Culture and spanish language - October 2011

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Enforex Newsletter 2011
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Typical Spanish

The Terraces in Bars

By this month one begins to feel nostalgic of the summer: it’s hours of light, the walks and specially de terraces of bars where one has spend so many good times and where conversations with friends last for a long while. There may still be some in your city (lately summers stretch to mid October).

We don’t know accurately when someone had the idea to put tables in the streets so that the customers would not have to endure the heat inside the bar, but there are terraces in Madrid that date back to the end of the 19th century. And some of them have produced other brilliant inventions: for instance that the first “tapa” was born when King Alfonso XIII asked for a glass of wine in the terrace of a beach in Cádiz and the Walter covered the monarch’s glass with a slice of ham when the wind began blowing, so no sand would get into the wine.

What was first the result of a necessity (lets remember that air conditioning is quite modern) and guile –aside from take in more bar-goers than they could actually fit in there, the waiters World fill jugs and glasses with less than what was the norm as the customers would get distracted in the streets and not notice it- it has become an example of the most worry-free and street lifestyle so typically Spanish.

Nowadays we can find all sorts of terraces. From the typical terraces of the local bar to those that hold the honour of being among the oldest in the city (generally decorated in an “art nouveau” style), those that liven the customers’ afternoon with live piano shows and those where the sunset becomes an spectacle. Generally this prodigality of style, glamour and class does not come for free and the drinks prices become notable steeper. All for having an experience worthy of telling our friends.  

In the Spanish terraces you can not only just drink something. You can also taste all sorts of dishes, rations and “tapas”. To know which ones are best its better to forget about tour guides in this specific case: ask friends and acquaintances. Curiously in most cases they will recommend the terrace of a simple and not elegant at all bar, those that are called “Casa Pepe” and which have paper tablecloths and glasses with beer logos engraved.

But, what are we telling you that you don’t already know? If you have ever spent a summer in a Spanish city you will know what we mean. As a wise man that preferred to keep his anonymity said “there are some things in our culture that are not taught in school or museums”.


Featured City

El Mariquelo
El Mariquelo
Salamanca, (El Mariquelo)

It is well known that many people have made promises to God for being lucky or for being freed of some evil. However there are few people that turn those promises into tradition: one of them is made by the Mariquelos of Salamanca.

Before telling you about this promise and why that family has repeated that rite for over a century, we will tell you a bit of history.

It’s October 31st, 1755. A strong earthquake shakes the coasts of Cape San Vicente in Portugal. The tsunami agitated the seas and a gigantic wave devastated Lisbon. In Salamanca, less than 500 kilometres away, a tremor is noticed and the terrified people who inhabit the city ran to the Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral) which miraculously held. Only some statues fell to the floor and the bell tower was skewed in a few degrees.  

For many natives from Salamanca it was clear that God had favoured them. In consequence a promise must be made to him, so he wouldn’t take those he had protected as ungrateful. The authorities established that each October 31st the Cathedral’s bells must rung and the degrees of inclination of the tower should be measured. The people in charge of this task would be the Mariquelos, the member of a family consecrated to the tolling of the bells of the compound, including the highest bell which could only be accessed from the exterior of the bell tower. In all likelihood the Mariquelos were also the only ones who would dare to climb a tower in permanent danger of collapsing.

The tradition was celebrated without incident until 1976, year in which Fabián Mesonero, the last Mariquelo of the saga retired.

Nobody seemed to dare to recover this custom until 1985, when a drummer called Ángel Rufino de Haro (unrelated to the Mariquelos) decided to don the typical costume from Salamanca and climb the pinnacle of the bell tower of the Cathedral. Up till today Angel does not miss his appointment with heights, even though he has confessed that the years are taking their toll on him and he’s looking for a successor..

A rite worthy of seeing, and even though it’s dedicated to God, it reminds us that there courageous and determined people willing to keep history alive.

Famous Person

Paco de Lucía
Paco de Lucía
Paco de Lucía

If there is a legend of Spanish flamenco who is alive, is the person we feature this month: his way of playing guitar is famous throughout the World and even those who don’t like his style recognize his art. It’s Paco de Lucía.

He was born Francisco Sánchez Gomes in Algeciras (Cádiz) in 1947. The nickname “de Lucía” comes from his mother, Lucía “the Portuguese” and his love for his father’s (Antonio). The flamenco loving couple would also raise two other legends: flamenco singer Pepe de Lucía and guitar player Ramón de Algeciras.

