Cuando estuve en España

Aquí hay una pequeña tarea escrita de Julio 2013.

Este año, por los vacaciones invernos, he ido a España para mejorar hablar español. Fui con mi clase español de Australia.

Nosotros fuimos el primer sabado por la manana. Nuestro vuela volió par Melbourne, Hong Kong, y Londres. Arribimos en Madrid domingo por la manana y tamimos un autobús a Salamanca por la tarde.

Cuando estuvimos ido a Salamanca, yo vi mucho paìsaje. Por mi, yo pienso que el paìsaje en España es muy parecida a Australia. A media camino entre Madrid y Salamanca es el paìsaje igual del paìsaje cerca de Strathalbyn.

Pero las ciudades son muy distinta de las ciudades y pueblos australianas. En España, hay muchas ciudades muy viejos, con edificios muy grandes y muy viejos. En Salamanca, hay dos catedrales – uno del siglo décimo a decímoprimero, y un del siglo decimoquinto. También hay muchos otros edificios del signlos decimoquinto a decimoctavo en la ciudad.

No está terminado, yo creo.

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Five Foreign Foods I Really Liked, And Five I Didn’t

Just as it says: five foreign foods or drinks I really like (and wish would become a thing in Australia), and five I really didn’t like. In no particular order.
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The first item on my list is Currywurst.

Currywurst is a German invention, consisting of chopped-up sausage (usually Bockwurst or pork sausage, I think), topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled with curry. I’m don’t know whether this sounds nice to you or not, but believe me, it’s yummy.
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I just can’t believe it hasn’t caught on in the Hills, at least – you can get just about every other sort of Wurst in Hahndorf.
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The next item on my list is Fruit Boba.
Passion fruit slushie boba & strawberry banana smoothie
It took some searching to find that name. I’d just been calling them “those Fruit Slushies from Singapore“. Obviously, they’re from Singapore, and they’re a brilliant idea.
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The basic principle is simple: Somewhere in the shopping centre or market place, you will find at least one stand with an amazing array of fruit (and sometimes vegetables), usually in slices or chunks, on display behind the glass bit. You point to whatever combination of fruit (and/or vegetables) you want, and the person behind the stand sticks it all in a blender with some ice cubes, blends it up, and puts it in a plastic cup with a straw.
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And away you walk, basking in the awesome cool sweetness of blended-up fruit and ice in the sticky Singapore heat.
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The third item is Mosto.

Mosto

Mosto is a Spanish drink; basically sweet grape juice. Now, I don’t usually like grape juice, but for mosto I make an exception. The best part is that it comes in both blanco (white) and tinto (red), just like wine.
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The fourth item is Bulgogi.

