Moving to Spain has taught me a lot. It’s made me fluent in Spanish. I’ve learned how to navigate the metro system and bureaucracy. I’ve learned how to make foods I miss: crackers and peanut butter and Ranch dip. (Though I still long for bottled Ranch dressing and cottage cheese.) But more importantly, I’ve become a more-independent, self-assured person. I found my media naranja. I came to terms with just how important my home country is to me.
A lot of us experienced changes when we moved here. You feel me, auxiliares (and former auxiliares)? We learned just how little we knew about English grammar and Spanish slang. But we’ve also learned to love new foods. Thus, I asked some of you what foods you’ve learned to love since moving to Spain. Your answers were fun to read, and I’m listing them here.
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:
A Zamoran, invading
Madrid’s Teatro Real Restaurant was the perfect place for Mario and me to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Elegant, glamorous, and ethereally silent, this restaurant is located on the second floor of the royal theater and is itself decidedly royal.
The Teatro Real, or Royal Theater, was originally built in 1850 in front of the royal palace. It served as the city’s opera house and housed the Madrid Royal Conservatory until 1925. There were several periods of reconstruction, but the theater opened for good again 1997. It hosts opera, concerts, and ballet and is home to the Madrid Symphony Orchestra and Choir. Its many halls are decorated with works of art from the Prado and Reina Sofia museums.
The Salón Naranja is decorated with the portraits of Juan Carlos and Sofía
Guys, I’m pretty obsessed with Spanish cuisine. Nothing gets my goat more than when guiris come here and declare the food to be bland. Oh no you didn’t, I want to shout at them while doing a dramatic z with my pointer finger. Insulting Spanish food is like insulting my suegra: I’m having none of it.
There are so many delicious things here, and they are not all terrible for you (another stupid myth!):
- cocido (healthy if you stay away from the tocino, a.k.a. fat)
And of course my favorites: cheese, wine (remind me to tell you my favorite wines from Toro later!), chorizo, and salchichón! My in-laws make the last two, and if you haven’t had them … well, you haven’t had good chorizo or salchichón! It’s just the facts.
Buuuuut, let’s be real, there are some foods I don’t like. Yeah. It’s true. It’s true, and I said it. Not all Spanish food is to my liking. What are these foods, you ask? Why, let me tell you.
- Pulpo. Nope, I don’t like octopus and don’t tell me that I should, because the chewy texture just skeeves me out.
- Morro, oreja, callos. Not into organ meat, and I’m even less into eating pig’s snout. Oreja is really chewy and just thinking about it can give me the heebie jeebies. (I hope all Spaniards reading this are learning some new “words” today.)
- Torreznos. What are they? They’re pieces of pig fat cut into strips and fried. Yum? Add to this varied fritanga, because it is way too fatty for my liking. Eating probably takes five days off my life.
- Flan. Not into that jiggling mess of a dessert.
- Aceitadas. Sadly, this is a typical dessert in Zamora, my favorite city in Spain, but I just don’t dig anise.
- Aguardiente. Not a food, but this liquor sets my insides on fire and tastes vile.
Which foods do you dislike in Spain? And if you say salchichón, I may cry. Tears of happiness. Because there’s more for me!