Fatim Byrd Temple in Spain

Asturias: Thoughts concerning itself and its food.

In a previous post, I stated how I enjoyed and loved the food. That is true to a certain extent. The diet here in Asturias is primarily meat with little to no serving of vegetables. When there are vegetables, the nutrients are boiled out of them to the point where the vegetable is no longer green. This may also be true for the other 16 provinces of Spain.  One has to gain an acquired taste for the food in Asturias. It’s primarily globs and globs of meat, of which can taste good or bad depending on the chef. I have a good cook this go round, but even sometimes the taste seems to be beyond my comprehension or below my standards of taste.

But even in this sea of uncertainty between my taste buds and the food of Asturias, four things are still clear: The coffee is great, it’s a sin that the United States doesn’t have Churros, Croquetas are the best food in Spain and Chorizo seems disgusting. However, Taste is a very subjective thing. With that said, it’s no surprise that while I despise it, many other people like it. So please don´t allow my limited views affect your decision about whether it is good or not.

Its common knowledge in Asturias that Asturians believe their food to be the best of Spain. You could ask anyone here and it seems that they will tell you that–or at least the older Spaniards will. My last host family would call fabadas, the best food in Spain. I hear the same stories retold by friends of mine here whom have host families as well. Even with the most disheartening aspects of Spanish food, there are pockets of relief. I have found several places that make food worth eating in Spain: Doner Kabob and Crepes. There is something amazing about tons of shredded chicken in a bread wrap with lechuga and tomate. It’s an amazing thing that they have going on over there.

With a month of experience (not including my time in the summer), I think that I am beginning to become accustomed to living here. The people are extremely interesting and the common man is not an idiot it seems. In the United States, it seems like it isn´t common knowledge that corporations or special interests (whatever you want to call them) determine every single decision in the government. Common knowledge here is that Pais Vasco doesn´t want to be a part of Spain. If the same situation was happening in the United States, I doubt the common man would understand the depth of what that means for a country who is trying to establish national identity in each state. Even the conversations that I hear amongst my host family is never something mundane.  There is always great thought and meaning behind their discussions.

One of the most interesting topics is Franco, their dictator for about 30 or 40 years. He is one of the most interesting figures in Spanish History. I always wondered how the average person views him here. A night ago, I was blessed with that opportunity.We talked about how he was funded by Hitler, and even talked about how he may have been worse than Hitler. Like Hitler, he killed millions of people in short amounts of time. And he even had concentration camps. My host dad frankly called Franco a dictator. I would not have been surprised to hear a sort of defense for Franco. From what my professor and other Spaniards tell me, Franco can sometimes be seen as a good leader. Even though he was a tyrant, he established stability and an identity for a country who was trying to find (and in my opinion still is) a national identity. So yes, while he may have done that, a good leader to me has to be virtuous. In other words, a good leader should be able to lead without killing other groups. A good leader should be able to have tolerance for opposite ideologies and ultimately not be a former soldier, who at most times tries to lead a country like an army and could possibly have symptoms of PTSD.

Anyways, Asturias has been kind to me. The language is becoming almost first nature to me. I get tons and tons of compliments from my host family about how my spanish is improving. It feels good to be able to have an environment where I can actively practice my spanish. There is almost no place in the United States where I would have been able to do that without interruption. I am able to read signs with no problem, and I can understand side conversations much easier as well. These seem to be signs that my language skills are improving.

My schedule here is basically from Monday to Friday, I go to class at 9, 10, 11 am and come home at 2pm. I eat lunch at about 2 or 3pm and then I go play basketball andor soccer until about 7 pm or 8 pm. The way that they play basketball here is hilarious. For one, before I said anything about it, they would never check the ball. It’s a really awkward thing when someone picks up the basketball and starts playing without regard for whether the other person is ready. Also, the amount of time that they call a foul is a little excessive. I can understand a clear slap on the hand or shove while going to the basket, but slight touch on the back or a graze of the fingers is a foul here. Soft is the word we describe for a person who constantly calls fouls.  Even the shoot around is different, when someone makes a shot, usually it’s a common courtesy that they get the ball back. Here, you shoot and whether it goes in or not, you may or may not get it. This experience instigates another feeling of awkwardness or blank staring into space for me. Ultimately, I have figured out that they play basketball like they play soccer, quick and up-tempo with fouls called almost all the time.  As for the rest of my schedule, depending on whether its a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, I leave after I eat dinner and meet up with friends for sidra or wine. So my day is really packed with things to do. The classes are really easy, it almost seems like review for me.

Today I am going to Brusellas, Belgium. I have never been there and my main reason going there is to eat some Belgium chocolate and eat some waffles. It should be an interesting experience.


  1. great post Fatim! I have to disagree about the food thing, I have loved about 90% of the things I’ve eaten, that includes liver and pulpo 😛 I’m a little sad that you called Doner kebap good food!! hahahahaha.

  2. Hi Fatim — not to worry, Bar Ferdinand in Northern Liberties has churros — they’re probably not as good as the ones in Oviedo, but I love them!

  3. I love it byrd gave a great picture on why you couldn’t win a game hahaha. When you come to visit us I found this place that sells really good churros n for only $1.

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