- Typical Spanish... Regional Spanish dances
- Featured City... Seville and the Holy Week
- Famous Person... Miguel Induráin
- Spanish recipe... "El pisto"
- Popular Sayiing... “Ir por lana y salir trasquilado”
- Vocabulary... Campo semántico de los sonidos
- Word of the month... “Desembuchar”
Spain may be a small country, but it’s big in languages. Our country has a wealth of different languages – most of them rooted in Latin (except Basque, but its origins are still a subject of debate) and most of them considered co-official, along with Castilian, in their respective Communities. Let’s have a look:
Catalan: It’s spoken in Catalonia, although it’s currently being debated whether the Balearic Islands and Valencia speak variations on it or completely different languages.
Galician: Some people might think this northern language sounds similar to Portuguese – and that’s a very reasonable conclusion. Both Galician and Portuguese share an important historical link – the former was the only written language throughout the peninsula in during the Middle Ages, since it was used by troubadours to write their poetry. Funnily enough, some regions in Extremadura still speak a similar language called Fala, commonly considered a variation of Galician.
Euskera: Spoken in the Basque Country and parts of Navarra, its origins are still unclear: it’s been attributed Aquitaine, Caucasian and even Berber ascent. In 1918, the very different dialects of the Basque Country were culturally and institutionally unified into a single language called “euskera batúa” (“unified euskera”).
Aranese: Co-official language at the Vall d’Aran (a region between Aragon and Catalonia), it’s of Occitan ascent. Even though in the old days it was restricted to said region, nowadays it can be heard spoken all over Catalonia.
Besides these, there are some unofficial languages, currently considered to be “in danger of extinction” like the Astur-Leonese (spoken in the areas between Asturias and León), or the Aragonese (from Aragon and parts of Valencia). There are as well several dialectal variations of Castillian, such as the Andalusian and the Canarian talks, the Castúo (from Extremadura), the variations spoken in Murcia, the so-called “transition” languages (which borrow elements from different languages) like Cantabrian, somewhere between Astur-Leonese and Castillian, or the Eonavian (which combines Galician and Astur-Leonese).
We shouldn’t forget other languages such as Arabic, spoken in Ceuta and Melilla, or Roman, spoken by the gypsy community.This collection of languages make Spain a complex cultural tapestry, which proves a union is much more than the sum of its parts
Pamplona might be among the last cities that come to mind when deciding where to spend the Carnival season. This old city, many think, only celebrates the running of the bulls at the Sanfermines, but they’d be wrong. Their Carnival is also a remarkably distinctive fiesta.
Several organizations have long been reviving the old Carnival traditions, which date back to the Middle Ages. One of these is the “Día de los Caldereros”, which takes places the Saturday before the Carnival itself, traditionally celebrated on a Tuesday. Many associations dress up with picturesque costumes and dance through the streets of the city. Among them we can find the zaldikos, who pretend to be riders on a horse and chase the children; the cíngaros, who evoke the gypsies who’d turn up in Pamplona soon before Lent in order to sell their products; and the colorful gigantes or giants, who represent nobility with their height.
The most striking tradition, however, is the one involving the Mari Trapu – a foul doll filled with clothes and rags, which is placed in the oldest part of the city (known as the casco antiguo) on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and then burnt. As it is placed, the opening speech tells her story: She represents a witch who led the Frank (franco) army to ransack parts of the city in the 12th century.
Pamplona is a city where old traditions are vindicated and where the Carnival is starting to gain prominence between the inescapable settings for these festive days.It would have been a pity for these habits to disappear into oblivion: there were once ancient bans that almost did away with the Carnival traditions in certain areas of Spain. But these are now a thing of the past. There’s a fair amount of people who want to back to the old ways, to celebrate days of no diffidence. It should do us all some good
It’s been said she couldn’t sing nor dance, but also that she didn’t need to. She was called “The whirlwind of color”, she, “la Flores”, yet she will forever remain “la Lola”… Here she is now: the very Faraona.
[The above is a literal translation. The text is supposed to rhyme. Here, for amusement purposes only, is my humble crack at it.]
It´s been said she couldn’t sing nor dance, but she didn’t need that to entrance. She was called “The colored bodice”, she, “la Flores”. Yet she will forever remain “la Lola”… Here she is now: the very Faraona.
Born in Jerez de la Frontera (Andalusia) in 1923, María Dolores Flores Ruiz (such was her real name) came to the world with the magic of a spell. At 12, she was swinging from tablao to tablao, roaring the tunes of the great dames of flamenco at the time – Estrellita Castro, Concha Piquer among them. Her professional debut came at age 16, at the Teatro Villamarta de Jerez. A year later, she was already playing a gypsy (in fact, plenty of people assume she’s one, when she isn’t) in a movie called Martingala.
Already a young star with her own company at a very young age, in the 1940’s she starred in a flamenco show alongside a then-famous star called Manolo Caracol. The two would remain professionally linked for a long time – they shot a great variety of movies together, which made Lola a star in Mexico. One of them “La Faraona” (1955) would earn her one her most common nickname. Her professional success was soon met with personal happiness: in 1958 she tied the knot with Catalonian singer-guitarist Antonio González “El Pescadilla”. In May, 1959, she gave birth to Lolita, her first daughter, followed by Antonio, in 1961 and Rosario in 1963.
