Thursday, 24 October 2013

Meet Mario.

‘Street theatre’ is very popular here in Spain. Near where I live, the town of Vila-Real hosts an annual festival. ‘Mario’ was one of mis favoritos last year, although I must point out that the puppeteers came from France. Notice in the first video the audience shouting ‘No’ and ‘Sí’.  

This second video is just for fun.

There's always something going on in the streets (calles) here in Spain. Next time you visit, look out for posters advertising events such as this, or visit the local oficina de turismo.

And as you can see from these videos, you can enjoy lots of things even when you haven't learned very much of the language.

¡Disfruta! (Have fun!)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Fiesta Dos. Buckaroo...

Hola. ¿Qué pasa? 

I hear that phrase a lot here. It means, ‘What’s happening?’ or ‘What’s going on?’
The usual reply is, ‘Nada.’ Nothing.
Try it with your friends in the playground each morning.
‘¿Qué pasa?’
Hours of fun. Well, seconds. But you’ll sound so Spanish!

Now, I’ve got something a bit special today. I was out during the summer and something was going on...

Any idea what it’s for? Well, do you know the toy ‘Buckaroo’? You have to place things onto a horse until it ‘bucks’ them off. This works a little bit like that. Watch the video.
These toros are a common sight when local ferias (fairs) come to town, especially in this area (the Valencian community) where bulls play a large part in the culture. 

So, the next time you go on holiday to Spain, check out on the internet or in the local oficina de turismo to see if there is a feria coming to a nearby town. 

But if there is, remember to hold on tight!

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Look out for one of these the next time you're in a Spanish hotel or restaurante... and amaze your family by showing them what to do with it!

The writing on the front is actually three words squashed together for a website address:
Pulsa y voy.
Pulsa means 'press'.
y means 'and'.
Voy means 'I go', although in this context it means 'I'll be there'.

You'll find these little aparatos (that means 'gadgets' or 'gizmos') on the tables wherever  camareros and camareras (waiters) serve. They're about the size of a deck of cards.

Look on the side and you'll see some more pistas (clues). 

The first button (what I originally thought was someone looking through a telescope) means 'Call the waiter'. Do you remember learning 'Me llamo Jeremy'? Well, llamar means 'call'.

The second button means 'Ask for the bill'.

I'm sure you can work the last one out yourself!

But if you do ever spot one, make sure you get to it first. 'Cos if anyone else turns it around, they might see this...

...and your little performance won't be quite so impressive.

Finally, did you notice how young people are getting around the camarero/a issue by using camarer@ to stand for both? They're using the '@' symbol (called arroba in Spanish) for lots of words which use 'o' and 'a' to change the gender. I think it's pretty guay! (That means 'cool', but click on the word to hear how to say it as it's not immediately obvious.)

Now, who's ready for hamburguesa y patatas fritas?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Fiesta Una. Fancy a Little Something to Eat?

Fiesta. Can you think of a more 'Spanish' word? But what does it actually mean? The dictionary will tell you it means 'party', 'festival' or 'celebration', but live here for any amount of time and you'll discover that 'fiesta' can cover much more. This is the first of a number of posts which will try to show you some of the meanings.

Let's start with food. What food do you think of when you think of España? It's probably paella.

The most famous Spanish dish of all. But do you know how to say paella so that a Spaniard will understand you? Listen to how it’s said and notice how the double ‘l’ in Spanish sounds like an English ‘y’.

So you know how to say it, but do you know how it’s made? To be honest, paella is a little like Italian pizza in that there are many variations. Paella originated in the Valencia region, so paella Valenciana is probably the most traditional version. 

Let’s have a look at one being made. But this isn’t an ordinary paella. This is a paella for a local fiesta (party or celebration) so this is going to be a paella monumental. Can you guess what that means? You probably will when I tell you that the first thing you'll need to do is close the street. (Monumental means enormous.)

Light a fire and a heat up a large paella pan. (Locals will tell you that the wood must come from the local orange trees.) The pan in the picture can feed 6,000, although today it's 'only' going to cater for 2,000. So, oil the pan and throw in some chicken (pollo) and rabbit (conejo) to fry gently.

Next comes some vegetables (verduras) and the Spanish are particularly keen on green and butter beans, so throw the box in.

A pinch (well, a potful) of saffron (azafran), a spice which will give the dish flavour and its famous yellow-orange (amarillo-naranja) colour.


Then comes the main ingredient of all paellas, rice (arroz), loads of it.

Add water (agua) and stir... with a spade!



You can enjoy paella hot or cold. Traditionally it was a lunchtime meal for the farmers out in the rice fields south of Valencia. Nowadays, these paellas monumentales are often held as fundraisers. Everyone is welcome, and a 3 or 4 euro (2 or 3 pounds) ticket will get you a plate of paella, a drink (una bebida) and a place at the hottest table in town. 

It can take over an hour to cook, so usually there will be some 'regional entertainment' to keep you occupied while you build up an appetite. It was the arab invaders, over 1,000 years ago, who brought rice to this part of Spain and started the paella tradition, so, what could be more appropriate than a ‘belly-dance’?

¡Disfruta! (Enjoy!)

But remember to get there early, these occasions usually draw quite a crowd...

N.B. This is an edited version of a post from my Zen Kyu Maestro blog. (February 11th 2012.)