Chipiona

Sitting at a table along the ‘Walking Street’ in Chipiona and people watching with a glass of wine is one of my favorite things to do. Today I am substituting water for wine because I’ve decided to cut out alcohol for a while. Wine, you are missed.

Sitting at a table along the ‘Walking Street’ in Chipiona and people watching with a glass of wine is one of my favorite things to do. Today I am substituting water for wine because I’ve decided to cut out alcohol for a while. Wine, you are missed.

I love listening to languages, the cadence of it and how it changes with different ages and experiences. I love seeing the colorful clothes people wear here. Especially the women and their printed pants! I really have to adapt my clothing style a bit because looking at them makes me smile. Who doesn’t need a little more color in their life? I am also constantly inspired to take photos of random people with amazing faces, and yet some times I fear I might scare them a tad… So I ‘try’ not to. 😉

While people watching I like to think about what kind of lives they lead, are they happy?, Are they fulfilled? And through observation thus far, I would say that the Spanish people are, although in an economic crisis, very happy, loving and sharing people. They break every day from 2pm to 4pm (sometimes 6pm) for siesta. They literally shut almost everything down to take a break from their day and enjoy their families and friends. Hope you’re not hungry during that time, which you inevitably will be, because you won’t find much to eat! Andrew and I have been lucky enough to be invited to a family’s restaurant for siesta where they just feed you wine and cheese and jamon (Don’t even get me started on how delicious and non-Paleo that is. One can’t be impolite right?). They want you to be a part of their family, and you feel like you are. Courtney is not a name easily pronounced here in Spain, it comes out like ‘corney, yes like at our wedding. Not unusual for me, I was teased with that name in middle school. So I usually go by Carolina. It’s easier. But again, I love language, and the people speaking it. Despite the major language barrier, conversation is had while enjoying a meal and taking a break from life. Now, this would never happen in the United States. Not only do we not tolerate people who don’t speak English, (a shame, truly) we work in order to live and survive. We have to, it’s how we are programmed and how our society runs. But it makes me wonder… Even if we could just take, say 30 minutes a day to breathe, just stop and breathe, would we? Could we? Could YOU? We most likely would go take care of things that we didn’t think we had the time to do that day and rush along, pushing through crowds, not paying attention to anyone but ourselves. It’s what we do. Being in Spain is really eye opening. Have you ever had a complete stranger just say, hey, it’s siesta, we were chatting over a glass of Moscato, come enjoy dinner with my family and friends! Or, women. Have you ever had a woman walk up to you and say: “Muy guapa!” What woman do you know, that is a random stranger that will just tell you and your friends that you’re pretty? Even on your worst day?! Not many. Well they do that here.

My favorite thing thus far is how everyone gets two kisses, one on each cheek when you meet. Not just the first time, but every time you see each other. I love how unafraid people are of personal ‘bubbles’ here. I know this is not easy for everyone, and some times it does feel awkward, but that is a whole other blog of personal introspection that I am not going to write. However if it concerns you, you should. I’d love to read it. 😉 The idea isn’t new to me, thank you Andy in England! 😉 But I have become so accustomed to it, it feels strange not to… Be warned family! You’re getting kissed!

I also love how family oriented Spain is. In America our kids go to bed at a certain time because it is appropriate. It would be completely untoward to allow your kids to be out late with you. We would instantly be labeled as careless parents. They need a good nights sleep for the next day. Or, suppose, you and your partner want to go on a date, you must find a sitter. Here in España, the kids are always included. The entire family unit here is so inspiring. I was sitting at a coffee shop recently and this elderly woman had her daughters baby in a pram and I commented how beautiful she was. The women plucked her up and handed her to me. Me! A complete stranger! Here! See for yourself how amazing my family is! Hold her. Love her. And I did. She was particularly sweet and very calm in the arms of one who has no kids. Spain is amazing in just that way. Yes, sometimes the kids are our until 4am! GASP! But guess what, the whole family is out, no one is belligerent or falling on the floor, they are enjoying their time amongst themselves and friends at a carnival, or some other festivity. Together. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t hurt that everyone had a 2-4 hour siesta in the middle of the day. 😉 But let me tell you, those kids are happy and experiencing things that they will forever be able to keep in their memories. Being exposed to so many great people and adventures. Now of course this doesn’t happen every night, or most nights, but I love that the family here does everything together. Obviously there is a need for some alone time between adults. I am not suggesting that we, as Americans, have it all wrong, but I love how much more relaxed it is here. People truly relish in their families. As do Americans, but we tend to put up a barrier here and there with the subject. Adults do this, kids do that. And I feel that sometimes it causes strain on not only the individual but the family too. It is a lot to digest and even more to put into action. But it may be worth your while to take a little more time with your family today.

So as I sit here intending to write about my most recent recipes, with little bodega dogs running around my table begging for food, cigarette smoke swirling around my head and the evening sun hitting my back, I first want to encourage you to take a siesta. For you, for your family, and just enjoy even the smallest part of your day. Smile, even if only to yourself for your own personal reasons. Smile yet? Alright, good.

Last night I was thinking a bit about the Spanish lifestyle and I have a few fun observations thus far… In no particular order:

1. Most of the Spanish have an affinity for Cafe con Leche and cigarettes. You’re not Spanish unless you have both of those multiple times a day. Neither appeals to me, but I do love their conviction in stirring their tiny cups of Jo for a few minutes… It is a lot of stirring. I can’t help but count how long they do it sometimes. Yes, you are correct in your thinking, I am a tad OCD. Must there be SO MUCH STIRRING?! 😉

2. If you have babies en España, you have the most amazing ‘strollers.’ They are not like the strollers in the US, plastic and bulky. Instead they are classic prams with little beautifully constructed umbrellas to shield their precious skin from the sun. Adorable and classy. Really classy. These are of the era of Audrey and Dorris. Be still my heart.