Now, this is something which, over the past few years, with the rise of K-Pop, has become a thing in Australia. However, it’s very hard to find anywhere that does it right here. Most places (and there’s now a Korean food shop in just about every suburb) will give you a plate with rice on one side and bulgogi meat on the other side. Some do it better than others. Some places will even add a little kimchi and maybe soupy stuff.
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But this, to me, is not true bulgogi. To me, bulgogi means going into a little hole-in-the-wall place on the backstreets of Daejon or Pusan, paying somewhere around the equivalent of $7 for four people, and being shown to a knee-high table surrounded by pillows. It means sitting down on the pillows on the floor, and being given a huge pot of bulgogi, a frying tray thing, another huge pot of white rice, more little bowls of condiments than you can count – purple rice, yellow rice, horseradish, black bean stuff, kimchi, all sorts of other things I can’t even name – and a plate of lettuce. It means grabbing a huge lettuce leaf, nestling it in the palm of your hand and filling it with rice and meat and condiments by means of thin metal chopsticks, before wrapping it up and trying to shove it all in your mouth at once.
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Since bulgogi was the only thing we knew how to ask for, it’s pretty much the only thing we ate in Korea. We got so sick of it while over there, but when we got back, we can’t get enough of it!
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Another Korean dish, which I’ve actually found some pretty good versions of in Adelaide, is dolsot bibimbap.
You can get just plain bibimbap, but that’s not as exciting – dolsot bibimbap comes in a hot stone bowl. Basically, it’s a bed of rice, on which you have bulgogi meat, grated carrot, cucumber, and various other condiments, all topped with a raw egg. (Or a fried on, in the case of plain old bibimbap).
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The final item on my list of stuff I like is Frozen Yoghurt.
This is something I tried in Spain, but I don’t think it’s a Spanish thing (ice-cream stands were a lot more common over there, from what I could see. I’d include the ice-cream I had over there, but I’m out of space). My host sister told me that it’s quite popular in Brasil.
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Anyway, basically what happens here is that you get a huge squirt of frozen yoghurt, which looks a lot like a soft-serve in a tub. But tastes a whole lot better. Then, you can pick your choice of toppings – bits of fruit, nuts, chocolates and sweets – and finish it off by drizzling it with flavoured topping or caramel. Yum.
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Okay, now onto my list of stuff I don’t like.
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I’ll kick of the list with two things: Sauerkraut and Kimchi.
I’ve put these two together because I really can’t tell that much difference between them. Sauerkraut is more finely chopped, and kimchi has copious amounts of spices in it, but the basic principle is the same: fermented cabbage. Oh, I know people who swear by kimchi and claim it has all sorts of amazing properties, such as fending off swine flu, and I’ll even have a little kimchi on occasion (very little) – after all, the spices mask the taste of fermented cabbage. But basically, I don’t like either of them.
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The second item on my don’t-like list is Paella.
To give it its due, I’ve got to admit that my dislike of this iconic Spanish dish probably stems from my dislike of seafood, but really – paella, to me, seems little more than watery fried rice with oversized prawns.
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The third item on my list is Root Beer, Doctor Pepper, and Spezi.
Pretty much the only reason Coke and Pepsi aren’t on this list is because they’re (very) common in Australia. The others aren’t.
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If you’ve read The Idiot’s Guide, you already know my opinions on Root Beer and Doctor Pepper (both American beverages). If not, you can read it here: https://coveredrachel.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/the-idiots-guide-to-the-usa-drink/. Basically, the conclusion my family came to after trying those two beverages was that Root Beer tastes like a hospital (with black food colouring) and that Doctor Pepper is made of cough medicine, thinned out with added black food colouring.
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Spezi, on the other hand, is a German drink, and is made by mixing Coke (or Pepsi) with Fanta. It’s probably not too bad if you like both of those drinks, but I don’t like Coke.
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The fourth item on the list is Macaroni and Cheese.
To be honest, I have no idea why I don’t like this signature American dish. After all, basically all it is is pasta with cheese sauce. I have that all the time – with added tuna and vegetables, of course, making it tuna mornay. But the point still stands that, by all sensible reasoning, Macaroni and Cheese should be something I love.
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And the truth is, I did. For the first two mouthfuls. And then it got thick, and rich, and I felt sick.
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So who knows? I had it at a couple of places over there, and the same thing happened every time. I don’t know why, but for some reason, Macaroni and Cheese makes it onto the list of foreign foods I don’t like.
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And the final thing on this list is Summer Pud.
Summer Pud is an English dish, a dessert, and I think my dislike of this dish comes from my utter repulsion for soggy bread.
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Summer Pud basically consists of bread and stewed fruit – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries. Actually, the inside is quite nice. Anyway, it steeps for a couple of hours and is served with fruit, juice, or cream.
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So, there you have it: five foreign foods I’ve tried and loved, and five I’ve tried and hated.
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What about you? What are some foods you’ve tried overseas? What did you think of them?

The Twelfth Day

Let’s not dwell on the (many) bad points about my last day in Spain, and focus on the fact that I finally got out in Salamanca with a functioning camera and an SD card.

 

Me (centre), with Rosa (the secretary), and "Xili", short for Maria Auxiliadora (the owner).

Me (centre), with Rosa (the secretary), and “Xili”, short for Maria Auxiliadora (the owner).

 

The Gothic cathedral.

The Gothic cathedral.

The dome on the Gothic cathedral.

The dome on the Gothic cathedral.

The front doors of the Gothic cathedral.

The front doors of the Gothic cathedral.

A close up of above the front door.

A close up of above the front door.

