Monday, August 31, 2009
First and foremost I would like to apologize for any grammatical errors in these blog posts, I write them pretty quickly and on top of that I haven't been speaking very much English lately.
Friday after la comida we took a siesta and then drove to Peñiscola, 3 hours north of Murcia. Peñiscola is a small town in Valencia on the border of Catalonia, fairly close to Barcelona. It was built in the 13th century by the Knights Templar(I guess that Crusades class finally paid off) and was also the home of Pope Benedict XIII. The famous movie El Cid, which I also watched in my Crusades class, was also filmed in the fortress of Peñiscola. When we got there Pascual and Jesus (Roberto's Uncles more or less) were watching a football (soccer) game on television out on the terrace. The terrace had a great view of the entire pueblo, the old fortress, and the sea! Jesus told us that if Barcelona didn't win the game then we would not be getting any dinner that night. He was joking of course but that is how seriously soccer is taken around here. For dinner we had some type of fish, I can't remember the name, the only thing I remember is that it still had it's head intact. It's eyes were staring back at me and it's mouth was wide open while I tried to pick the meat off of it's bones...I was doing a pretty good job until I accidently jabbed something with my knife that caused blood to spill out across the fish's body and that is when I gave up and just ate my vegetables. In the morning we took a tour of the old fortress and then walked around the old part of the town. We stopped to have an horchata, a sweet milky drink very typical of Valencia, and then walked around the park before lunch.
Roberto's family in Peñiscola has a very strong Valencian accent and they typically speak Valencian at home. Valencian is similar to Spanish and French and in the schools in Valencia they teach half the time in Valencian and the other half in Castellano (Spanish).
For lunch we went back to his family's house and we had more seafood. I enjoy almost all kinds of foods and I am normally very willing to try new things; I am only wary when it comes to eating creatures that look as though the could still be alive. I like fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, mussels, oysters etc...I just don't enjoy removing their heads, bodies, and tentacles! I ate almost everything put in front of me this weekend EVEN the live oysters, their tentacles were still moving in their shells. I didn't like it, it was probably more psychological than anything, but at least I tried. The best thing we had was the arroz caldoso marinero! It was served in a giant pan at a restaurant with lobster and rice.
We spent very little time at the beach due to the cloudy weather but the beach was beautiful. We also went to a couple little bars on Saturday night, one was up high on a terrace overlooking the beach and the other was hidden down by the rocks. You were so close to the water and you could watch the water crash against the rocks at your table; it was very peaceful!
All in all we had a wonderful time! His family that we stayed with was amazing and super kind and welcoming. I only met one member of his family that drove me crazy. He was constantly talking about the United States and about how Spanish food is better, the Spanish lifestyle is better, the Spanish language is richer etc. I think Roberto could tell I was getting mad at the dinner table when his Uncle was prattling on about how superior Spain is to the United States. When someone talks that way about your country it is very offensive. He spent 9 days in New York and felt that he had the right to say that American meat doesn't have as good of a texture and Spanish meat and that our wine is terrible. I admit that the U.S. has it's MANY faults, but so so does Spain, and every other country in the world for that matter. He had no idea what he was talking about but I couldn't be rude and make a scene in front of Roberto's family so I simply bit my tongue and decided that his ignorance wasn't worth it. Now I am going to go get a cup of coffee and work on wrapping some of the bottles of olive oil that Gema (Roberto's sister) is going to pass out as wedding favors.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I arrived in Madrid the 22nd and everything has been going smoothly since then. Roberto picked me up at the airport and we went to take la siesta and then ate lunch in Madrid. The streets of Madrid are completely empty during the day in the summer because of the heat. It is surprising to see such a big city with so little people. At night things change; people are singing on the corner and everyone finally leaves the house because the weather is semi-bearable. I imagine that is why the siesta exists, because the days are too hot and the only thing you can do with a smile is sleep. People generally stay awake a lot later, midnight is early and 2 am is getting to bed at a decent hour.
I have been at Roberto’s house this whole week and I feel like all I have been doing is eating! I have helped his Mom in the kitchen a bit, but I feel like I do everything differently and she is constantly telling me, “ Ay noo! Así Así!” For example, I see the green part of the lettuce as the best part while always she insists that I throw it away and we only eat the iceberg lettuce.
-Stuffed Chicken (stuffed with cheese, cured ham, and regular ham)
- Potaje (chard, garbanzo beans, pumpkin, potato, onion, garlic, and tomato stew)
-Salad (always with raw tuna mixed in)
-Macarrones/Pasta (Typical spaghetti type dish but you can’t forget the raw tuna mixed in again)
-Tortilla/Omelet (We have had this with potatoes and onions and then also with garlic buds and mushrooms)
-Ensaladilla rusa (simply tuna salad with potatoes)
His Mom also makes great milk (similar to horchata) flavored with cinnamon, lemon, and a bit of sugar!
Roberto has to work during the day so I am on my own with his family. His brother is a firefighter in Murcia and his sister works at a jewelry store and lately has been entirely concentrated on planning her wedding, which is September 26th. For the wedding they are going to have a capea, or an amateur bullfight, very cliché and also a tad on the dangerous side. When they described it to me they told me that people drink all day and then go into the bull fighting ring to fight with a baby bull (the baby still weighs 200 or more pounds and I refuse to participate, although I will be on the sidelines with my camera).
Every morning I wake up around 7 with Roberto and eat breakfast. We have what his friends describe as a good Mediterranean breakfast, toast with grated tomatoes and olive oil. Roberto also makes me freshly squeezed orange juice! I then go back to bed and sleep until 9. When I wake up I help his Mom in the kitchen and bit and then I go with Roberto’s Dad to drop her off at work. His Mom sells “Thermomix machines”, a cooking machine that seems to be pretty popular throughout Europe. She is a wonderful cook and knows how to make EVERYTHING!
Today I am going to the mall with Roberto’s cousin who is visiting from Peñiscola, Juani. Tonight Roberto and I are going to Peñiscola to stay with his family there. I hear it is beautiful and I can’t wait to go to the beach! I miss my own family a lot! Sorry it took me so long to write this first blog, I have been busy practicing the siesta (I just want to fit in!) I’ll write again soon!