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Hello again everyone! Thanks for coming back. So this past week was pretty tame compared to the usual. I did very little touring and new things, instead working towards hanging out with friends here in Barcelona-- including lots of beach volleyball, some soccer matches and planning for the next couple of weeks. So this week, I don't have any pictures, instead opting for some thoughts about the life, food, more food and people I have been interacting with in Spain.

Let me start with talking a little bit about food here. Barcelona is lucky because it sits in between Madrid and the classic Mediterranean coast in Italy. As such, I have found many crossover cuisine. Tapas bars are the places to be on Friday and Saturday night, which is a uniquely Spanish thing, while olives and seafood abound as well. One of the Barcelonin girls I work with has fish for lunch so often it has become a joke between us. I have not yet ventured forth to buy fish, but I have walked through several of the huge markets they have around the city. In them, the norm is to walk up to a booth displaying the recent catches on ice, eyes, scales, fins and all. The often elderly lady behind the counter (who generally wields a knife as big or bigger than herself) will prepare your order for you right there. I have not yet had the guts to approach such a stand, since I would have to flex my (as yet weak) Spanish muscle in a big way, ie. "Can you recommend one to me that someone who has never ventured outside of salmon and cod might like? And how would a person go about cooking a piece of meat like this?" At some point I would really like to get into cooking some fish, but baby steps.

I have had the chance to eat out several times, and another immensely popular dish here is paella. It is a rice dish usually cooked with an array of seafood, and served in a piping hot skillet. It is excellent. Another dish popular here is called Fideua, which is essentially paella with fine noodles substituted for the rice. These both are usually served with a thick garlic mayonnaise sauce on the side which sets off the seafood perfectly.

Tapas in Barcelona are everywhere. Common tapas include home-fried potatoes, Spanish tortillas (more on these later), sauteed peppers, small salads, cold meat platters, olive dishes, etc. Think about them as appetizers to share: each portion is smaller than a full meal, but I have gone out several times in which we got three Tapas to share between two of us and it is perfect. There is a well-regarded tapas bar just a five minute walk from my house, which I have yet to dine at, but apparently it is stupendous. On the theme of tapas, no proper outing is acceptable without a couple glasses of beer. In the US, I always feel a little conflicted when ordering a beer: is this one too classy for this establishment? Or not enough? Why did I just spend that much on a drink? In Spain, just order a beer. Here they don't ask what kind, and will bring you Estrella Damm unless directed otherwise. It is by no means artisan beer, but everyone drinks it unless they're trying to impress someone. It is also ridiculously cheap-- around 1 Euro per beer. Also, all of the supermarkets here have their own brand of beer. This is much different than in the US: can you imagine 'Price Chopper Beer' taking off? Me either. I haven't actually tried these yet, but saw a special today for 12 beers for E 4.58. Yikes I wonder what it tastes like...

I have been cooking the majority of the time for myself. I am lucky that I have a bread store, meat market, vegetable stand and supermarket all on my way home from the metro (I know, impressive for only a three-block walk). For breakfast, most people here only have a pastry and a coffee, but I would actually starve if I ate that and then had to wait 'til one for lunch. As such, I usually do a big bowl of cereal in the morning and an apple for snack midmorning. Another thought: people here don't drink milk straight. My roommate was horrified when I bought a bottle and took a swig after arriving home. I love my milk, though.

For lunch, I have been finding things to make en mass to take to work, as a good sized lunch there costs about E 7. So my cous-cous salad prowess is at a lifetime best, and I made up a stir-fry last night. I also have been trying out different fruits as dessert for lunch. They have yellow kiwis here which are slightly larger and much more sweet than their green brethren. Also, after seeing a coworker with them, I purchased a few figs one day. YOU MEAN FIGS DON'T GROW INSIDE THE NEWTONS??? For those like me who don't know, figs are smallish fruits shaped like a water droplet, with tough skin and a pulpy, seedy, squishy inside (all technical terms, thanks). It is also quite sweet, but I like them very much.

I have found that people here are very health-conscious (at least the ones I work and live with). I have not, however, met a single vegetarian. It is a concept that they just don't even understand. I guess when you grow up looking at leg of ham hanging in the supermarket it is kind of desensitizing.

Oh and tortillas in Spain are almost nothing like tortillas from Mexico (besides being round). The ones over here can constitute a dinner on their own, as they are made of potatoes and often cheese, egg, and a leafy vegetable. Think quiche with the majority being potato instead of egg! Delicioso!!

Heyo, so remember how I said it never rains here? Well I angered the rain gods, who now deem it necessary to up the rain ante to twice a week. Unfortunately the two chosen days were Friday and Saturday last weekend and look to be Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Look out for a 'Things to do inside in Barca' blog next week.

So remember how I talked a bit about the political situation here next week? My Aunt and Uncle happened upon an NPR program that highlighted some of the same things I talked about. It's short and enlightening, so have a listen.


(For the record, I haven't heard that the government in Madrid is even close to sending troops here. They have their own problems with the protests surrounding the austerity measures right now. Also, I (and most people who are looking from the outside in) concur with the expert that talks about people needing to act with thought instead of emotion)

Whew, sorry I still managed to make quite the long blog post without pictures! Thanks for sticking around, and as always, hope everyone back home is doing well.

Hasta Luego!!

Posted by dclift 22:13 Archived in Spain

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Mmmm! Tortilla de patata.. que delicioso! For reals.. I miss those bad boys. Sounds like Spain is treating you well. Love the blog... it brings me back :)

by Amanda

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