2014 Spring Ani Soghomonian Temple in Spain

A Taste of Culture

Cathedral in Oviedo

This past weekend, I was trying to recover from a cold, so I decided to stay local and spend some more time with my host family. I’m happy I stayed because I got to know some traditions of Oviedo better. On Saturday, I spent a good amount of the day cooking two different meals with my host mom. The first thing I told her when I got to Oviedo was, “I want to learn how to cook!” So there we were. First, we cooked tortilla, which in Spain is not the thin flatbread that we call tortilla in the United States. Tortilla is finely chopped potatoes and onions mixed into beaten eggs, and then fried. It is so simple and delicious that I might even be able to cook it on my own!…big statement. Next, we made fritos, which is made by chopping up apples and putting them into a homemade batter. After that, you fry it. It’s an easy way to a healthy, tasty fruit into a delightful, less healthy pastry! You can make these with anything inside, not just apples! Mariluz is very particular about the way she does things, so it was a little nerve-wracking as she was watching me put the batter into the scorching hot pan of oil. But I got through it and enjoyed it with the family later.  Not only did I learn how to make these foods, but it gave me a chance to improve my vocabulary. She would give me instructions and ask me to get things out of the refrigerator for her, and if I didn’t know what she was asking me for, she would help me out.

Tortilla and Fritos
When I first started living here with my host parents (it’ll be a month this Saturday!?), I found that it was really difficult to understand my host dad, José, and my host sister. I really thought that after a few weeks, I’d get used to the way they speak, but I still don’t feel like I can understand them that well. This is not so much because of a language barrier, but because of the way they speak. For a native speaker, it’s probably not a problem to understand them. But when I ask them to repeat themselves, they speak the same way. This is one thing that is really challenging for me right now. I want to join their conversations, but sometimes I just have no idea what they are even talking about. Asking “what?” after every sentence gets old really fast–for everyone involved. But, I know that I need to put thoughts like that aside and remind myself that the only way I’m going to learn is if I keep asking. I don’t have as many problems understanding my host mom, unless it is a vocabulary issue, because she speaks more clearly. I’m still hopeful that this aspect of communication will improve.

Mercado del Fontán,
Outside of the house, my friend and I went to Mercado del Fontán, which is an outdoor market here in Oviedo that is set up every Sunday. It has practically anything you would want and more! They sell clothing and shoes (some used, some new), fresh flowers, antiques, books, and toys…just to name a few. I’ve been told that there is also a section where they sell fresh foods and produce, but we must have missed that part. There will be plenty of opportunities to go back and scope it out, though. The streets were overwhelmingly packed with people trying to bargain and snatch some good deals. I aspire to be able to successfully bargain in Spanish…maybe one day. You could spend hours looking around, but I mainly just wanted to go and see what it was all about since it is something that I have learned about in my society and culture class.

There is a lot to look forward to later this week, including our second dinner with Jaime, and a trip to Galicia! More to come in a few days:)

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