Showing posts from December, 2012

Córdoba, Spain: Christians, Jews, Muslims…and Travelers

After Granada, the place I was most looking forward to visiting in Spain was Córdoba. I had learned much about the city in college while taking classes on Hispanic Culture & Civilization and Islam, and couldn’t wait to experience a locale where memories of three cultures—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—were preserved in buildings of such stunning architecture.

Three weeks ago, I finally got the chance to visit this city in the southern part of the country—and by visit, I mean wander in circles in the town’s old Jewish quarter. Read on to learn what I saw when I wasn’t lost!

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (“Palace of the Christian Monarchs”) sits at the southwestern corner of Córdoba’s old town. The site itself has been a fortress since Roman times, and for ten years the castle served as a home base of sorts for the Reyes Católicos—Ferdinand and Isabella. Here they planned their final attacks on the Muslim-ruled Kingdom of Granada (which fell in 1…

5 Things That Scare Me in Spain

Living abroad is a fun and intellectually-stimulating activity; I don’t at all regret making the decision to move to Spain for nine months or more. There have been so many opportunities to travel to beautiful cities full of historical sights and gastronomic delights, so many ways I have been challenged to get better at speaking Spanish, and so many differences I’ve picked up on between Spanish and American culture.

But doing life here in Spain isn’t always the magical experience it may seem from my Instagram feed or travelogue blog posts. I tend to stay in most weekends to save €€€ for the one city trip I take per month; Spanish schoolchildren, as cute as they are, tend to be loud and wild; and I struggle to understand what most of my fellow Spanish teachers are talking about because of their accents.

And although I’ve moved from one developed country to another, there are a few parts about living here in Spain for nine months that make me worried. Thankfully, I have been paid by my s…

Recipe: Personal Pan Spanish Tortilla

The other day I had a big craving for some tortilla española—Spanish potato omelet—with the memory of tortilla from Casa Santos in Córdoba, Spain, still fresh in my mouth. Since cooked eggs (apart from boiled ones) don’t keep too well in the fridge, there was no way I was going to make a family-size tortilla using a traditional recipe. So, I decided instead to make what I am calling a Personal Pan Tortilla, inspired by Pizza Hut’s Personal Pan Pizza.

There’s nothing really original about the recipe; it’s basically a normal tortilla with the number of eggs and potatoes reduced. Spanish cuisine may not be very spicy or exotic, but it is comforting and savory. I hope you enjoy this warm and simple representation of Spanish cooking.

Personal Pan Spanish Tortilla
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

1 large potato2eggs1 teaspoonsmoked paprikaDirections
Peel and slice a potato into thin disks and whisk 2 eggs. Fry the potato sli…

Granada, Spain: City of Magic

The first weekend of November I took a trip to the city of Granada, a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalucía and nestled up against the Sierra Nevada (“Snowy Range”). I know, I know, I’m writing this post about a month after the fact, so forgive me. Anyway, in the future I’d like to use these travel posts to talk about the highlights of each place I visit—not every emotion I felt or food I ate or street I walked down but the main things to see and do in town. I hope these will be concise yet interesting for future travelers (be they backpackers or armchair travelers).

Catedral & Capilla Real In the center of the city are the Catedral (“Cathedral”) and Capilla Real (“Royal Chapel”). Even if you’re not Catholic or even religious, I think it’s always a good idea to stop by the major cathedrals in cities you visit in Spain because they give you a closer look into the country’s history and culture; often they are veritable museums. For example, Granada’s cathedral was built i…

Sloppy Joes, Expat Edition (Recipes Inside!)

A couple of weeks ago I had a hankerin’ for some of my mom’s sloppy joe sandwiches garnished with coleslaw, but here in Spain canned Manwich—the sloppy joe sauce you simply pour onto a frying pan of cooked ground beef—is nowhere to be found. What was this poor boy to do? Well, do just like when I made pumpkin pie—make it from scratch.

I did some Googling and came across the ingredients in a can of Manwich. Scarred for life! That stuff is mainly water, sugar corn syrup, and creepy chemicals. Perhaps not having the convenience of canned Manwich can be a good thing.

More Googling…then I came across (coincidentally enough) a Spain-themed cooking blog. The author, Diana, is half-Spanish and is all about natural, healthy cooking and has provided a recipe for “real” sloppy joes here. Her ingredients list inspired me to put together a little how-to post for how to make sloppy joes while living abroad. Feel free to tweak it as you cook; mustard and tomato paste would probably round out the fla…

November Monthly Update: The Day of Giving of Thanks Edition

Well, another month has come and gone in Spain, which means I now “carry” (as they say in Spanish) two months in the country. A quarter of the way through my stay here already—unbelievable, but I can’t wait to see what comes next.

This month I did a lot of teaching about Thanksgiving, or in Spanish, el Día de Acción de Gracias, which I have literally translated in this post’s title. I guess sometimes English naming conventions are a bit more tidy than those in Spanish! Anyway, what follows is a little bit of what I’ve been up to lately.

Granada trip The first weekend in November I took a weekend trip to the city of Granada during the puente (long weekend; literally “bridge”) for All Saints’ Day (Día de Todos los Santos). Granada is a beautiful provincial capital about two hours south of where I’m living in Úbeda, and was a welcome break from Month 1 of working and living abroad.

I’m going to publish a full post about the trip later this week, but it’s safe to say I was not disappointe…