Student News

Spain #9: Culinary Culture

Christina Kopp – June 15, 2016

Margaret Muir ’18 considers some of the culinary and cultural differences between Spain and the U.S.: 

Before we arrived in Granada, my classmates and I had been informed of the general schedule here: eat breakfast with the family, go to school, come home for a big lunch and maybe a siesta, go back out for group activities such as classes in artisanry or flamenco, and finally return home for a smaller dinner.  We had a general idea of the cultural differences in the diets in Spain and in the U.S., and to us it seemed like something of a novelty to eat our largest meal of the day for lunch and then to take a nap.

What we didn’t really think about was why this was the case. Around the time when we eat lunch, it can be 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit or more outside, and there isn’t much one can do in the heat. María, one of the artisans who has been teaching some of my classmates and me how to make bracelets and other objects from leather, explained to me that people work in the morning and late at night during the hottest days of summer here. They spend the afternoon indoors, out of the intense heat, and eat dinner much later because they spend the evenings working. Thus, it is more practical, as well as healthier, to eat the main meal of the day during the afternoon, and eat a smaller meal at the end of the day. It has been fascinating to learn about the practical reasons behind the differences in American and Spanish lifestyles.

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Students had the opportunity to make tagine, a North African dish named for the clay pot in which it is cooked that has become an important part of Southern Spain’s culinary culture.
Photo Credit: Ellie McDonald

The tagine before being cooked  Photo Credit: Ellie McDonald

The tagine before being cooked
Photo Credit: Ellie McDonald

Putting the final touches on the tagine  Photo Credit: Ellie McDonald

Putting the final touches on the tagine
Photo Credit: Ellie McDonald

As someone who particularly appreciates food, I have also immensely enjoyed partaking in the Spanish diet. Bread, seafood, and various vegetables seem more common here than in my diet at home. Dessert also seems to be fruit much more often than baked goods. We had all heard before coming to Granada that the Mediterranean diet was healthy, but one thing that I have been glad to learn is that it is also delicious. I have tasted and enjoyed typical Spanish dishes such as paella, gazpacho, and other purees. I look forward to learning more about the Spanish culture and tasting more delicious food!”

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An evening picnic with the host families allowed students to try many different Spanish dishes.
Photo Credit: Talha Tariq