How to Annoy a Spaniard

After seeing the posts on Matador about How to Piss off a German/Chilean/Italian/Dane, Mario told me I needed to write one about Spaniards. I’m a bit hesitant because writing this post could possibly piss (some of) them off. I’m a much bigger fan of making them think I’m awesome, so … you’ll understand my hesitance. Nonetheless, as I wrote it, I found that in the end it was really a complimentary post. Read on; perhaps you’ll see why.

  • Tell them you prefer the food in the States/England/your home country. Spaniards are immensely proud of their cuisine—and rightfully so. Spanish food is awesome, and I miss it when I’m not here. There’s nothing than can replace my suegra’s cooking. She makes the best lentejas (lentil stew), tortilla de patata (Spanish potato omelette), homemade mayonnaise, pan de queso (cheese bread), carne guisada (a kind of roast meat), pisto (similar to ratatouille, but better), etc. I can’t say enough good things. But still. Sometimes I prefer the States, simply because of the variety. There’s spicy food! There’s spices to buy in bulk, like garam masala and star anise. There’s brown sugar! There’s Thai / Indian / Afghani / Tibetan / Vietnamese—and this is all in my college town of Bloomington. So avoid it. Their food is better (and honestly, it is divine).r_lentejas_s31340053_01


  • Refer to American football as just football. Mario loves to joke about this—”Why should it be called football when they just kick the ball when they … punt, you call it? In real football, the players use their feet all the time.” He doesn’t get pissed off, but he’s very hard to piss off, I’ll admit.
  • Tell them soccer is boring. I personally do not believe soccer is boring. It can be boring, and I do prefer basketball (duh!), but I’ve heard many of my countrymen say this. I recommend not saying this in front of any big Spanish soccer fan, at least not without some caveats about how you are an idiot and your opinions don’t matter.



  • Prance around in sweatpants. Sweatpants are perfectly acceptable—in your own home. Outside on the streets? Not unless you’re going to the gym, mister. Also, tennis shoes (or trainers or sneakers) probably shouldn’t be worn unless your circumstances fit into the above-described ones. Mario’s mother recently saw him on the street wearing (what I thought were normal, decent-looking) pants and tennis shoes—and let’s just say she was less than pleased. She urged Mario to throw away the pants, pants I found perfectly normal looking. I just don’t get it, I suppose.
  • Insist that cold weather doesn’t cause colds. Even if the research shows differently, Many Spaniards (including my dear suegra) will insist that many weather-related things cause you to “coger frío,” including: not wearing adequate clothing in the winter (sweaters, scarves), drastic temperature changes, drinking cold water in the winter, etc. There is no point in insisting that viruses cause colds, not cold weather. Just wear your scarf, damn it! Cold water is for summer.
  • Insist on subtitles instead of dubbing when watching a movie on television. Spaniards are very used to dubbing. In contrast, I’ve watched very few movies dubbed into English, and, honestly, I hated them. I prefer subtitles, and I don’t mind “reading” the movie, as some see it. But in Spain, almost every movie is subtitled and so are many TV shows—unless, of course, they’re made in Spain. But there are a lot of American movies and TV shows here. In fact, The Simpsons are much more popular here than in the States.

I want to reiterate that this post is all in good fun … but what would you add?

37 thoughts on “How to Annoy a Spaniard

  1. Dying. Once you’ve got the ins with a Spaniard, this is the perfect way to annoy your boyfriend. I especially love the cold water / not wearing socks in the house / sleeping with the window open / going to the Corte Inglés in summer method of getting a cold. So ridiculous.

  2. You can also piss off a Spaniard by telling them you like France or Italy (or anything related to those countries). Smoke will come out of their ears!

    I agree too on the cold thing. Jacobo freaks out if he leaves the gym and it’s remotely chilly out (the temperature change will surely give him the flu!!??!!). Or God forbid we sleep with any air conditioning.

    1. Yesssssss! I totally forgot this one. Jeez. Mario even told me to do it.

      Sleeping in air conditioning = bliss. I refuse not to do it if we have it!

  3. tell them you’re not a huge fan of jamon serrano. It is the ultimate sin. While I don’t hate it, it’s not my favorite food in the world. There is more to life than jamon, even though Spaniards will think otherwise!

    And complain about siesta. In Madrid, it’s not that big a deal but a lot stores still observe it. I’m used to it now, but I still think it’s useless. A lot of people talk about how it’s all about “enjoying life at a slower pace” but I disagree about that one. I blame siesta on many things, such as on the less than stellar customer service in this country!

    1. They do not understanding not loving jamón. Well, actually, they do get jamón serrano, but try telling them you don’t like jamón ibérico de bellota! Now that, that … that is just crazy!

      1. You are right Kaley. Jamón serrano… ¡bah!…. we have better than that! Jamón iberico is the good one!!! And yes, it’s hard to believe that someone can not like it… (well, I do understand) but still… how is that possible??? hahahhaha

  4. The cold weather thing would definitely get on my nerves, and I’ve honestly never drunk warm water when I could have cold, that makes no sense.

    The no sweatpants/sneakers thing is pretty common in many other parts of the world as well (all of Latin America, France, Italy) and it’s one I actually agree with. Oh! You forgot one! Men wearing shorts. HUGE no-no in Latin America so I’m sure it’s the same in Spain. Those are also things that I completely agree with, and I’m American.


