Monday, March 16, 2009

Más y más

Friday, 03/13/09
Friday the 13th: Not recognized in Spain sorry. For the Spaniards it's all about Tuesday the 13th. Here they say, "Nunca casarse ni embarcarse martes el 13" - Never get married or embark (on a cruise or voyage) on Tuesday the 13th. So now you know! However I learned they do share the other superstitions like crossing a black cat, walking under a ladder, etc.
Along the same lines of superstition saying the word "snake" (serpiente) brings years of bad luck. I learned that in the south of Spain they say "la bicha" instead of serpiente in order to avoid the bad luck. For Harry Potter fans it's probably similar to saying, "He who must not be named" instead of Voldemort.
I met with my conversation buddy here in Spain. His name is Fran and we're going to meet once or twice a week to practice Spanish (for me) and English (for him). He is a mechanical engineering student in his final year. He studied English in Chicago for 3 months at the Institute of Technology there. We discussed many of the cultural differences between here and the US and one that he found really interesting how drivers/pedestrians treat the crosswalk. His first week in Chicago he was trying to cross a side-street in the crosswalk and he was more or less ran over by an oncoming car. Here in Spain (or Oviedo at the very least), the cars will stop no matter what. I think crosswalks are a bit more sacred here. So he told me he was surprised that the cars aren't obligated to yield to pedestrians. I told him technically they're supposed to but either way you're supposed to make sure the driver waves you on first. It was entertaining though because we decided to walk into town, and at every crosswalk I slowed up a bit and looked at the traffic whereas Fran just began crossing with no concern. He told me not to worry but I told him it's a hard habit to break because I'd rather not be run over like he was :). I'll have to check but I'm pretty sure here crosswalks are called cruces de cebra (literally Zebra crossings). The official name is cruce peatonal (pedestrian crossing).
He's also part of a "mountain group" that goes out on weekends climbing mountains, being outdoor-sy and all that. He invited me to come along with him so I'll probably be going next weekend. It's a good way to see the smaller towns around Oviedo and also to meet many Spanish students.

Some other foods I've had/tried recently:
Frejoles (spelling may be a bit off). It's a dish they make with giant green beans basically and some type of meat that they pull into small pieces. It's really good and I highly recommend!
Also: Bizcocho. It's a type of sweet bread they make that is known as bread "twice baked". I tried some that had the taste of lemon bread with cinammon. Also very good.
Tortilla is very typical too. It's potatoes and cheese and eggs (I think) baked together to make a sort of pie you can cut into slices. Not to be confused with the tortilla we know from Central america that is ground-up corn with flour. This is much better!
Also typical is Fabadas. They're basically lima beans but a bit bigger. I haven't tried it yet.
Also Bocadillos and Churros. These are typical all over Spain though. A bocadillo is basically a sandwich made on the typical long bread you would buy at a panaderia (bakery). Then you add meat, cheese, and lettuce/tomato if you want. It's different than a sandwich in that it's not square and condiments are not involved.
Churros is essentially fried bread sticks coated in sugar. It's often served with the Spanish version of hot chocolate. In this case it is called Chocolate con churros. This is typically a dessert.
Also another culture note: If you order food and it comes in a bowl with some type of broth, it is not automatically considered a soup. My conversation partner Fran found it comical that in America we can put anything in a bowl and call it soup. Here if it looks like a soup, it may be by American standards but it is not by any means called a soup! For example Frejoles comes as a "soup" more or less (not a lot of broth) but is not a soup by Spanish standards.
Also unique: Entremesas (spelling may be off). Basically during sobre mesa (the time you spend at the dinner table with your family) there is always a dish in the center of the table that has slices of meat, chorizo (a Spanish type of sausage) and slices of cheese. So while you are waiting for dinner to be prepared you can snack on these while conversing with the familiy. It's perfect if you are extra hungry one day--you can take the edge off while waiting for the main course.
So throw all of those in with Sidra, Spanish wines and Torrija and you'll have a pretty good feel (or taste, in this case) of how Asturians eat. Oh and also a lot of bread. all the time. Although I think this is pretty typical of Spain/ a lot of Europe. Bread with every meal.


  1. I think the crosswalk thing must be regional or local, because in Valencia they about ran me down in the cross walks. You had to cross with a certain light (I think it was flashing yellow), or else they would not even slow down. Mom

  2. I hope you are getting recipes so you can prepare a Spanish feast for us sometime, Matt! Complete with Sidra and the pouring technique that we expect you have perfected by the time you come home! Am wondering what type of spices are used too.
    Will be cool for you to get out of the town and experience Spanish nature!
    Maybe the crosswalk thing has to do with it being a university area? I recall I got very used to just walking into the street around UVA when I was in school, and had to re-train myself when I wasn't there. Marcy