You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Francisco Answers’ category.
What a question… On one side, it is great to find out about the interest on our habits. But… Oh boy, what a question…
Where to start… I guess we have a million typical habits. I would like to mention a few, but I would rather like to ask all of you back. PLEASE, help me out and leave your comments with what you think are the most typical habits of Spaniards.
TALKING: First and probably most descriptive: We have the habit of talking, talking and talking. When we don’t, we laugh and sing loud all the time. The best of all, is that we have the habit of doing it all at the same time. When we are less happy about something, you get the same effect on the opposite: we discuss and complaint
TIMING: We come late everywhere. Actually live late: Lunch late, dinner late, go out late… I guess you could talk about our “Late Back Mentality”
SOCCER: We watch soccer, talk about soccer, live soccer, love soccer. There is only one country in the world with more national soccer team coaches than Spain. It is Italy, and simply because it has a few more inhabitants.
PLAY ON WORDS: We have the habit of playing ith words constantly. make jokes about everything and invent double meanings and having 15 different words for everything.
A MILLION LITTLE THINGS: We also have a lot of small little habits that are very deeply anchored in ourselves. Such as listening to music everywhere and everytime, putting olive oil on everything (its healty and we love it), or parking in a “touchy” style. We call it to park “of hearing” (guess that is why they build car-bumpers and actually call them that way).
EXAGERATING: Last but not least, we have the habit of exagerating. We love to exagerate. It is our passion. We live for it. We can’t breathe without it. Day and night and night and day. 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, again and again, nonstop! Well, maybe I am exagerating a bit now.
But if there is a habit that would really describe us is the one of opening a bottle of red wine, sharing it with friends and talking for hours after lunch or dinner. You know what? I think I will grab a bottle of “The Spanish Quarter” Cabernet-Tempranillo and walk over to the neighbours, see if they want to join a discussion about why we love being so “Late Back”…
quite a touchy topic. But one that tends to generate frequent questions. It is a tough job to answer, but I guess I got into this position all by myself, when I opened the door for you guys to ask “Anything you want to know about Spain”…
To the point
First of all Barcelona is part of Cataluña and part of Spain. This is a political and legal fact. Period.
If that is the case, you wonder, why the heck is it at all being discussed. Well, first of all, because we like discussions. We love them, we need them. It is part of our culture and who we are. Secondly, and most important, because a large number of folks in this beautiful region in the northeast of Spain, think and feel that Cataluña should be independent. And I guess we all agree, that democracy is quite a helpful invention, despite greek…
You must accept that it is a daring step from me to actually threaten you with “History”. BUT, see if you enjoy this more free interpretation of it… Ah! And I promise there is a bottom line.
Gosh, wonder where to start… After 700 years of muslim ocupation, Spain finally had managed to fight back its independency. The famous Catholic Kings held most of the country together. By the way, these are the same kings that sponsored Columbus’ discovery of America and that are therefore -very indirectly- responsible for watergate and the superbowl.
Cataluña kept a certain independence. It was never very monarchic, nor very keen on being included in the rest of the big Spanish party. But that independence did not held long. Roughly until 1700, where the Secession War in Spain ended with the Bourbon Crown Family as imposed kings of the whole country. It would have been easy to simpathise with such a great branded family, but… Somehow I recon that the problem started right there . This is …
… a very personal theory built on thin ice …
Catalonia is a wine region. You probably know that by know, since our shared loyal sympathy for “The Spanish Quarter“, our favourite Spanish wine, whose winery is in the heart of Cataluña. Nevermind. I truly believe, that the root cause for the opposition to monarchy was a perceived brand conflict. “We are a wine nation“, the Catalonians thought, “We can not swear trust and loyalty to no Bourbon“. I personally have nothing against Bourbon. “Jack and Ginger” tastes like candy and sounds like a lovesong. A good combination once in a while. But let’s face it, a good “Cabernet-Tempranillo” just does the better job…
Maybe Catalonians were too susceptible. Maybe they made too big of a deal out of a conflict originated in the choice for the right drink. But I guess history took its path and here is where we landed…
No, don’t worry. Just kiddin’, I won’t go there. Trust should be honored, not abused. And as you might know, I hate politics anyways.
I think the best part of this whole story lies the process itself. God, we love to discuss and debate. So the best thing that can happen, is for neither “side” to win, but for the discussion to keep going forever. It is a bit like our beloved “Sagrada Familia“, Gaudi’s unfinished master piece. Probably the most spectacular and one of the best known Cathedrals in the world. Under construction since almost 100 years. Scheduled to be finished in 1926, but still far from being finished. We might never finish it. But -again here- we enjoy the process. That’s the fun, isn’t it?
So why don’t we leave it there for today, and get back to where we started, in the heart of beautiful Cataluña, close to “The Spanish Quarter” winery, with a glass of red in our hand, and some friends to start a hot discussion about this topic and my theory. What do you think?
that is a long question you must think. And you are right. I am still figuring out how to position the questions in the headline. Tips are welcome. Heck some of you really have complicated way to express your doubts and questions… But I love it.
Nevermind. To the point.
A great question that I enjoy in all its different versions. The relaxed but still intense lifestyle in Spain is indeed something that surprises foreigners a lot.
First of all: it is true. It is not a rumour.
