What is it about living or working in Spain that piques so many people’s curiosity? Is it the fact that it’s European (and therefore cosmopolitan)? Is it the fact that so many of us have studied Spanish in high school? Is it the fact that it’s so far from home?
I’m not sure, but I can tell you one thing: people have questions about it! Some questions can annoy me, but most of the time I love getting questions about my life in Spain!
1. What language do you two speak when you’re together? I love this question because I, too, am often genuinely curious about this when I meet another bilingual couple. Being in a relationship with and later marrying a Spaniard means that my life is now completely in Spanish and in English. Mario speaks perfect English, and my Spanish is pretty damn near fluent, so we speak both.
Why? I don’t really know. We started off that way, and we’ve just continued along that path. I often switch mid-sentence, though Mario tends to wait until the end of a sentence or thought to switch. If I’m speaking in Spanish but need to reference I food I made here, I’ll often say the words in English. I also must refer to the good ham as jamón, and of course salchichón is always salchichón.
2. Where do you live? We live in Madrid! Even though every part of the country is experiencing the recession’s negative consequences, there is more happening in Madrid. Mario was able to get hired during one of the worst parts of the recession—early 2012.
3. Why don’t you have a car in Madrid? Because we’re hippy, car-hating, radical vegans. (Sorry, vegans! Don’t take offense. I love vegans. And vegan food.)
No, really, the answer is: we don’t care to, for multiple reasons.
- I don’t have a license. It’s expensive and time consuming to get a license, and seeing as we may not be in Madrid for the long term, it just makes sense.
- We may not be in Madrid for the long term.
- It’s expensive! Everything about the process is: the cost of the car is higher (even secondhand cars are more expensive), the insurance, the gas …
All in all, we say, “No thank you!” to owning a car in Madrid.
4. What are you in-laws and husband’s family like? Superawesomeamazinggreatwonderfulthebomb. That’s totally just one word.
In all seriousness, they treat me like their daughter. You know you’re in when they start worrying about you and packing you sandwiches and calling you hija on the phone.
5. What’s the food like? Can I just say amazing? One thing I hate is when guiris come to Spain and leave saying the food is just mediocre. I just want to grab them by their shoulders and shake—hard!—because excuse me? Just where have you been eating? At the greasy little bar that serves cold slices of tortilla made the week before?
I have eaten some of the best meals of my life in Spain. Wedding meals have been quite memorable too, but there is generally an overabundance of food at these events, thus dulling the memory. But the food I’ve eaten at Mario’s mother’s table, or his aunts’, or even his cousins’ has been nothing less than stellar. There have been battered, crunchy croquettes filled with delicate bites of tuna, tortillas toasted on the outside but gooey and warm on the inside, meat filets cooked to perfection on the kitchen stove, suckling lamb, briny Campo Real olives, the lovely combination of homemade quince jam with the buttery sheep’s milk Zamoran cheese … I could go on and on, but I’m just making myself hungrier.