- Typical Spanish... The compliment / Flirtatious remark (Is it a good or a bad Spanish habit?)
- Featured City... Cadiz: Horse Fair
- Famous Person... Rocío Jurado
- Spanish Recipe... El Botillo
- Popular saying... "Patience is the mother of science"
- Vocabulary... Iberian fauna
- Word of the month... Estozolar
- Notices... New video on our YouTube channel!
The compliment / Flirtatious remark (Is it a good or a bad Spanish habit?)
Picture yourself in this situation: you are an attractive young woman travelling through Spain. You are walking quietly down the street when you hear a mannish voice behind you saying: "Hottie, tell me your name and I’ll ask you for my Christmas present!". You have just been the receptor (or victim) of a "flirtatious remark", one of the most controversial Spanish habits.
It isn’t a practice exclusive to our country; one of our editors reminds us that, when going by a house door during her holidays in Rome, the janitor raised his eyes from a crosswords book to offer her an elegant but convincing "Bella!" and immediately returned to his activities. On the other hand, we know that the Spanish word piropo (compliment) comes from the Greek "pyropus", which means "fire red": it is believed that it refers to the colour to which the addressee’s face turns when she hears it, either because of shyness or fury. So we can say that this is a purely Mediterranean custom.
In Spain, the piropo is considered a flattery, an ingenious form of praise, or a veiled picaresque. But, to put it plainly, the piropo nowadays is something that intends to flatter someone, but turns out as an inadequate and vulgar comment.
It is assumed that he who pronounces a piropo is one of those poorly educated people next to which a mammoth hunter would be the quintessence of elegance, or a repressed person whose idea of poetry is a rhyme on his reproductive intentions. But there are also those on the opposite side: those who believe to be part of a badly understood romantic tradition and have such corny comments that any woman who heard them would instantly die of a cringe shock.
Where does this custom come from? Some want to see in it the last remnants of the gallant poetry with which troubadours to win beautiful ladies’ hearts under the moonlight. For others, it is the verbalization of an attitude and various gestures. This second version seems much more interesting for us, so we will delve further in it.
Tradition has it that in the XVII century it was common that a nobleman or a student threw their capes when their beloved one walked past. It was a gesture of courtesy so that the beloved woman wouldn’t dirty her feet in the muddy streets of the time. In the XIX century there were already some paved streets, and capes were out of fashion; so the new gesture would be to cover one’s eyes, meaning that the praised woman was blinding them with her beauty. From that, men went on to throw a kiss or make a sigh, and from that to words.
There were more extreme cases; for example, it is said that in Ibiza they would directly shoot a blunderbuss before the woman’s feet. Of course, it wasn’t loaded, and the only drawbacks were the noise and the smoke.
The problem always was and still is the fact that it seems that a beautiful woman needs the passer-bys’ approbation. It is a sort of superficial summary judgement which, furthermore, is accompanied by the shouting of the sentence by a judge who is not exactly impartial. And that type of prejudice is really annoying.
So, we believe that what most logical in the times we live today is to let that habit go like the old "honor duels": let’s leave it in the past as something anecdotic. It isn’t the time for piropos anymore.
Cadiz: Horse Fair
One of the consequences of the ever-changing holiday calendar is that this event, originally programmed for the 28th of April, will take place on the 6th of May. But, since it is such a big and picturesque event, you can’t say that you have been warned beforehand.
Once the dates are clear, we will inform you that the Horse Fair is one of the big events in the province of Cadiz and, specially, of the city of Jerez de la Frontera. Curiously enough, it is almost unknown to many Spaniards, although it has been declared an event of International tourist Interest.
The funny thing about this is that it has been taking place since the XV century. In 1481 the limits of the fair were already established (from the Puerta del Real up to Francos street); and in 1903 the fair as we know it was born when the old cattle fair was joined with another fair open to the public.
The result is one of the most eye-catching fairs (with permission from Seville’s April Fair): taming courses are organized, classic taming, polo games... every event focuses on the figure of the legendary and beautiful Andalusian horse. But gastronomic contests are also organized, and prizes are given out, like for example the prize to the best decorated stall. This prize deserves a special mention, since it is one of the most sought after: different organizations, brands and even individuals set up their stalls in a creative way, trying to make them different from the rest; this is something that doesn’t happen in Seville’s April Fair, in which all stalls must be the identical, and are subject to severe rules.