Some of the reasons:
1) We do sleep less
2) We start to work later
3) We make more breaks
4) We need longer for most things (not always a bad thing).
Bottom line: yes, we are more relaxed.
Here comes an average day of a Spaniard living in a major city (which might be the closest it can get to American lifestyle).
7 to 8
Wake up call. Rush in the bathroom. Breakfast honours the second part of the word: fast, faster, Spanish breakfast. Most of the time it is a bite and dark coffee. It might be in your own home or downstairs in the cafetería. Nothing beats churros at that time.
8 – 9
Get to work. Bus, car, tube, train… Maybe a quick stop on the way for a coffee? If you work in a store, you start towards 9.30 or 10.
11 – 12
We take a break. Coffee, maybe churros (delicious grasy and sweet. Sort of the sinful version of doughnouts) , a fruit if you are on the healty side.
Lunch break. We go out and most often have a proper meal. And yes, we most of the time have a glass of wine with lunch. A healthy habbit if you ask me. The lucky ones manage to get home, eat, have a 30 min nap and go back to work. That is what we call “siesta”. My father did tis programm all his life. Or you do like a good friend of mine, who lived too far from work to go home, but had it quite close to his mothers place. He had the luxury of eating at mums for half his career.
16 – 19
Afternoon session. If you have a meeting, there goes the afternoon. Take it easy. Have a coffee. A “cortado” (a cut coffee), which is an expresso with a tiny bit of milk. Or have a “cafe con leche” if you are less in a hurry.
19 – 21
Go back home. Kick off your shoes. Or have a glass of wine with friends or colleagues after work. Do some shopping if need be, or if you did not get to it during lunch break. Or put your kids to bed if you have any… Or you start preparing dinner…
Dinner. We love cooking. The cocooning trend happens in Spain often in the kitchen. I call it “Cookooning”. But if there is something we love equally as much is going out for dinner. Either or, the whole procedure happens most often as of eight or nine in the evening, and goes till midnight, and is accompanied by wine and a good conversation.
What we call “sobremesa”, meaning “over-table”. We keep seated and talk talk talk. Or tell jokes or, yes, lets be honest, we watch television. At more or less midnight we go to bed. The rest is rest.
Having said all of this: We also have commuters, half day workers, single parents and all sorts of byproducts from a high speed globalized world. And yes, we are getting more and more influenced by other cultures and countries (I call it the tupperware-effect).
Maybe that is why I try to share a bit of Spain with the world. Who knows, maybe we end up saving some of the relaxed attitude. Want to give me a hand and spread the word?
Or jusy try to do it and get back to me with your feedback. In the meantime, I will finish my glass of “The Spanish Quarter” red wine and go to bed. It will soon be 1 o’clock. But don’t worry, my first meeting starts at 10. I think I will sleep in and blame it on the traffic ;-).
to be honest: this is not – in its exact formulation – among the top ten of the FAQ I get. I chose it as the first “Francisco Answers” post for a simple reason: I liked it.
First of all, I am afraid many of you have not had the pleasure of getting to know any of both “Siesta” or “Gazpacho”. A shame that we need to correct. Here come the definitions.
A cold soup made out of vegetables, most of it tomatoes. It contains also cucumber, pepers, onions, olive oil and of course garlic. I will not reveal all ingredients or details. Especially, I won’t reveal the secret recipe from my mother. Maybe in another ocassion. It is a traditional dish in Andalucía, especially popular in the long and warm summer season. Do not be surprised if you find small bits of vegetables or “croutons” (congratulations to my fellow Frenchman: They made it again, they managed to give an exquisit and unpronounceable name to a simple piece of bread cut in a cube). Find more about it in wikipedia, or even better, in a visit to Spain! Ah: don’t try to find my mothers recipe in Wikipedia. Won’t be that easy ;-)
One of our most successful panish exports. Rightly so. Also, one of the words that Spain has made universally understandable. It is a short nap (at least meant to be short ;-) in the early afternoon. As you know, we love to eat rich lunches. After a Spanish lunch, especially in many of the warmer months we enjoy, your body screams for a small rest. Give it to him! It is deserved. After all, you need to digest, realax and get ready for the rest of the day. Take a nap and then sip a “cafe cortado” (Please remind me that we need to talk about coffee on a separate post). Mi querida Wikipedia has a pretty good english definition of Siesta, which I recommend if you really want.
So what is the bottom line?
Quite simple. And this is one of the reasons why I liked the question: Honestly, why choose when you can have it all? Gazpacho is perfect in the summer, so is Siesta. My true recommendation is: Eat Gazpacho for lunch as a first dish. It will refresh and calm your appetite in the warm season. Have it along with a glass of “The Spanish Quarter” Chardonnay-Albariño, equally refreshing, crisp and tasteful. Once you finish lunch, have a Siesta. Make it a habit. 30 minutes. Believe me, once you start, you will love it. And pass it on! It is your mission. “Siestify” your environment a bit. Maybe this won’t help us making this a better planet, but definetly a little bit more relaxed…
I love democracy. To celebrate it, and upon popular request, I start today a new section. It is called “Francisco Answers” and will be dedicated to some of the more popular questions and topics that have received the most interest from “mis queridos amigos” (my dear friends, i.e. YOU).
I hope it is interesting to know what other people ask and find out about Spain. The idea is for the topics to be picked based on popular interest, but don’t expect it to be always like that.