Paco’s career began very early in his life, when he was 12 years old alongside his brother Pepe. Both formed the duo “Los Chiquitos de Algeciras”,  famous in all flamenco stages in Cádiz. Paco’s musicianship did not go unnoticed and with 14 years he won an award in the International Flamenco Contest of Jerez de la Frontera. The prize earned him the posición of third guitar in the José Greco Ballet Company which was about to begin a tour through the U.S.A. that year.

In 1965,  at 18, he recorded his first two albums “Dos Guitarras Flamencas” and “12 Canciones de García Lorca para Guitarra” with Ricardo Modrego. Two years later he Publisher  “Dos Guitarras Flamencas en América Latina” with this brother and soon another album followed with a title as suggestive “La Fabulosa Guitarra de Paco de Lucía” (Paco de Lucia’s fabulous guitar).

As we can see, Paco was already an established and prestigious artist, but he wouldn’t settle. By the end of the 1960’s he would meet another flamenco icon, Camarón de la Isla. Both representatives of the most orthodox current of this musical style, they decided to take some risks and were successful, even today their collaborations are considered precursory of the “fusion” style which mixes flamenco with other genres such as rock or jazz, which is so successful today.

Durint the 70’s one tour followed another. They travelled through Europe several times with the show “Festival Flamenco Gitano”.  Despite being dedicated to the life of a travelling artist he still had time to publish albums such as “El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucía”, “Fuente y caudal”, “Almoraima” and "Paco de Lucía Interpreta a Manuel de Falla".

During the period that encompasses the mid 70’s to the beginning of the 90’s, he was established as one of the best flamenco guitar players of the Spanish flamenco scene, as well as one of the most restless: he added other instruments such as Peruvian cajon to his recordings and he even formed a “flamenco super-group”, achieving near perfection in each one of his experiments.

But the last years of the 20th century would be bitter: Camaron de la Isla died in 1992, followed by different disputes over the rights of their collaborations. Then the death of his mother in 1998 helped to worsen his mood. His star seemed to be vanishing, however in 2004 he received the Prince of Asturias Award of the Arts and he was acknowledged again. Even though he still collaborates with other artists since the year of the award, he seems to have retired, as he has not published anymore of his works.

Paco has a whole legion of followers who still hope to see one more work Publisher by him and that he will surprise us once again with something so difficult as making art of art with only plucking some strings.

Spanish Recipe

Papas arrugás
Papas arrugás
Papas arrugás

This famous and delicious dish from the Canary Islands has a marine origin although its main ingredient, the potato, comes from the earth and it doesn’t have any fish in it.

Papas arrugás” were born from the fishermen’s need to elaborate something to eat while they worked, and whose ingredients wouldn’t take up much room in a cellar destined to hold the products of the day’s fishing. So they would take a number of small clean potatoes and cook them in a pot filled with sea water. The idea is curious and romantic up to a certain extent: to unite the earth and the ocean to feed the humans who battle the elements to survive.

Literatura aside, if you want to prepare this dish at home and you live in the interior of the Iberian Peninsula, don’t worry. You only have to cook the potatoes (extremely clean) in water with lots of salt. .
But we won’t only cook them. The same happens with papas arrugás as with many other recipes that sem. Simple: the interesting part (we won’t say complicated as not to discourage you) is in the way of making them. Once they are cooked you have to throw the water from the pan away, but the potatoes must remain inside. Next you must let the potatoes cook a little longer and shake the pot from time to time. The objective is for the potatoes to dry up with a layer of salt on their skin.

They’re almost ready (yes, you have to eat them with the skin, that’s why we have insisted so much in that they have to be very clean). Now you can serve them with a sauce to your taste. For the culinary experience to be completely from the Canary Islands, we recommend you to serve them with mojo picón: a Canary sauce prepared with a base of garlic, tomato, oil, vinegar, salt, cumin and pepper.

We won’t add anything else to the recipe, except “enjoy”!

Popular Saying

“Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr” (water thou shalt not drink, let it run)

This pretty expression that sounds like out of a verse or popular Spanish song teaches a truth a little hard to chew: don’t get involved where it’s non of your business, or you might end up getting into trouble. Have you never tried to separate two strangers from fighting and ended up getting punched by both?

We ignore why the metaphor with water: there are some who say that it’s because if we’re not thirsty when we come across a river, there is no reason to stop and drink; others think that the water mentioned is poisoned, and therefore, we’d have to spill it to make sure it doesn’t hurt anyone.

Whatever it’s origin, the truth is, its one of the most repeated proverbs in conversations amog friends and family. Perhaps this means, that far from being so cynical as the adage asks, deep down in each Spaniard there is a Quixote.


Spanish words with Arabic origin

The Iberian peninsula, lets not forget, was Ander Islamic dominion for no less than 781 years. Naturally, there are many of our words whose origins are in those times and culture. The examples are many, but here we leave you a few with very common uses with Arabic origins we ignored.

