La Comida: Can you say “Jamón”?

14 Sep

Hola mis amigos!

Sometimes, it still blows my mind that I truly am here:  The sea; the mountains; the new friends I’ve made; the fact that I’ve already completed a 3 credit college course in two weeks.  It’s been a lot, but I’m still ready for so much more.  Everything has gone smoothly, and I’m actually somewhat excited that I will be beginning my regular classes in just two days.  Still, with as much as I’ve already seen, done, and learned it’s hard to believe that this is only the beginning of the best experience of my life.

During the past two weeks, one of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make is becoming accustomed to a completely new diet.  It’s taken some getting used to, because the food is extremely different here.  I wasn’t feeling the greatest for the first week or so.  I think I’ve had a drop in my iron intake—I’m a little iron deficient—because they don’t eat all that much red meat here.  On the plus side, the food here is generally much healthier.  Mix that with a ton of walking and drinking a ton of water, I’ve found that pounds shed off quite easily 🙂

In Spain, the food is a huge part of culture and a way of life.  I’ve never heard of anyone valuing meal time more than the Spaniards do.   First, “Desayuno” (breakfast):  Generally, breakfast consists of either coffee—which is incredible here!—or juice, and a small croissant or piece of fruit.  Since it’s so small, you wouldn’t think it would be a big deal to skip it.  However, if you do, you find yourself starving until lunch time.  Not to mention, it also doesn’t please your host parents very much.  I was in a rush to get to class last week and didn’t have time to eat.  A mistake, because when I returned home, mi madre was very concerned about why I had skipped a meal (she’s always very worried I’m not getting enough to eat!).

Second, and most important, is “Comida” (lunch):  This meal is eaten generally between 2 and 3 pm and is the largest meal of the day.  It is not uncommon to invite over other family members to enjoy the meal together.  What’s to eat?  9 times out of 10, jamón. It’s not exactly the ham in the States, either.  Instead, it’s more of a cured ham, which looks and feels a bit like jerky.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty good, but I eat it nearly every day.  Also, since Alicante is situated right along the Mediterranean Coast, there is a lot of seafood here as well, or “mariscos”.  Some of it I like, and others not so much.  Usually I love shrimp, but here the “gambas” are served in their shell, head, legs, and all.  It takes a little getting used to.  Other common types of food for comida include bocadillos (subs), paella (rice with veggies, chicken, or seafood), huevos (eggs), or some type of pasta.    Then afterwards, it’s also very typical to have a piece of fruit—much healthier than the usual “postre” or dessert.

Next, “Cena” (dinner):  Cena is served between 9 and 10pm in the evening—pretty late!  However, it is an extremely light meal.  Besides, Spaniards seem to hardly sleep anyway, so it’s not as if they are eating right before bedtime.  Generally for dinner my family serves salad, despacho (a cold tomato soup, delicious!), or a small bocadillo.

Lastly, “postres” (desserts):  Dessert here is generally, well, healthier.  Much like comida, a piece of fruit is eaten after cena.  However, in restaurants there are choices such as coffee, flan, helado (ice cream, which here is much more like gelato, yum!), or some type of tart.  Since I rarely eat out, I’ve been sticking to the fruit—which is great, but I do have a bit of a sweet tooth.  Luckily, one night out I was able to come across a Spanish favorite:  Chocolate caliente con churros!  The hot chocolate here isn’t at all close to what it is in the States.  In fact, it’s a million times better.  It is very rich, and has the consistency of fondue, which is perfect for dipping churros!  If you ever come to Spain, I highly recommend trying this wonderful delicacy—it certainly gave me the chocolate fix I was looking for.

All in all, the food here is great, but there are times where I get a craving for a waffles, Reese’s, or some honey barbeque wings from BDubs.  I never thought I would “crave” American food—especially after only two weeks—but I suppose it happens when nothing at all is similar to what you’re used to eating.  However, I do like that I have been introduced to so many new and different types of foods, and I’m willing to try anything!

Well, that’s all for now.  Next week, we will take a glimpse into what it’s like to live with a Spanish family!

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