Above a doorway somewhere in central Salamanca.

Above a doorway somewhere in central Salamanca.

The side of the Romanesque (10th-12th century) cathedral.

The side of the Romanesque (10th-12th century) cathedral. The two girls in the picture are Clara, the Brasilian who was staying with me, and her sister Fabi, who lives in Galicia.

Casa de Conchas.

Casa de Conchas.

The stalk's nest.

The stalk’s nest.

The Plaza Mayor.

The Plaza Mayor – at 10pm.

 

The Eleventh Day

So, yesterday was terrible. Well, it ended terribly, anyway. So I was just going to go to bed, try to forget about all the terrible things – my shoes breaking, my bed breaking, the door being shut in my face when I went to ask for help because my bed broke, the Korean chicos talking (and burping) very loudly on the other side of the very thin wall both before and after shutting the door in my face, the second lesson devolving into an exchange of terms for impolite parts of the human anatomy, being abandoned by the other Australians in the backstreets of Salamanca and wandering around for half an hour, completely lost – and face today with good expectations.

That lasted about fifteen minutes – just long enough for me to get dressed and out to breakfast, where my host mother cornered me with accusations about leaving stains on the floor, a rant about how much it would cost to clean, and a command to wear shoes at all times in the house. At least, that what I think she said, in a much-abridged version. Unfortunately, my Spanish isn’t quite bad enough to pretend not to understand.

Okay, so admittedly, I have been applying Neosporin to my feet several times a day. I’m reasonably certain one of the open blisters managed to get infected anyway – it now feels like there’s a small pebble in the bottom of my foot pressing against my nerves every time I take a step. And I don’t have any Neosporin left. But, antibiotic gel application or not, I have been very careful not to let me feet touch the floor when there’s Neosporin on them, and I’ve been wearing socks around the house to make absolutely sure, despite the fact that it’s about 40 degrees inside the house and any sane person would be going barefoot.

I don’t think completely forgetting about cena last night helped, either.

I didn’t end up doing yesterday’s homework because of the cooking class, but I left really early this morning – not staying at home for any longer than necessary! – and did it at a park near the school. Then I found out that I’d actually done the wrong homework. And Cristina’s lesson was just as vulgar and uncontrolled as it was yesterday. Maria says she’s going to skip Cristina’s lesson tomorrow and I’m of more than half a mind to join her. She wasn’t at school today, so I had to sit through that lesson with four gutter-minded boys (because there’s no way I’m giving them the respect of referring to them as “men”, even if the youngest is 22 and the oldest in his 30s) and a teacher who only encouraged them. If only I weren’t such a wimp, I’d have walked out.

The sign at the bridge we sat by.

The sign at the bridge we sat by.

Anyway, I did meet up with Maria after school and we went down to the river. That was nice, although four hours did disappear without a trace.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to get back to Australia. Actually, I think I just want to get back to somewhere where I can communicate. I’d even take Germany, right now!

I can only hope it’s just fatigue talking here, because that above comment is seriously unlike me. I mean, only a few days ago I was hoping that I could stay in Spain for longer!

The Tenth Day

My old zapatillos - €3,90

My old zapatillos – €3,90

Well, the highlight of the morning was my shoes breaking during pausa (recess). I managed to fix them with celo (sticky tape) long enough to last half-way up the street the chino (cheap shop) is on after school, where I bought some new ones.

My new zapatillos - €4,10

My new zapatillos – €4,10

I’m not particularly bothered. They were very cheap, anyway, and in their eight days of life, they’ve probably seen more walking than I would usually do in a month or three, what with going to Toledo as well as getting lost in Salamanca a couple of times.

While the new ones are of the same squidgy plastic stuff as the old ones, they’re a different style. These buckle-closure things look like they’ll hold up better than the old ones. Not that it really matters, with on a handful of days left in Salamanca.

… Then again, they probably would have lasted longer if I hadn’t had a spinny-chair race with French-American Gabriel (because there are two Gabriels) in the coffee room during pausa. His excuse was that he’s fifteen. My excuse was that there was chocolate.

