In last week’s post I mentioned that instead of attending regular classes this week, students in La Casa de las Lenguas would be participating in cultural workshops. Now we’re three days in, and we have just one day left to prepare for our presentations on Friday.
Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that I signed up for the class on food. I’ve never been a picky eater, and there are few things I enjoy more than learning about (and of course eating) different types of cuisine. In the workshop, we spent one day learning about popular types of Spanish and Asturian dishes, including some things that I haven’t yet had the chance to try. Unfortunately we don’t have the facilities to cook the dishes on campus, but the class has given me some good ideas about what to order the next time I eat at one of Oviedo’s restaurants. I’ve also learned a little bit more about the history of some of the foods I’ve been eating all semester.
After describing how dishes like paella and fabada (an Asturian stew) are traditionally served, our professor explained a few theories about how tapas became a Spanish custom. One legend says that when a king ordered a drink on a windy day near the beach, the waiter brought it to him in a glass covered with a piece of cured ham (jamón ibérico) to protect it from dust and sand. The Spanish word tapa, which means “lid,” may have then been used to refer to the food covering the glass. Since we finished our lesson on Spanish cuisine, we’ve been working in groups to write recipes for some of our own cultural dishes. The exercise has been a helpful way to learn cooking terms, and I’m hoping with my new vocabulary I’ll be able to learn how to make a few Spanish dishes before I return home.
The other workshop I chose is slightly more unusual for me. I like to avoid choreographed dancing in public, but because studying abroad is all about trying new things, I decided to challenge myself to the dance class. For the last few days we’ve been learning merengue, originally from the Dominican Republic, and at this point I’ve learned it well enough to (kind of) keep up when the instructor is calling out the steps. Tomorrow we’ll work on the pasodoble before the presentation at the end of the week. I’m not sure how well I’ll able to perfect the dance in one day of class, but I’m excited to see a little bit of what my Society and Culture professor said is the type of music and dance that’s most typical of Spain. Luckily, the stage isn’t big enough for the whole class to perform during the presentation, so only a few volunteers (myself excluded) will be showing off their skills to the rest of La Casa de las Lenguas. It’s been a fun to try something new, but let’s just say I’m perfectly happy to keep my newfound dancing knowledge to myself.