Nonetheless, the spirit is as Andalusian as the one enjoyed in Seville: during the day we can see delightful traditional dresses, enjoy a glass of Sherry wine, taste fried fish and other specialties from Cadiz like the targaninas (a sort of wild asparagus) or the menudo (tripe with chickpeas).
Of course, flamenco cannot be missing. In fact, Jerez is considered the birthplace of flamenco. So in many stalls you will be able to hear renowned or new artists sing and dance.
Bullfights cannot be missing either. And, since we are talking about an equestrian fair, you may attend a rejoneo show or, in other words, horse-riding bullfighting: the two most iconic animals of Spain face to face; something that you will remember throughout your whole life.
Now that we think about, after describing what you can see there, it may have been a good idea having been so early; you are now probably curious about this fair and, as you know, it is better to plan good trips ahead.
Rocío Jurado was one of the most famous Spanish singers. Her voice, her dramatic performances and her passion and way of giving her soul onstage granted her the nickname for which she is still known: they simply called her "The Greatest".
Nevertheless, her origins were very humble. She was born in 1946 in the city of Chipiona, in the province of Cadiz. Her father was a humble shoemaker and her mother was a housewife; they shared their love for traditional Spanish music, a feature that was inherited by the little Rocío. To this was added the gift of a powerful voice, with which she would amaze anyone who heard her at church or at the modest performances she had on Radio Sevilla when her work as a shoemaker or day labourer, which she had to take on after her father’s death, left her some free time.
Her career as a singer started in 1958: she won a prize consisting of 200 pesetas, a bottle of soda and a pair of stockings. Her talent caught the attention of renowned performers like Manolo Caracol (remembered for his duets with Lola Flores) and La Niña de los Peines. But the biggest opportunity of her career would come through the cantaora Pastora Imperio when she hired her to perform in El Duende, one of the first tablaos to open in Madrid. There was only a problem: Rocío was a minor, she was only 14 years old. Fortunately, an appropriate makeup and dress would hide that fact.
During the time that she spent acting at El Duende she admired another great personality of flamenco, Príncipe Gitano, who ended up hiring her for his itinerant show in which another legend of Spanish music, Manolo Escobar, also participated. She started to stand out even between the most important artists, and in 1967 she took on a solo adventure with a pasodoble show.
Nevertheless, the audience’s taste is ever-changing. That was the time when flamenco and copla were considered as genres full of topics and stereotypes (keep in mind that, in the rest of Spain, it was the time when the Beatles, Sylvie Bartan or Adriano Celentano were receiving all the attention), so Rocío decided to dedicate herself to melodic songs and ballads. This new facet of her career allowed her to cross the Atlantic, where she was very successful during the 70s. In Spain she was still well-known, but more because of her tempestuous marriage to the boxer Pedro Carrasco –whom she would divorce in 1989- than because of her music.
During the 80s there was a revitalization of flamenco and copla, and Jurado would take advantage of that situation and, aside from a commercial career, she would concurrently develop another one more focused to a more orthodox cante. From this era is the very famous song "Como una ola" (Like a wave), very much sung at karaokes, and her record "Canciones de España" (Spanish songs). Given the commercial success and the critical acclaim, she started to be known as "The Greatest". She even had a part in one of Carlos Saura’s films, "El amor brujo" (The witch love), based on Manuel de Falla’s work of the same title.
The first half of the 90s was quite troubled for Rocío Jurado. The media kept a close eye on her private life (specially after her wedding with the bullfighter José Ortega Cano), Carlos Saura called her again for his movie "Sevillanas", she had a part in the music show "Azabache" in Seville’s Universal Exhibition of 1992, she made another film called "La Lola se va a los puertos", and she kept making new records. Nonetheless, the artist’s production stopped in 1998.
In 2001 there was a compilation record with her greatest hits, titled "La más grande" (The greatest), which made it clear that it was going to be one of the last efforts of the artist’s career. And so was it: the singer announced in 2004 that she had a pancreatic cancer, and tributes and concerts soon followed.
Two years later, after having been treated at a Houston hospital, given the Gold Medal to the Merit at work, Rocío Jurado died at her Madrid home. Her body was taken to Chipiona, where she still receives the visit of many admirers and fans.
Nowadays, her songs are still listened to. And not only in nostalgic radio shows, but also from people on the street who hum or whistle them; a curious and authentic acknowledgement to a woman whose nickname wasn’t a product of exaggeration, but a plain reality.
It is very probable that this recipe is new to you and, for as much as we tell you that it is a traditional recipe from El Bierzo –a part of the province of León-, you still have no notion of it. So let’s clarify things from the beginning.
