This must be the most torturous week in the course. It’s been 7 weeks in Spain for my classmates and more for me. We tried our best to get accustomed to life here while learning a new language, making new friends and discovering new things.
But there’s still something nagging us, something we try to put aside for later. Not talking about it helps except when we have to talk about it.
The theme of this week’s lessons is COMIDA – Food.
Man! That was tough. It hits you right in the belly literally. For five days we have to talk about food in Spain and of our countries: street food, festive food, favourite food, traditional food and more food with every hour and day passing by making us more and more homesick.
It got so bad that my young Chinese classmate was seriously thinking of going home and all of us had to rally around to stop her from giving up. Mid-week we went to a Chinese restaurant for food therapy and group counselling. Well it seemed to work but it’s hard to tell. Something else may trigger another emotional flight and it may not be so easily fixed. We’ll cross the bridge when we get there.
Food aside, what did we learn this week? Doesn’t seem very much. I have no new notes except for a couple of new phrases about food.
My teacher told us there’s no point teaching us grammar if we don’t use it. So he forced us to talk more and write less. Apply what we were taught, make mistakes, learn from them and get used to communicating in Spanish.
Must admit his tough love actually worked. Finally I was able to order my breakfast in Spanish exactly how I want it served – hot croissant with grilled ham and melted cheese, and coffee with milk served in a glass. Doesn’t seem like an amazing feat but imagine eating something that’s totally different from your expectations for several months because the words just don’t come out and you understand how happiness can be found in the simple things in life.
Back to food. Spanish cuisine varies with the regions. For example, the famous paella that many foreigners know so well is typical in the south-eastern province of Valencia. The coastal provinces are great for seafood. The central and mountainous regions have fantastic beef, pork and lamb dishes. The Spanish ham Jamon is found everywhere and of course varieties of tapas or pinchos are served in all bars.
The cuisine in Valladolid reflects the gastronomy of the Castilla y León (Castle and Lion) region – mostly meat roasted, grilled or stewed; paired with wine from Ribera del Duero where one of the most notable Spanish vineyards Vega Sicilia is found.
Some of the wonderful food that I will certainly miss when I get back home.
Missing Spain already.