The Foreigner at the Table

I’ve eaten many a meal with Mario’s family. His friends, too. But it wasn’t until recently that his cousin pointed out to me that, well, I eat funny. No, no, my chewing habits are just fine, thanks. But what’s up with your hand?

Think long and hard about what you do with your hands while you eat. Inspired by this post about Spaniards’ eating habits, I came up with my own list of the way Spaniards find us guiris weird at the dinner table:

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The Secret

No, I’m not talking about the book. I’m talking about the secret to getting comments/views. If we’re honest with ourselves, we bloggers love comments. I know I do. I get a fair amount of views – nothing huge, mind you – but few comments. A lot of those are from my friends, blogging or otherwise. I think many read and do not comment. Some posts get more comments than others, though. Why is that? Well, in my blog’s case, there are a few things that generate more comments than others…

  1. Posting lists. People love lists. How to Dress Like a Spaniard, My Top 10 Myths About Spain, 15 Rules to Thrive in Spain – all have generated many comments and views.
  2. Photos. People prefer posts with photos. Ooooh, shiny!
  3. Siesta. On WordPress, you can see the search terms people use to find your blog and my top search term is consistently “siesta.” I guess people like napping, and I can’t say that I find that off-putting. Who doesn’t love a good siesta after a filling Spanish lunch with lots of delicious red wine? Not me, my friend, not me.
  4. Mario. I kinda hate to admit this, most of all in a public forum, but posting about my bilingual relationship gets way more comments/views than normal. What gives, people? Are you trying to hint at me that you like him more than me? Seriously? He says “Espain” and talks with an adorable accent, I get it. But I’m the protagonist of this blog…well, I thought I was anyway.
  5. Food. People like to eat. As for this one, I’m totally on board. Spanish food is awesome, and if you think it’s just like it is in the tapas bars, you’re wrong. My Spanish almost-mother-in-law is probably the best cook in all of Spain, and na na na boo boo, she cooks for me. For free. Pepita, if you could understand this, I’d tell you I miss your lentejas terribly. I would definitely hire you to cook for me if a) I could afford it, and b) you would actually move here, which you never would, since you’re pretty damn popular in good old Zamora.
Oh, and here’s a picture. Just to keep you entertained.
Wine tasting in Zamora with my dad (left), Mario’s dad, and me.

La Siesta

Spain has imported several words into the English language: fiesta, guerrilla, loco, jade, and many more. But none so important as the siesta. What is the siesta? You may think it’s just a nap. But you, my friend, would be wrong. The siesta is so much more than a mere nap. It’s a national pasttime, and Spaniards are dead serious about it.

The word siesta comes, like most Spanish words from Latin, meaning “la sexta hora” or “the sixth hour.” The siesta should preferably occur when the sun is at its highest point and, thus, it is the hottest part of the day. In this way, one avoids the sun’s potentially damaging ultraviolet rays. Also, this means that you’re not out when it’s boiling hot, as it often can be in the meseta of central Spain.

Spaniards’ schedules are quite different the typical North American’s. They typically eat a small breakfast (e.g., digestive cookies and chocolate milk/coffee) and perhaps have a small snack during the traditional 11 AM coffee break when all the employees go to the nearest café to drink tiny cups of coffee and eat pinchos of tortilla española or jamón serrano. Lunch is typically from 2-4 or even 2-5, with most Spanish families sitting down to eat between 2:30 and 3 PM. This means that the meal is often not over until 3:30 or even 4. After a delicious meal involving copious amounts of carbohydrates in the form of crunchy baguettes, the need for sleep hits you fast. My eyelids are usually drooping even as I am drinking my after-lunch coffee and Mario’s father is encouraging me to eat some dessert. The bed looks soft and it is tempting, and so I succumb to a delicious 45 minute nap. (Mario tells me this is too long and should actually be anywhere from 15-30 minutes but I’m foreign so he lets this pass.)

All of this is well and good. I mean, who doesn’t like carbs and napping? I certainly can’t voice any objection to either one. However, the siesta is a nationally practiced sport and that means nothing is open. Oh sure, if you had a heart attack they might consider opening the hospital for you, but nothing else is open. You’d like to shop on your lunch hour? No can do. Need to buy stamps? Uh uh, girl. Wait until 4:30 at least and probably 5:00 because some of our naps last longer than others. Don’t even think about getting your hair cut! How could you?

After all, the siesta is a sport. One might even have to train for it. Hey, I’m up for that. Do not laugh at the picture that follows: TThis is a chair designed especially for the siesta. Why is this necessary? Well, it’s not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend approximately $2,500 on it, right? Right?

All this talk about naps has me tired. The bed is looking particularly comfy, so don’t mind me…I’m off to echarme una buena siesta!