Truths from Spain

This post is basically just a smattering of “facts” I’ve encountered during my time in Spain.

  • Mercadona is the best. Do not argue, do not pass go, do not collect $200.


  • Eating cookies and milk for breakfast is perfectly fine. Okay, these cookies are digestive-type cookies and milk isn’t unhealthy, but it’s always shocking when a child tells me he/she has had cookies and milk para desayunar.
  • Dryers are not necessary. Okay, I agree with this—to a point. Dryers are wasteful, take up a lot of space, and are fairly unnecessary during the summer. But they are so, so nice in the winter, when your clothes take three days to dry on your clotheshorse.

iPhone 031

Me with my hair done for a friend’s wedding in September

  • Getting your hair done for weddings is a must. That is, if you’re a woman. Going to the hairdresser, though you are not a) the bride, b) in the wedding, or c) related to the bride in any way is very common. I heard a cousin of Mario’s tell the other women, “¡Nos vemos en la peluquería!” / “See you at the hairdresser!”
  • An herbal liqueur after a meal helps you digest. I really don’t know if this is true or not, but whatever—who doesn’t like a good crema de orujo (like Bailey’s) or pacharán (a sloe-flavored liquor) after a big meal?
  • Fruit after a meal is (almost) obligatory. I did grow up eating fruit, really. But I’m never going to be on Mario’s or Mario’s family’s level, all of who eat fruit with such regularity that it’s astounding. Mario starts each day with an orange, eats an apple for lunch, and after dinner grapes. That’s his routine right now, and it does vary in which kind of fruit he has for lunch or dinner, but breakfast is always, always, always an orange. Sometimes in the States we’d only have mandarin oranges, which were okay, but not quite the same.
  • Las madres love Tupperware. My mom loves me, but she never made me food, froze it, and put in a Tupperware container for me to take back to my apartment. The mothers and grandmothers in Spain are notorious for this. I work with a guy who’s American but with a Spanish father, so he has relatives here in Madrid. His grandmother insists on making him food and putting it into Tupperware for him to eat donde le da la gana (wherever he wants). It’s not that he’s not capable of providing for himself, but it’s just what the matriarchs of the family do. So prepare yourself. When your Spanish mother-in-law comes a-visiting, she’ll be bringing containers of lentejas (lentil stew), albóndigas (meatballs), pisto de garbanzos (chickpeas with a tomato-eggplant-zucchni sauce), and carrillera (chin meat, and yeah, it’s delicious). Get used to it.

16 thoughts on “Truths from Spain

  1. I agree- Mercadona is the best. I didn’t reallize how great it was until moving to Vitoria-Gasteiz and Mercadona’s don’t exist. In fact, There are none in Pais vasco but this time around I have a Corte Ingles walking distance from my house.

  2. I have to disagree about the dryers. It depends on the apartment you live in. Last year, when I lived in the basement, our apartment had a mold problem which our landlord was unwilling to fix. It takes forever for your clothes to dry in an already damp environment. What is worse, my clothes reeked of mold all year long because I had no choice but to let them dry in our patio which had mold/inside the apartment which also had mold. As soon as I got home from Spain, mother helped me toss all my clothes into the washer and dryer to get rid of the smell because it was that bad. My American roommate also did the same when she came home. This is one instance in which a dryer was kind of necessary. I

  3. The “liquor helps you digest the meal” thing is very common throughout many cultures, e.g. the French also do this, as do many Americans (after-dinner coffee is also common, though not as much as it used to be I think).

    Interesting, love learning about other cultures–thanks, Kaley!


  4. Agree! I missed having a dryer so much, but totally unnecessary in summertime! It was one thing last year in Logroño where I had heat in my apartment but it was a WHOLE other ball game having to line dry clothes in my Córdoba piso without heat. i.e., it SUCKED!

  5. I feel so unSpanish at the moment. I use my dryer almost all winter, don’t get too many tuppers and don’t plan on sending too many when my kids go to college (which is very soon!). I always do my own hair for weddings and for a while people have been saying fruit after a meal is not such a good idea, it’s better in between meals. I’m also getting a little tired of Mercadona, even though it has some great products, just too monotonous at times.

  6. Love the fruit after a meal tradition – though now I eat fruit all day.
    I lived near a Dia store so would pick up snacks and things there. It was what was convenient.
    I remember waiting in line at an airport and a guy opened his suitcase…amongst his shirts, pants, and shoes were bocadillos – carefully wrapped in foil.
    And the dryers–I still remember how crisp my socks and pants were :) Though I still only use a dryer for towels and sheets. Everything else I hang to dry.

  7. Mercadona is the best, I agree. There’s not one anywhere near my house, but I was tickled to find one by my school.

    Your story about the tuper-toting in-laws reminded me of a story a co-worker told me last year. My co-teacher seemed troubled one Monday morning,and I asked him what was wrong. Upon talking to him further, he narrated the heart-wrenching story of how his freezer went out and he lost all of the frozen his mom had sent him over the last few months. (And this is also a guy who’s wife likes to cook!!) However, being away from home myself, I can’t help with sympathize with the sentiment–the foods your parents cook will also be special to you!

  8. I so miss having a dryer. Here in humid Galicia it takes forever for clothes to dry.. and now that we have two little kids and so much more laundry. Jeans take days and I end up hanging bits of clothing all over the apartment in order to make space for everything. At least it’s ecological.
    The cookies thing always gets me too. Kids cereal in the US is probablt basically like eating cookies but it always does seem funny to have dessert for breakfast.
    Fruit is obligatory and with a knife and fork :)

  9. I love it! You are certainly right about Mercadona and drying clothes. Its such a pain to have your clothes all over the house on the “radiadores”! And my mil always sends tupperware! Gotta love it!

  10. Let me offer yet another nod in agreement of the fact that Mercadona is the best. Got to love the herbs & spices section, and they are the only place that sells PG Tips and proper Muesli! (A huge deal if you’re British) ;)

What do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s