By "Botillo" we understand both the recipe and its main ingredient: a cold meat elaborated from spiced chunks of pig meat which are later smoked and semi-cured. Of course, we won’t make you kill a pig to prepare this recipe, but going to the butcher’s to buy one instead.
But this is no excuse to tell you the ancient origin of this specialty. The word "botillo" come from "botellus", which means intestine in Latin. This is so because the Romans already prepared cold meats in a very similar way as is done today: putting pig meat inside a section of the same animal’s tripe. The people from León were especially good at it, whose fame in this activity was maintained even after the fall of the Roman Empire; so it confirms a document from the 11th or 12th century according to which the inhabitants around the monastery of San Pedro de los Montes, should hand in a an annual quantity of "botellus" to the monks. Since them, this cold meat has changed very little: probably the only change was the addition of paprika, a spice that was discovered in America).
Let’s talk about the recipe now. The one we are going to show you is for many people the most traditional way of preparing Botillo. It is quite simple, and will remind you a lot to that of the cocidos that are prepared in the Castile area; so, if you have prepared one of these stews, this one will be very easy to prepare.
You are going to need –apart from the aforementioned botillo- potatoes, cabbage, several chorizos and water. Put the botillo in a pan where it fits comfortably, and add water until it is completely covered. Now cook it for an hour and a half. Next, add the rest of the ingredients (remember to peel the potatoes), and cook for another half an hour.
After this time, take the ingredients out and remove the excess of fat from the broth. This is also very easy to do: just put the broth on a high flame and the fat will concentrate on the outer part of the broth, where it is easily removed with a spoon. Having done this, you can now distribute the ingredients on the dishes and enjoy an excellent recipe although, we must admit, more than filling. By the way, how many of these recipes have we gone through already? I may look as though we are trying to make you gain weight on your trip to Spain. We promise something lighter for next time.
"Patience is the mother of science" ("La paciencia es la madre de la ciencia")
The idea that we are living in a time when everybody hurries and everything is urgent is a subject that may end up becoming a cliché, because in every time period of history people were hurried. If not, how can this be one of the most repeated saying in our language? We now hurry to our place of work just as people used to hurry to crop a field. So, both in the XIX century and in the Roman Empire what human beings have missed is patience.
This is what this saying is about; it comes to say that, in order for things to come out the way we expected them, we need to learn how to wait and not hurry. Furthermore, knowing how to wait and observe we will reach the knowledge that will help us solve future problems.
That is the sense of "science" in this sentence, it is not about the "group of knowledge obtained through observation and reason, systematically structured and from which derive principles and general laws", but, more plainly speaking, wisdom.
Maybe it would be less complicated to say that "patience is the mother of knowledge", but in that case it wouldn’t rhyme, and you should know that many Spanish proverbs are rhymed to help their memorization.
So, we hope that this saying helps to recommend you that, whenever things take a wrong turn, you sit quietly and think of a plan, instead of being lead by hysteria or hurries. Keep your head cold and think that both in Spain and in your home countries the fastest decision (not the most hurried) must be meditated, even for a minute.
Iberian fauna is very varied: due to our geographic location, one can find in the Spanish fields animals that also live in the cold North of Europe, and in the warm African north. To this variety there is an added difficulty, which is the regional name given to many of them, apart from their common names, so you might find yourself in the situation that someone wants to show you a "cacheiro", and you find out that you already knew that animal by another Spanish name. This is why we have elaborated this short list with some of the animals that receive the most curious regional denominations in the different areas of Spain. We hope that you can find it instructive.
- Albarión: this sounds like a big animal, right? Well, it is; this is the name that brown bears (Ursus arctos) receive in some parts of Asturias.
- Cacheiro: even though it sounds like Galician, the truth is that this animal is original from Salamanca, in Castile and Leon. We might think that we are talking about a small and charming animal. And it really is so: this is the name given to hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus).
- Careto: the careto is a hardy and bad-tempered mammal with a white face crossed two black lines –that is what gives them this name, for "careta" means mask-. It is nothing other than a badger (Meles meles).
- Cazón: in many restaurants of the coast cities of Andalusia you will find something called "cazón" on the menu. It is the vitamin shark (Galeorhinus galeus), and the truth is that is very tasty.
- Furela: in León they give this name to the small mole that others call shrew (Suncus murinus).
