Things Spanish people miss when they are abroad
Let’s talk about Spanish culture—Spanish things in general, nothing specific. But wait a second… how do you know if something is really Spanish?
How about things Spanish people miss when they travel? I’d say that’s a good answer, and I’m the one who writes the article so a good answer it is (hah!). After asking a few friends and later having a look at a few articles out there, I’ve managed to put together a list of things that are authentically Spanish:
This one is easy if you have been to Spain. Tapas are basically appetizers that come in many varieties: they can go from a few olives (to make the beer you’re drinking feel less lonely) to a mini version of a properly cooked dish. The good thing is that you can share them with others… actually no, the good thing is that you can try several things, because the struggle of going to a bar and ordering only one thing is real.
Laugh all you want, but this is a basic element of Spanish living. Let me give you a quick example: ten years ago, I went to England for three weeks to do an English course in a little village. I woke up at 5am every single day because the sun wouldn’t let me sleep, and no, I’m not a vampire who drinks sangría instead of blood. Long live window blinds.
We have window blinds because we have the sun, and once you’re used to it, it’s hard to live in a grey world.
I guess this may happen to anyone, Spanish or not, but many Spaniards really miss the local festivals they have in their pueblos. Bank holidays are okay, but there’s nothing like the insanity of a village festival you’ve known since you were a child.
A friend specifically mentioned the timetable for dinner and partying, but as many of you know, we also often wake up later, have breakfast and lunch later, etc. Dinner is often between 9pm and 10.30pm, for example, and you won’t properly start partying before 1am.
Computer keyboards with ñ
Ah, the things I’ve written while I was abroad. Dark, dark memories. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but I often created new words, and I’m quite sure I’m not alone. One of the worst things is that there’s no ñ on non-Spanish keyboards (it’s more or less equivalent to the Portuguese nh and similar to the Polish ń).
Having a nice chat after lunch
You don’t leave the table when you finish eating, sir. Neither do you, madam. You stay and talk. It’s called sobremesa and it’s nice, really. When we Spaniards go abroad, finish eating at a restaurant, start the post-lunch chat and waiters cast accusing glances at us, we miss our country.
Crappy bars for old people
It’s hard to describe these. They are often grey, dull, with nothing remarkable about them. They offer one brand of beer, two brands of wine and three different tapas. There is something depressing about them, and some Spaniards hardly ever go to them. However they are (how to say it?) part of the Spanish landscape. When you see one of these bars, you know you are at home. So when you come back from abroad and you see one of these bars, you can’t help but smile.
This literally means fried tomato. The fact that the whole world doesn’t worship it bewilders me. The fact that people can survive without it makes smoke come out of my ears in a desperate attempt to understand the incomprehensible.
It’s the most practical thing in the world and it’s certainly quite tasty. There’s not a single Spanish student who hasn’t eaten pasta with tomate frito bazillions of times (although it’s used for many other dishes as well).
Just pack your luggage with it if you come to Spain and then have to leave, will you? You can leave your clothes behind, you’ll survive without them.
This is only a quick preview of the things Spanish people miss when they go abroad, because we are very proud bunch that loves so many things about our culture (we sometimes love our culture too much, I’d say). I could keep writing, but let’s be honest, 90% of it would be about food, and I’m getting too hungry for that.
Thanks to Isabel, Javi, Jaime, Jose, Carol and Álvaro for their suggestions, and thanks to Tina for correcting the few mistakes I had made.