, I had a small kitchen. Quite adequate, actually. At least I had an oven, which isn’t always the case, I’ve learned. I have always loved baking, so I started baking for Mario, who will never say no to a galleta, chocolate-chip or otherwise. The only problem? I had no measuring cups. Measuring cups are another one of the US’s particularities. Most of the world cooks and—especially—bakes in grams. It makes sense. A cup of all-purpose flour doesn’t weigh the same as a cup of another type of flour. Using grams is more precise.
That didn’t help me, though. I had to use Google to convert all my cups of flour to grams, often dragging my laptop into the kitchen and using flour-stained fingers to type “1 cup of flour to grams” into the search bar. Annoying. There had to be a better way.
I’ve found that following Spanish-language cooking blogs is the way forward. Not only do they use grams and milliliters, they also don’t call for ingredients that are difficult, if not impossible, to find in places like Zamora. (In Madrid, it’s not impossible to find anything.) Moreover, it was a way for me to explore new dishes, ingredients, and flavors. A win-win!
Thus, I’d like to present to you all, some of whom I hope speak Spanish, my favorite cooking blogs written by Spaniards. I hope that you find them as interesting and worthwhile as I do.
El Comidista. El Comidista is written by Mikel López Iturriaga, who started his blog, Ondakín, and was later picked by up El País, one of Spain’s national newspapers. Mikel doesn’t just share delicious, in-season recipes; he also talks about all things related to gastronomy: restaurants, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, culinary pop culture, etc. It’s always an entertaining read. Check it out:
- Crema de castañas con setas
- Revuleto de trastos: especial Navidad
- Iceberg flotante en sopa de críticos
- Carajillo en el siglo XXI
Javi Recetas. Behind Javi Recetas is José Javier Cabanas, a firefighter and student. Javi always proposes accessible recipes as well as useful information, like how to desalinate salt cod. I like his basic recipes especially.
Recetas de Mon. Recetas de Mon is run by Mónica, born in Barcelona.
- Jamones Cinco Jotas (5J)
- Pastel de carne a la irlandesa <— Made this!
- Tartaletas de queso de cabra con cebolla caramelizada y nuez <—I’ve based several other tartaletas on this recipe, including one with dulce de membrillo and cream cheese.
Cocinando entre Olivos. Erik pointed this site out to me (and to his other readers, of course). The only problem I have with it is the lack of recipe summaries, so to speak.
- Patatas con bechamel y atún <—I’ve made this twice!
- Chupa chups crujientes de pavo y queso
- Tarta de espinacas y bacalao
Biscayenne: para golosos irredentos. Since I have one major goloso (person with a sweet tooth) at home, I love the name of the site. I’m not very familiar with Spanish desserts, but I’m learning. Step by step. This site is a great way to learn about the very traditional desserts like flan and, like Emeril, to take them up a notch or two.
- Plum cake corriente y moliente
- Charlota de manzana Downton Abbey <—Spaniards also watch and love Downton Abbey
- Pannacotta de limón y menta
A Freír Pimientos. There’s an expression in Spanish: “¡Vete a freír esparragos!” (Literally, “Go away and fry asparagus!” It means, basically, get the hell out of my sight. So I can’t help but think of that when I read this website’s title, which means (in my loose translation)
No Más Tuppers de Mamá. This blog is run by three guys in their 20s, and it all looks finger-lickin’ good. Their recipes are both simple and elaborate, delicious and simple. Also, they come with recommended playlists, if you’re into that sort of thing. The three guys—Carlos, Marc, and Adrià—met in Manchester during their Erasmus semester abroad. If you don’t enjoy cooking, follow their blog at your own risk—you may be tempted to start.
Rewind this soup <—Made this delicious soup with homemade chicken stock. A definite recommend!
So there you go, the Spanish-cooking blogs I follow. What about you, any recommendations?
You all already know I’m not the starry-eyed Spain enthusiast that some bloggers are. I do like Spain, of course—I just take it in moderation. Some days enough gets to be enough. So I thought I’d confess a few things that you might not have surmised from my posts. It’s okay to be honest—really, we’re better off for it!
Okay, Kaley, less “Blah, blah, blah” and more fun!
- I don’t try everything. I don’t care how good you insist it is, I don’t want to try morro (snout) or criadilla (bull testicle) or oreja (ear). I’ve tried orejas already and never again!). If this makes me unadventurous, sue me.
- I hate dubbing. I refuse to watch TV shows dubbed. In any language. Please, try to tell me that The Big Bang Theory is just as funny in Spanish. No. Just no. So yeah, this means I watch a lot of TV in English, which is bad for my Spanish learning. But I really don’t like Spanish TV or movies. Neither does Mario.
- I’m still patriotic. No, I’m not blindly patriotic. I understand the US has its flaws and is not God’s chosen country, but I still love my country and miss so many things about it—barbecues, the openness, the informality, the ease with which I navigated any and all social situations … en fin, so much!
- I don’t idealize the Spanish lifestyle. Sure, Spain is known for relaxation, sun, and siestas. But the truth is, many Spaniards work endless days and get little to no rest. Nowadays the unemployment rate is sky high. I think that Spaniards definitely get it right with regards to enjoying food/drink, eating healthily, and walking, but they’re not perfect. They’re not inherently less lazy than Americans. They’re human—just like us.