- Lobo Cerval: a feline that was known by a canine name in the Basque Country, the Iberian Lynx (Lynx Pardinus). The sad part of this story is that there are less than 300 individuals of this species in Andalusia, and around 15 in Castile-La Mancha. Sadly, it is the most threatened feline in the world.
- Lucio: This is a curious case, because this fish –Esox lucius is its Latin name- was almost unknown in Spain up until the 50s. It was introduced in Spain from France by Spanish authorities with the objective of promoting sportive fishing in the newly open reservoirs. Nonetheless, its introduction has brought more setbacks than benefits, because it feeds from amphibians and autochthonous fish species.
- Serpiente peluda(Hairy snake): Due to its long and winding shape, the Meloncillo (Herpestes ichneumon) –a type of mongoose- receives its name. How did a mongoose arrive to Spanish land from such far away lands as the sub-Saharan Africa is a mystery, although it is believed that it was the Muslims who introduced it to Spain in the 12th century to control mice plagues.
- Misino: "Michino" is a way of calling domestic cats, but "Misino" is the name given to the wildcat (Felis silvestris) in Andalusia. It is very similar to a domestic cat, but in a feral version. This animal also gives its name to a famous bullfighting pasodoble, by the way.
- Morciguillo: its name can sound like "morcilla" (black pudding), but it has nothing to do with it. This is the nickname that is given to bats (Chiroptera) in many places of La Mancha, in a general sense and without differentiating them by species.
- Ortiguilla: with this funny term they designate the anemones (Anemonia sulfata) in Cadiz, Andalusia. By the way, these ortiguillas are also very well considered as a tapa, where they are served battered and fried.
- Paniquesa: in the regions of Aragon and Cantabria they give this name to the weasel. This name has a funny reason to be: because this animal has a brown or reddish colour with a white abdomen it reminded people of a toast of bread (pan) with cheese (queso) spread on it.
- Priur: in some regions they give this name to the bee eater (Merops apiaster), an eye-catching and colorful bird that feeds on bees. They give it this name because it is a translation of the singing it produces.
- Raboso: this word means literally "with a big tail". It is pretty clear that this is the name that is given to the fox (Vulpes vulpes). This nickname is used in Aragon.
There are many, many more examples of animal names that vary from one region to another, but talking about all of them would occupy several pages. So our recommendation is that you got to the countryside and observe the different "bugs" that you come across. This is a hidden attraction of our country that will surprise you.
Let us say that this is not the most appropriate word to use in a cultivated atmosphere. The sound of this word is funny and rude at the same time. One could say that it is a "rural" word, but we don’t want to engage in easy and superficial criticism of believing that the words used in rural ambiences are brusquer, because there are many rude speakers in the city too.
But let’s go back to our subject: this word –original of the Navarre-Aragon region- has a specific meaning, exact and almost surgical. It means "to break one’s neck", or "to break or take out of place the bones of the nape".
Nonetheless, for some reason we do not know (maybe its comical sound) has become a word used when we witness one of those funny falls and accidents. You know: like in those home videos where someone jumps on an elastic bed and ends up falling on the floor head down.
In fact, the word has become one of the most iconic of the somardas of Aragon, of which we have already told you of. Just a quick example: one of the editors remembers how, during a holiday break, his little sister fell down a small slope in a very dramatic way. Her grandfather, an iconic Aragonese, left out a phlegmatic "se ha estolozao" ("she has broken her neck") when he contemplated the scene. Of course, he knew that the fall hadn’t been serious, just flamboyant.
You can imagine, then, that its use has been reduced to funny situations and stories, anecdotes or funny exaggerations. And remember never, never to use "estolozar" as a medical term or to describe what happened after a severe accident. It could seem as if you weren’t taking it seriously. You are warned.
Our YouTube account not only serves the purpose of keeping you updated on our courses, or on our schools, but it also shows how our classes work and even how much fun our students have while learning.
And since we also want you to learn, this month we present you a funny video from our Enforex Valencia students: "Our favourite Spanish words". In it, they tell us how words like siesta, cucaracha or parranda are the ones they like most. What? You don’t know what these words mean? Well, we invite you to take a look at this video
By the way, in case you have heard about the recent Harlem Shake fashion, we can tell you that our students have also created one. It is featured at the end of the video and has a very Spanish and parrandero feel to it. Don’t miss it!
Also, don’t forget that you have our YouTube channel available with lots of interesting contents. If you want to get to know our schools and many other things as if you were there, pay us a visit, we are waiting for you!