Mario called it The Zamoran Invasion. My friend’s Spanish husband referred to it as The Spanish Invasion. Whatever you want to call it, invasion or otherwise, it was definitely chaotic. But also fun. We showed our guests, my in-laws, quite a few places and events, all of which I’ll get around to discussing eventually, but for now I’d just like to list a few stray observations:
A Zamoran, invading
Green, green everywhere.
One thing my in-laws couldn’t stop talking about—wherever we went—was how green everything was. Even Galicia and Asturias are not this green, they said. But, you ask, did they like this?
You bet they did! I too am a fan of green spaces, and not just in parks. Spain’s climate is noticeably drier than most of the US’s, so there is a lot less green and a lot more brown.
It’s okay to think that: green is better than brown.
What is it with the raw vegetables?
I hadn’t ever thought about this, but we tend to eat more raw vegetables than Spaniards. (Spaniards definitely eat more vegetables than the average American, though.) I love a good veggie tray, and we thus had a few different ones during our stay.
My in-laws tried raw broccoli (with homemade dip!) for the first time. My mother-in-law confessed to loving baby carrots, which she referred to as “esas zanahorias pequeñitas.”
Crunch, crunch, crunch on those: baby carrots.
Coffee can be flavored.
In Spain, coffee is pretty much espresso + milk, and it is delicious. (Although let’s not compare to Italy’s or else I’ll start craving the daily cappuccinos I had on our honeymoon in Italy.) Flavored coffee is not something that happens in Spain.
So when my in-laws said they had some gas-station coffee, I was concerned. I’ve only once had it, and it was pure swill. I couldn’t finish the cup. (Snob? No way.) Apparently, though, they’d had one of those ultra-sweet flavored kinds, something like French Vanilla, and … they loved it. Never would have expected that.
Me? I’m still sticking to my relaxing cups of café con leche made by my amazing espresso machine in Madrid.
Remember that: coffee is good, and if it’s bad, flavor it.
America makes you go to bed earlier.
It was kind of funny to see my in-laws adjust so rapidly to the American timetable. In Spain, going to bed at midnight and getting up at 8 or 8:30 a.m. is normal. But in the States, they found themselves exhausted by 11 p.m.
But then they were up by 7:30 a.m.! My father-in-law took a walk, took pictures of traffic signs, and spoke to some Amish roofers one morning—all before I woke up!
You may have been in the States too long if it seems that: 11 p.m. is late.
The dessert schedules are different.
In my family at least, we tend to eat dinner and then wait a bit to have dessert (if we have any at all). In Spain, we normally have dessert right after the fruit course, with no times for the stomach to do any digesting. I confess to being a fan of this schedule, and I don’t think my in-laws minded at all. More space for black raspberry pie, after all!
Plan you dessert schedule in such a way that: you can eat twice as much.
Wine from California can be delicious.
I don’t think they doubted this, but they tried wine from California and Washington state, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. My mom and dad had bought some wine during their trip to the Sonoma valley, and it was indeed quite drinkable. We had several different kinds during their stay, and they liked them all!
You don’t a sommelier to know that: Wine is good.
Things are bigger in America.
Self explanatory. Also: Chicago has real skyscrapers.
Just admit that: bigger is better.
My father-in-law got quite used to the fact that people would say hello as they passed us or randomly wave at us even though they didn’t know us. Had we given him a few more weeks, I’m sure he’d have been the one initiating contact!
You know you’re craving that: Midwestern friendliness.