Alcalde (mayor): comes from  alqadi. The word used to designte the president of a town or municipality comes from the Arabic word used to refer to judges. The authority changes in form, but not in word.
Bellota (acorn): comes from  ballūta. The fruit of oak tree is today more abundant in our country, but in the times of the Muslims it was even more common.

Cenefa (edgings): comes from  , Sanífa.We should not be surprised that the origin of this word is Arabicm, since the cenefas (drawings or ornamentation along the length of walls) is a typical feature of art from Andalucía. ) 

Dado (dice): con origen en dād. The game element that we haeve all used has its origins in Roman times, but its name, at least in Spanish, comes from the old Arabic words which means “numbers”.

Escabeche (pickled): comes from assukkabág. The origin of this sauce made with  oil, vinegar and bay leaf and other spices is revealed.  

Fideo (noodles): comes from fidáwš. Even though noodles is a Chinese invention, they were brough to Spain by the Arabs, and hence its name.

Guitarra (guiar): comes from qītārah. The Spanish instrument par excellence has its origins in the Muslim World. However who were the first to bring the instrument to Europe still a subject of controversy and study: some say it was the Romans, others say the Arabs.  

Jabalí (warthog): comes from gabalí. The feared and wild relative of the pig was already known by the Andalusians, even though the word literally means “from the mountain”.

Jaqueca (headache): comes from šaqíqa. This proves that headaches have existed since the most remote times, and more importantly that the Arabs were the best doctors in the world.
Laca (hair spray or lacquer): comes from  lákk. Nowadays we associated it with hair styles, but any art student or craftsman knows it’s a hard and shiny varnish that the Arabs brought to Spain from the far East.

Mezquino (petty) comes from miskín. Nowadays this word means “lacking in spirit nobility”. However in its origins the word meant something similar to “courtier”. What happened that something so high came to mean something so low is a mystery that we’d like to know.

Olé: Perhaps it comes from Allah? The Spanish word par excellence doesn’t have a clear origin; while some say it comes from an invocation to Allah in times of danger (which would explain why its used in bullfighting rings), others think it comes from a Greek verb “ololizin” which means “desiring with a shout”.

Sorbete (sherbet) comes from šarbah. We admit that with this word used to refer to ice cream made of fruit jueces we have cheated a little: its true that it comes from the Italian “sorbetto”, but this comes from the Arabic word which means “to slurp”. Many turns to get to the same place, but we thought it was curious.  

Tabaco (tobacco): comes from Tubbāq. How come this word as Arabic origin when the plant comes from America? Its due to a curious association: “ṭubbāq” is used to designate a group of medicinal plants used by Muslim doctors whose side effect would be dizziness in patients.

Zanahoria (carrot): comes from safunnárya. In regards to this orange vegetable there is no doubt about the origin of its name, there is doubt however, about the origin of the word from which it originates. But that’s another story.

Cursi (corny)Guys, let’s think about those love declarations that we wrote to the prettiest and most unattainable girl of the class. Girl, think about those sentences that the guy who fancied you wrote on your folder. Phrases such as “I’m dying of love every time you look at me” or “I would bring down the moon to your balcony for you”. We think they are unnatural or of a grotesque sweetness that borders on bad taste. This is the essence of “cursi” or corny. 

If we want to be more academia, the Real Academia de la Lengua describes an artist that pretends to who the most elevated feelings or refinement with his work without accomplishing it, a person that presumes of elegance without having any, or something that pretends to be refined but it’s actually ridiculous and with bad taste. So reciting a poetry of our creation to the person that we like while wearing the dancing light blue suit from school is epic corny.  

The word, if you notice, is quite ridiculous to Spanish speakers. It begins heavily with the “c” and “u” sounds followed by “r” and then it gets diluted with the sibilant “s” followed by the acute vowel “i”, as if the own word’s pronunciation was somehow reflected by its definition.

Beware, that in certain languages it can become something more painful than a pick. So be carefl when using it, specially in celebrations or parties.

A new course begins. If you want to venture into the Spanish World or simply improve your level in the language of Cervantes, this is the best time. So if you want to learn in a different way, in the same place where Spanish is spoken, check out our website.

Our prices have been updated. But don’t worry, if your intention was to take a course before the year ends. You can see the 2011 prices as well as those of 2012, so you can compare and decide when it’s better for you.

In all the pages of our courses you will see two tabs: one is for the prices of our courses in 2012; the other gives you information and prices of the 2012 courses, and not only classes, but accommodation too.

Likewise, your destiny of choice may not be Spain but Latin America, and you can get the prices in a simple way, so you get to see them straight away.

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