olive oil

Foods Spain Taught Me to Love

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.

Cat from Sunshine and Siestas: Snails

Eating Snails Spain Jerez

“So. Snails.

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Giveaway Winner Announced

Thanks to all who entered last week’s giveaway! I really enjoyed reading the comments and hearing when people started to read my blog. I wanted to pick you all as winners!

I decided to use RANDOM.ORG to pick my winner. I plugged all your names into a spreadsheet (multiple times, if you like[d] me on Facebook or follow[ed] me on Twitter). Then I generated a random number, which just so happened to be 16.

Random Number Generator

And #16 on my spreadsheet was none other than …

GeeCassandra

CASSANDRA from Gee, Cassandra!

Congratulations! I hope you (or your friends/family, since I know you’re in Spain) enjoy the gift card. I will be in touch with you via email to arrange the details.

Thanks to all who entered, and don’t forget to like Y Mucho Más on Facebook!

What’s Cheaper in Spain

Starting a new life in another country requires time and money. (But having a wedding means people give you presents, so that helps.) We have to acquire—in one way or another—all the necessities: appliances, kitchen equipment, linens, and on and on. Things can add up. And quickly.

A lot of things seem to be more expensive in Spain: makeup, toiletries, electronics, cell phone rates, books, cars. It can seem overwhelming when you’re trying to furnish a new apartment!

Luckily, not everything is expensive in Spain, especially if you can find some cheap flights! Here’s what I’ve found to be cheaper

  • Fruits and vegetables, but you have to know where to buy them. (Hint: It’s not Carrefour.)
  • Alcohol, but wine in particular. I can find one of my favorites, Elias Mora, for around €6.
  • Olive oil. I don’t get it, because we make olive oil here (in California, for example), but it’s not cheap. I’ll be honest and admit that my favorite olive oil is Carrefour-brand Arbequina.

  • Traveling to other countries, which—duh!—is due to shorter distances, but still. It’s cheaper!
  • Climate control. Okay, this is a cop out, because the reason it’s cheaper is because of a lack of a) heating in the south, or b) air conditioning in the northern regions. I have heard there are apartments in Madrid with some air conditioning, though. My environmentalist friend Kristin would remind me of all the good this is doing for the environment, however, and thus I try not to complain.
  • Eating out, but only if we’re talking about tapas-style eating out. There aren’t nearly as many chain restaurants or fast-food restaurants in Spain. (Thank goodness!) Thus, you can’t go grab Chipotle for $8 any time you want. But going out for tapas is cheap, fun, and filling. The idea of tapas is getting big in the US, but I honestly don’t think it’ll ever work out. There’s no culture of tapas, and the idea of going from place to place for dinner, which we eat way too early anyway, won’t likely catch on here anytime soon.
  • University tuition, but keep in mind it’s actually paid for by your taxes (85% of it, according to Público.es). So, you may only spend between 535 and 1,280 per academic year, according to Master’s Portal. (Mario came up with this one, and he wants to clarify that the trade-off may have to do with Spanish universities not exactly being world renowned.)

In the end, I realized the one thing that’s chaper in Spain is food. Good food, that is. Thank goodness. I love food!

What do you find cheaper (and/or better quality) in Spain? What do you find more expensive?

Everyone’s Favorite Subject—FOOD!

If you’re like many people from Middle America, you might be a bit confused about what, exactly, Spanish food is. My friend asked me the other day, “Is guacamole Spanish? Or Mexican?” She was about to prepare guacamole from a packet, you see, and thought I might be offended by this. As it is, I don’t get offended by such things. I mean, the guacamole was pretty damn good. Plus, guacamole is pretty labor intensive and she was throwing a bridal shower. There are more important things to think about in such situations.

Well, friends, I’m here to help you. I will now introduce you to my favorite Spanish foods, or at least the foods that made a big impression on me during my time in Spain. Keep in mind, I was usually in Castilla and the food there is, of course, different than the food in Galicia, Basque country, or Cataluña. So, without further ado:

Iberian Ham (Jamón Ibérico)

Would you believe me if I said that many families keep a leg of ham in their homes? Would you believe that they value this pata, or leg, of ham more than a juicy steak. But it’s true. And they won’t accept that you think otherwise. This type of ham is sold by the leg in many butcher shops. In fact, in Salamanca, on a major street there is a shop for this type of meat. My brother said it smelled like leather. I tend to agree, but it tastes good. To each his/her own.

Spanish Omelet (Tortilla Española)

This is a crowd pleaser. You see, it’s not weirdjust potato, eggs, onions, salt, and olive oil. When I say olive oil, I mean LOTS of it. My mother and I attempted this, using what we considered to be an adequate amount. Mario, our resident Spanish expert, poured about, oh, half a bottle in the pan to fry the potatoes until soft. I saw our mistake then, although ours didn’t turn out so bad, really.

Bread (Pan)

Bread is the life of Spain. It is utterly common, unremarkable, to see almost every old man and woman carrying a loaf under their arm around 1 PM, carrying it home for la comida, lunch, at 2:30. (Yes, they eat late.) When you eat soup, what do you need? Why, bread of course, to sop up all the remains. When you’re eating something that tends to scurry around the plate, what helps? A piece of bread to help scoop the little rascals onto your fork. Without bread, eating is not the same, not as enjoyable, and definitely not as tasty. It is so enjoyable to enter the store and feel the bread is warm, recently taken out of the oven. Nothing better.

Aceite de Oliva (Olive Oil)
Olive Oil
In America, we have an aisle devoted to cereal, an aisle of ice cream. We do not, however, have an aisle of just olive oil. Light, dark, intense, with garlic, with lemon…you name it, you got it. There’s artisan varieties, store brand, etc. It’s astounding, really, until you realize that literally almost every dish contains it. If you’re cooking some pork, you’ll likely cook it on a pan with olive oil. (There aren’t that many grills in third floor apartments.) If you’re making soup, salad, even some desserts, what do you need? Olive oil! It’s versatile and delicious. It’s especially good with some Iberic ham and tomatoes …!

There’s more, really, but I’ll stop here for today. But here’s one final tipSpanish food is most definitely NOT spicy! That’s Mexican. They don’t generally enjoy spicy food too much.