Anyway, this evening I went out and cooked paella. I was meant to do it at the school tomorrow night, but some places opened up at Salamanca School of Hospitality for three people to go to classes there tonight. We put our names on a bit of paper and Xili pulled them out of a hat. I won.

Here are the pics. My group made vegetarian paella. You’ll see at the end that it doesn’t look as paella-y as everyone else’s.

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The four paellas

The four paellas

The cooking class.

The cooking class.

After eating.

After eating.

 

 

The Eighth Day

So, picture this:

Somewhere in Spain, there are four teenagers sitting around a table, eating breakfast. Between them, they have three mother languages, one language which they’re all learning, plus a couple more floating about for good measure.

Are you picturing it?

You’d expect a lot of talking, right? Speaking loudly and gesturing and trying to communicate? Talking about the food? Talking about school? Fumbling around in an unfamiliar language? Miming out words?

Well, if that’s what you’re imagining, then you missed one key word: teenagers.

Yes, that’s right. While comida (lunch) and cena (dinner) are as interesting as I’ve described, desayunar (breakfast) was the complete opposite. Dragging four teenagers out of bed in the morning, while 75% of them are still jetlagged and one is recovering from a fourteen-hour excursion, for breakfast at 7:30, does not result in lively conversation. Rather, we all just sat there staring blankly into space or at our food, speaking in monosyllables only. Which, if you’ve ever heard Spanish or Korean or Portuguese spoken, is quite an achievement.

And before I tell you about the rest of my day, let me make a quick observation: Am I the only one who thinks that Portuguese sounds like Spanish being spoken with a Russian accent? Am I imagining things? Because over the past two days, I spoke both with a Brasilian girl (and heard her speaking to her Brasilian friends) and with a Czech girl (in Spanish). And to be honest, they both sound pretty similar. I mean, I can identify Portuguese as being a Romantic language if I hear it, but it’s got this distinctive Slavic twang to it…

Now, onto school. Most people seem to attend Hispano Continental in two-week blocks, although one-, three-, and four-week blocks are also common. But this means that each week, there is a slightly different bunch of people. We lost a couple of people at the end of last week – Irene being one of them – but gained maybe half a dozen other odds and ends, plus a rather large group of Koreans. They were testing during the first lesson, but we had three new guys join our class for the second lesson. They all seem about the right level for the class, so I don’t think any of them will be moved, but it does mean we now have a Thomas and a Tommy in our class.

We learnt vegetables today. I knew a couple – guisantes (peas), zarahoria (carrot), champañón (mushroom), cal (cabbage), maíz (corn), lechuga (lettuce), and so on – but some of the pictures were a little hard to identify (like identifying avellanas [hazelnuts] and castañas [chestnuts] last Friday. Is it my fault I thought one was a macadamia?) so Cristina put them into Google images for us to see. So she brings up this pages of pictures that could be any of a million different sorts of green and leafy – cabbage, kale, spinach… – and expects us to know what it is. Needless to say, we all asked for further clarification, so she put it into some translator thing. Swiss chord. Being the only native English speaker in the class, they all look to me for clarification – and I’m just as confused as everyone else! I have no idea what Swiss chord is! Let’s just assume it’s kale until proven otherwise…

Oh, and there was a “welcome party”. When that happened to me last week, I just assumed it was recess and that it happened everyday. Actually, it only happens on Mondays. So between the “welcome party” and lunch, I couldn’t down my flan after lunch (not that I probably would have particularly enjoyed it anyway – it’s got the same sort of consistency as custard – but the “welcome party” was a good excuse for not eating it). Welcome party food was fun, although I did discover that mixing mandarin juice with lemon Fanta results in a somewhat disturbing shade of brown.

This evening, I went to dancing class. Let me tell you, none of us have any co-ordination whatsoever! I’m definitely sticking to ceilidhs and bush dances from now on… Spanish dancing is not my thing.

After dancing, we went out and got drinks. I got Bubble Tea (I know, I know, very Spanish, isn’t it?) – green tea con leche, fresa flavoured, with fresa and yoghurt bubbles. It was quite nice. The others pretty much just got Fanta – except for Daniel, who got some sort of milkshake cream thing.

Looking back on it, a rather interesting day. Mondays are actually quite fun in Spain…