Weekend Trip and New Foods

One weekend, I traveled to Bell Munt with my host family. Bell Munt, sounding awfully similar to Bay Moon when spoken quickly in Catalan, is an extremely small town of around 200 people, consisting of around 30 families. I had the opportunity to meet the entire side of my host mom’s family and they were extremely welcoming. We drove around and I learned about the Spanish Civil War in 1936. It was difficult to imagine the beautiful town with characteristic spanish buildings and rolling green hills as a war zone. I studied more about this and learned that after they lost this civil war, their Catalan culture was extremely oppressed. There will be more information about this in my history post. Stay tuned.

I’ve started teaching english conversation classes at a local bakery. While they are not formal classes, I do still need to prepare my lessons.  Though most are not sure exactly where TN is in the US, they certainly know the state. In case you’re wondering about TN’s stereotype in Europe, it is: full of cowboys, the home state of Elvis, and it is the proud owner of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Therefore, what better way to start my first class than with some fun facts about my home state. You should have seen their reaction when I showed them an advertisement for Dolly’s one and only Dixie Stampede. Racing ostriches, eating without utensils, and climbing large logs as fast as you can seemed very far off. Since then, I’ve taught classes on differences in food and holiday traditions.

Within the first few weeks, I had noticed certain customs concerning food. While out to eat I never know exactly what I’m ordering, especially if the menu is in Catalan, so I just make an educational guess and hope for the best. I’ve found some of the best food this way and there hasn’t been much I haven’t liked (but who am I kidding, I’m the least picky person in the world). Tapas are very common here and often, a large group will go out to eat, order tons o’ tapas, then dig right in. Patatas bravas can be described as wedge fries with a spicy mayonnaise type sauce. There’s also green peppers boiled in oil with salt, which are delicious. Today, I had a pretzel coated in white chocolate with coconut. I’m hoping to put some recipes up here soon but these will be Faith-level recipes, i.e. soups and simple things.

Back to food. Don’t attempt to drink coffee black. In the US, I like to think that I am hard core for drinking my coffee black, but in reality I am weak. Our black coffee from the US is simply watered down and may have some extra flavoring to it, like vanilla. In Catalonia however, the plain coffee is served in a teacup meant for Barbie sized people and is stronger than anything you’ve ever tasted. So, as most everyone does here, I order cafe con leche. It is half concentrated coffee and half frothy whole milk (notice, not cream) with a packet of sugar (VERY necessary). So, not the healthiest thing in the world but it is definitely fantastic.

Other lists of foods I have enjoyed: white rice, tomato sauce, with a fried egg on top. Bread, olive oil, and tomato. All sorts of vegetables soups! Basically just cut up a bunch of vegetables and boil them. Omelets cooked with potato wedges (very popular). Croquetas (a fried doughy type round thing filled with porky creamy stuff, tastes much better than I made it sound). After cooking a pizza in the oven for a few minutes, crack an egg on top and let it seep into the pizza slightly. SO GOOD. Let’s not forget the incredible amount of pastries they have here, usually a variation of a croissant.

The pastries here are WONDERFUL. Desserts aren’t extremely popular here but if you’re craving something sweet after a meal, you can go to one of the many bakeries around. You can buy one croissant with chocolate or any other filling that your little heart desires: esponjas, which are fried dough that taste like homemade donuts, eclairs with coffee cream and much more.

Breakfast is when you wake up, lunch (their dinner, the largest meal of the day) starts around 2pm, and supper is around 9pm.  It is extremely normal to eat about 2 or so hours before you go to bed. When I went to talk about my experiences in Europe and my life in the US to a group of 10th grade girls, I mentioned that we usually ate dinner around 6 or 7pm. One girl’s eyes widened and she stared at me in disbelief. She then asked if since we ate dinner at 6, do we all go to bed at 7pm? It’s as if we should be starving by the time we wake up because we wait 5 hours after we eat before we go to bed. Eh, it’s what you’re used to I guess.

Faith Lindsay is currently participating in the CE Au Pair in Spain program.

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