Spain + America = Success
- I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. Sometimes (most of the time), I love blogging. I love the relationships it has created, the opportunities it has given me, the wonderful feedback I get from it. At others, I feel intimidated by other bloggers, worried that no one likes me, afraid that what I say will cause someone somewhere to become angry with me. I’m often envious of other bloggers’ success because I wish that I could achieve that same level of success without compromising any of my principles.
So, what about you—anything to confess? C’mon, spill it.
In 2012, life changed. Life changed fast. I could say it all to you, in one breath, a rush of words and emotion that would leave you reeling. I could replay the year over in my head, wondering how I got to this point, this place right here—November 22, 2012.
In 2012 I did so many things. So many things changed in my life, in my family’s lives, in my friend’s lives. These things, there were good. They were wonderful and magical and joyful. So, dear 2012,now it’s my turn. Thank you. Thank you for:
- July 7. On this day, I married Mario. I don’t have words for this day. It was a day full of sunshine and laughter and red scarves and dancing. It was rich with tears and photographs and the grasping of hands. I wore a white dress; he wore a suit. We joined hands, and we said yes.
- New family. I’ve gained some new family this year: in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles. I’m no longer the American; I’m prima or hija. I’m part of this family here in Spain, a grand family who has taken me in without a second thought, who has taught me to cook, lavished me with presents and love and welcome. I couldn’t be more grateful for my mother-in-law, Pepita, who worries about me as if I were her daughter or my father-in-law, Jesús, who emails me to wish me a happy Thanksgiving in his newly acquired English. I am so grateful to them and for them.
- Old family. One is silver, but the other’s gold? I don’t really buy this saying, but I am aware that my family has always been there for me, ever since the rainy Monday almost twenty-six years ago. My family has supported me through my on-again, off-again relationship with Spain, and I don’t think I could have done it without them. They love Mario like their own son, and they would do anything for us and for my brother and his wife. You couldn’t ask for more dedicated parents, the kind that go to every single sports event in high school, the kind that never say a word about driving six hours there and back to pick you up at the airport, the kind that pay for a brother and future-sister-in-law’s plane tickets just so that they can all be together on the most important day of the bride’s life.
- Thanksgivings past. My extended family was never one to fight. Our holidays were filled with food, laughter, and kids’ tables. There was no yelling, no hurt feelings, no real problems. As a girl, I took this for granted. Now I couldn’t be more grateful for an extended family that knows the value of togetherness.
- New friends. I’ve met some new people here in Madrid recently, and I’m really excited to see where these friendships lead. You cannot underestimate the value of a nearby friend.
- Old friends. Where would I be without my constant source of encouragement and laughter, Hilary? Roommates in college, friends for life. I cannot say enough about my cousin Bailey, just seven months older than me and already on her way to having her second child. It’s hard to reconcile what was with what is, but our friendships will never shrivel and die, just change and grow as we do.
- This blog. This blog has been a source of encouragement for me over the past few years. I started it without knowing what would come of it, and I am ever so grateful for the readers who comment, email, tweet, or Facebook me. Thank you, readers! Thanks for reading, for caring, for helping me see things in a new light. Without you, I know I wouldn’t keep writing. Thank you.
So happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! If you’re in the States, please eat some stuffing for me! And—oh yeah—give your mom and dad a hug! They’re the only ones you’ve got.
I get envious sometimes. Don’t we all? I think of Lena* and her beautiful family, Sara* and her running skills, Jessica* and the book she wrote, Ellen* and her blog … you get the picture. But since I’m a blogger, I used to get jealous of others’ blogs and their respective audiences, thinking they were better than me or more popular than me or more likable than me. I know blogging in the Internet and therefore not the “real world,” but it’s only natural to want to be liked, even if we’re only talking about the Internet, right?
*I made up all these names. Shhhhh.
I started this blog as a way of keeping up with my family. At first, I updated very infrequently; my blog didn’t have a voice—it was more like a mass email anyway. But as I start finding more and more expat blogs, more Spain blogs, more blogs in general, I began to think about my audience and what they might like to read. I tried to develop a voice. I was in a perfect place to write humorous things about Spain—very cynical, actually, because I was having an immensely difficult time in Spain that year, 2010–2011, even if I only came off as angry. (See: How to Dress like a Spaniard, 15 Rules to Thrive in Spain, Not as Exciting as You Might Think.)
Not-so-angry at a wedding in 2010.
Nowadays, I feel sort of popular at times. I get sweet emails from readers, which I love. I get to interact with a lot of fun people on Twitter. But there are way more popular people, people with prolific readerships, people who seem to get a million comments a day. I think sometimes, How can I be like that? And then I realize …
I’m never going to be like that. I do self-promote, but I’m not a self-promoter. I do try to get more readers, but I don’t think too much about things like SEO, or advertisements, or how to strategically comment on popular blogs so as to garner more readers. I doubt I’ll become an editor at a travel magazine or website; I just can’t see it. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with such things, not at all. Rather, it’s just not me. I’m okay with that. I’m Kaley from Y Mucho Más, and I really believe there are plenty of readers who appreciate that. I don’t need to change. Neither do you, if you don’t want to.
We should all just stay like this. Forever.
Do you ever experience blog envy? How would you like your blog to change (or not change) in the future?