3. Lottery. I have no qualms with this one. When I was in Brazil there were physical buildings dedicated to selling lottery tickets. And there are in Spain as well. People walk around selling it everywhere! So much Lotto. I wonder if I’m allowed to play? 😉

4. Churros. Mi amigo Jose at Cafeteria Churros Chocolates, en Chipiona, makes them! Such a sweet young man. Yes, delicious churros. They smell amazing, but I swear it’s a food group here! I’m down for a few but then I feel like I’m just eating oil after a while. When you order churros your option is “1 kilo or 2?” What?! A Kilo is 2.2lbs! Do you want them small or large?! What?! They don’t come in once size? Can’t I just have one stick? You know, like at Costco? Nope, here’s a bag. Enjoy. Well my recommendation is not to enjoy all of that. 😉

The churro place is my go to spot. Most times when I come into this place, because it is around the corner from my house, and a way to get out in public for me, they always have a little something for me. A book (in Spanish) on Chipiona tourism, a poster of the local event, or even just news on the upcoming concerts, events happening in this beautifully sleepy town. How does one get so lucky? One time I left with a fresh bushel of Basil and instructions on how to use it. 😉 I love it here!

5. Snails are not just for the fancy. Escargo, no. Caracoles… Little tiny snails that I have yet to attempt. I know, I know, I write about food, well not as much as I should! But this one I can’t quite wrap my brain around. They are only seasonal, so I will have to do it soon as my time here is limited. But for today I will just tell you, they are everywhere! I just asked a few people what they think of them… it was a hesitant ‘eh’. Meaning they will eat them, but… really?? Hence my hesitation!

All of this food talk brings me to my main goal for today, food in Spain. I was so excited to come here and try new foods! I wanted to be inspired and somehow incorporate them into my blog, or if I really loved something, attempt to make a Paleo/Primal version of it. I have to say, that in Spain there are few food items that I like. Sorry España. I don’t want to be insulting and in truth, I haven’t been to northern Spain yet, where I hear things are very different. But so far in southern Spain, most things are fried, and/or served with fries. Don’t get me wrong, one of my weaknesses IS fries. They are so delicious. Then there is pizza, McDonalds and Burger King… No thank you. America, really? Must we attempt global domination through Franken-food?

In an attempt to try something new, I went to lunch with some gal pals in Sanlucar the other day and I wanted to order their grilled chicken with a side of veggies, but no. They were ‘out’ of those particular vegetables. Mind you, Chipiona and Sanlucar are known for the massive amounts of vegetables they grow! It is quite rural here. So I asked if they had another set of veggies. Nope, out. And yet, my girlfriends could order salads/fried dishes that had peppers, onions, lettuce etc. in them, but it was smothered in some sort of mayonnaise sauce. So you can get veggies, but they have to be covered in goop. I find it incredibly difficult to eat out here in Spain without having the temptation of delicious sin in front of you.

That being said, there are a few things that I love, despite whether or not I should!

1. Rabbit! There is a place here in Chipiona on the boardwalk overlooking the sea, called Bar Toro. Andrew and I found this place when starving during siesta in winter because they were the only place open. The owners Javier, and Maria were amazingly sweet and patient with our Spanish! Their kids are adorable, little Javi even made me a bracelet which I still have. When I wasn’t sure what I wanted to eat, Javier suggested Rabbit. The suggestion was funny because I didn’t know the word for rabbit in Spanish (conejo) so he made bunny ears on his head with his fingers which made me giggle. Him too. I appreciated the gesture more than he knows. I had never eaten rabbit so, why not? Different than snails in my mind ;). The rabbit melted in my mouth. Andrew and I were in love. In love with each other and the rabbit. We asked if he had cooked it all day. It must have been in a crockpot for hours! No, he cooked the entire thing right then. I have NEVER had such a delicious treat. Served on fries, of course. Javier also makes delicious clams!

Rabbit
 
 
 Clams

2. Jamon Iberica, which is just a treat in itself, especially on some bread with amazing cheese. Paleo? No. But sometimes you just need to enjoy the culture right? Right?! When I arrived en España I just ate everything. Not necessarily good for weight or health. But It was an experience.

Jamón Iberica

Have I made you hungry yet? Probably not, I don’t have a gift for descriptions like my husband, but I did want to post a couple new recipes I’ve tried, adapted and really enjoyed! So let’s do it. I recently received my new favorite cookbook! And no, it’s not Paleo. I have loved this woman’s blog for years. Impressed and jealous all at the same time, I hope to some day be as ambitious, creative and talented as Deb Perelman! Her blog is www.smittenkitchen.com and it is phenomenal!

The Book!

I was Skyping with my husband, (FINALLY!) who is currently deployed, as I was going through it. I couldn’t see him via Skype, though he could me, and I was practically drooling over the pages, sorry honey, and planning what I wanted to cook that night! After siesta had ended I went to the carneceria and the fruteria to get some goodies. And boy did I love just putting on some music (Ani DeFranco, Jewel, and Erykah Badu to be more specific) and cooking!

On the Menu:
Leek Fritters with a Lemon and Garlic Sauce

Broccoli Rabe Panini with Mozzarella

 

YUM!

Don’t forget to take time for yourself today, even if only to Smile. You know what happiness is to you. So go get it.
XOX,

Courtney

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