  5. You definitely got some good ones, I would like to add: walking around the house barefoot (another way to catch cold), eating dinner before 9pm, showing up early if they invite you to their house, going out before midnight on a Saturday, shaking their hands when meeting for the first time, maintaining your personal space, using ‘usted’ in the wrong context, trying to form a line (or not asking, ¿quién es el último?), not wearing boots in the winter, asking them to turn the music down at the gym…

  6. Perhaps I’ve been in Spain too long, but I just attributed the fact that I’m sick to the “crazy weather changes” we’ve been having in Galicia this week. Apparently even Spanish doctors believe this because I was just diagnosed with laryngitis and told to rest my voice and to “not expose myself to temperature changes.” Am I supposed to believe science or Spaniards?

  7. haha so true about the colds. I had bronchitis and my doctor yelled at me for not wearing a scarf to her office, saying that’s why I was sick all the time!

  8. Telling them their ideas about what was “digestivo” and what isn’t are crazy. One woman I know was on an apparently popular diet of chicken and canned pineapple, and everyone agreed that lettuce at night is off-limits because it’s not “digestivo”. Any concept of diets and/or healthy eating that bans lettuce at any point is way too crazy for me.

  9. I am in your corner. It’s so funny, after years of experience with Spanish friends, I automatically avoid doing almost all of your list above so as not to hear them correct me. I rave about Spanish food with Spaniards and they appreciate it, even if when I got home from Spain the last time, I felt absolutely thrilled to visit my favorite American breakfast place, Indian buffet, superb Chinese food, cooking in my own kitchen,etc,. I can say that do like soccer/futbol, so we’re safe with that one. My daughter and I scored extra Brownie points by donning “España” t-shirts during the Copa de Oro and walking around in the streets, joining the Spanish in cheering on their team and not the other Europeans (we were in Spain, duh!) and I thought the whole colds thing was hilarious because it’s not just Spaniards, my Armenian mother-in-law will say the same and all the foreign friends I have probably. Do they still serve you cognac in coffee to cure a cold? Because that I am pretty sure is not a good thing. I once mixed my Spanish codeine laced cold medicine with cognac and coffee a bartender gave me for my “tos” and I was markedly sicker within hours! :-D But it’s all good, I doubt you will offend anyone, they are pretty resilient people.

  10. Ha! The cold weather one kills me. I was looking at my 3 yr old son’s “text” book for school (a story book part of the school materials we have to buy) and in one of the stories little Juan was sick because he didn’t wear his scarf. It made me laugh.

  11. My personal favorite: What do you mean you don’t like spicy food? You guys eat a ton of burritos and tacos and stuff like in Mexico, right?

  12. Oh, the dubbing, the dubbing!!! The reason of many problems in this country, well, maybe not many… but sure one! The poor level of English in this country…
    I am so happy now that with the TDT it’s almost always possible to watch TV shows and movies in the original language, and not dubbed!!! :D I’m a happy camper now!

    {I know, I’m not a regular Spaniard.}

  13. I agree with you on all of those and seriously laughed my ass off. I have to add one more which has been the biggest way in which I have been pissing Spaniards off for 2 years straight and that is when they tell me “Spaniards are much more open and friendly than Americans, right?” and I say “No, I don’t think so. In fact I thought the opposite when I first moved to Spain.” The look on their face is priceless. Hey, I gotta be honest though. Not gonna lie to appease anyone, sorry :( I don’t bring these things up though ever because I know that they are easily offended but if they’re gonna bring it up to me, by golly the truth will come and as they say “it hurts”.

    1. I’m surprised that they think that … all the Americans I know agree — Americans are generally friendlier, especially to strangers. Granted, I’m thinking of Americans from the Midwest, not NYC or anything.

    1. Don’t do it – they’ll tar & feather you and then carry across the nearest border.

  14. Hi there, I’m 70% spaniard (dutch family 30% and spanish family 70%) and I love jamón serrano ibérico ;) that’s who we are, I think it all comes to our genes. However, my best friend, who’s 100% spaniard, hate it!! and I can’t believe her!!! how can this be possible? ;)
    I’ve enjoyed reading your comments about the cold weather–cathing a cold issue, because we all believe it true!! In fact, when I was living in UK for a year I couldn’t believe they wore T-shirt on winter! For us, this is what we teach us since we go to kindergarden! In fact, doctors believe it true so… that’s all we need to know!. Eating salad for dinner is not good, isn’t it? There are plenty of studies about this.
    I’d like to tell that I have not slept a siesta in my whole life. NEVER. So in this case I really don’t understand it at all tough maybe being summer with 40º…it is too hot outside as to be doing something else.
    What really annoys me is when ppl think we don’t work, I’m from 8 to 18h at the office(if everything’s goes ok…) and it really piss me off when my british friends told me if I’m tired on a monday because I went out …really???
    Latin American Spanish sounds strange, for me this is totally true and I think it may be cause by their tone, I don’t know, it doesn’t sounds right at all for me. Finally, I can’t stand it when an American tells me Spain is on the south of the States…(you would say: What??? Yes…actually, 4 times in my life, an american told me:”ohhh you’re near us then?” :S…)
    Anyway… you’ll get used to eat jamón for sure! you’ll love it in the end wajajaja!

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