By then, Lola had already become an international star. She even made it to the Madison Square Garden in New York – a performance best remembered by a striking review in which an American journalist pitched, “She can’t sing, she can’t dance, don’t miss it!” Lola worked in countless movies and shows all the way to the mid-1970s.
The 80’s, however, were described by the “Faraona” herself as a “time of bad omens.” Spain longed to peel off the racial image of “the flamenco country” (it was about the time it joined the European Union), Lola was prosecuted for tax offences, her mother died and her son Antonio developed a drug addiction. However, she overcame all this thanks to a format she had never tried before: television.
In the 90’s she played roles in a number of TV series, which would lead her to host her own variety show along with her daughter Lolita. The enterprise would be short-lived. The show had to be cancelled for medical reasons – Lola was suffering from an ailment which turned out to be breast cancer.In 1995, “Lola de España” said “adiós” to the world of the living, but, she said “hola” to the world of the legends
This simple soup is also a typical recipe for this cold season where we should keep both our stomach and our body warm. Little by little, it has become one of the most popular casseroles during Easter, especially in the inner areas of the Iberian Peninsula. No garlic soup should be bereft of oil, stale peasant bread, garlic (slightly fried) and, obviously the stock. Variations on this abound, depending on way and the place where it’s cooked. Here are some of them:
Castillian and Aragonese: Considered by some the most complete, they include paprika (a red spice obtained from dry peppers), raw eggs (which are boiled in the clear soup) and sometimes ham.
Leonese: It differs from the previous recipes in the fact that the stale bread is added after cooking, and not during.
Soriana: While similar to the aforementioned recipe, it includes mushrooms as an extra ingredient.
Segoviana: Expands on the Castillian recipe by adding a touch of cumin.
Mallorquina: It’s considered one of the strongest-tasting kinds since it adds onion and berza (a kind of vegetable with fleshy leaves, like cabbage).
Riojana: This alternative includes tomato. As does, sometimes, the Basque variation – except that one doesn’t use paprika.
Navarra: Doesn’t use paprika either. Instead, it’s made with choricero pepper (an entire, dried pepper).
Andalusian: One might argue it’s one of the most revolutionaries, since a cauliflower is first boiled in the stock. Some coastal areas throw in some fish as well.As all these kinds evidence, the garlic soup is a very popular dish in Spain. Each household probably has its own version. There are a fair deal of grandmothers out there who will confess to making their soup with whatever they have at hand!.
“Sarna con gusto no pica”. With this proverb we are referring to a thankless task we don’t mind carrying out because we either know will bring a reward or simply because we take joy from it and don’t care about the consequences. Like kissing our beloved even though he or she may have the flu.
By “sarna” this proverb doesn’t refer to those parasites in our skin that cause dreadful and annoying itches, known in English as “scabies” or “crabs”. We assume nobody enjoys this happening to him or her, but if we accept the hypothetical case of somebody somehow enjoying the scabies, we must also assume that those itches wouldn’t feel like a punishment to that person.It may sound slightly masochistic but that’s just the way we Spaniards are: even in sickness we look for a silver lining
There is nothing better to get a conversation started than bringing the weather up. However, meteorology goes beyond sunny, cloudy and rainy. We’d like to show you a few terms here so that, besides understanding your neighbor, you will also understand the weather girl or man:
- Anticyclone: It’s an area of high atmospheric pressure where the air remains stable. It causes unfluctuating weather and prevents rainfalls.
- Squall: An area of low atmospheric pressure, this is the complete opposite to the anticyclone. It causes a fluctuating weather as well as rain and/or snowfalls.
- Climate: State of a given region’s meteorological elements over a long period of time.
- Cyclon: Atmospheric disturbance characterized by strong winds.
- Heavy Shower: Dark, humid storm cloud which turns up suddenly and, pushed by a strong wind, may lead up to either water or wind.
- Hail: Frozen water that comes off the cloud and then falls heavily onto the earth surface shaped as a lump of ice. It is known, in some regions, as “pedrisco”.
- Mist: Low cloud which hinders the ability to see clearly.
- Drizzle: Forceless fall of miniscule raindrops.
- Heat Wave: Days- or weeks-long increase in temperature in the air of an extensive area.
- Flash of lightning: Flash produced by electric discharges found in the clouds. Not to be confused with the discharge itself, referred to as “bolt”.
- Dew: Water that’s been condensed on objects on account of a sudden change in temperature.
- Weather vane: An instrument for showing the direction of the wind.
“Desembuchar”. It’s not uncommon to hear this verb in movies with policemen in them. If a detective wants to force a testimony or confession out of a suspect, he’ll usually thump the table with his fist and yell, “¡Venga, desembucha!” We can safely infer from such a scene that the verb is the Spanish rough equivalent of “Spill the beans.”
The word would at first refer to a process certain birds would go through to feed their chicks by regurgitating food in their crop. Anyone who’s seen nature shows on TV will know what we mean: it almost seems as though the bird has difficulties to push the food out.And just like them, a person might find it hard to “desembuchar”, let a secret or a testimony out. That’s why nowadays the verb also means “to spill the beans”, in the exact same informal way. That way, you will never see a prestigious lawyer ever tell the defendant, “Where were you the day the victim’s jewel was removed from his apartment? ¡Desembuche!”