The food here is insane and I’ve already been eating SO MUCH. I’ve learned how important meals are in the Spanish culture – dinner is a time for everyone to sit down and recap the day. At home, I tend to grab food on the run, but dinner is a very planned-out event here.
My first night, Alejandra cooked a FEAST for us. She made paella, a dish that is more typical of Valencia, but it was incredible. She added oysters and shrimp to it – I’m usually not a huge fan of seafood but it was tan rica. We also ate chicken, soup, and bread. BREAD. SO MUCH BREAD. With every meal, Alejandra cuts us at least two slices of bread to start. It’s hard to tell her no when she continues to cut us slice after slice.
We had another traditional Spanish dish the other night: tortillas. When Alejandra told me what she was preparing, I expected a thin tortilla for a taco, but this tortilla was similar to a frittata. It was made of eggs, pan-fried potatoes and onion. It was cool to try a food that’s so common here in Spain -- I definitely would eat this again.
Last night, we had botifarra, a type of sausage that is very important in Catalonian culture. I’d heard about this before coming to Spain and we saw a ton of it for sale when we visited the boquería. Alejandra served it with a side of garbanzo beans.
We eat two meals a day with our host family and are left to find lunch for ourselves between classes. I’ve had a hard time finding traditional food that isn’t catered to tourists, but it’s all tasted amazing nonetheless. Barcelona is on the coast, so seafood is very prevalent. Claire, Allison, and I had calamari with champagne (alcohol is surprisingly inexpensive at restaurants) on our second day here. The boquería is filled with fish – most of them with the eyes still in them.
Breakfast has varied depending on the day, but I typically have a cup of yogurt, café con leche and tostados – super tiny and crunchy pieces of toast. We put cream cheese, chorizo and sliced cheese on top of them. I could eat like 50 in one sitting.
The biggest challenge food-wise so far has been not over-eating, especially at dinner. In the Spanish culture, it’s considered polite for the host to push food on his or her guests. It’s a way of being welcoming, but it’s INTENSE. After eating an entire sausage along with the rest of dinner last night, Alejandra kept emphasizing how I don’t eat anything. She always tries to serve us more and more, and we have to tell her we’re not hungry before she can put another scoop on our plate. Last night she threatened to tell my mom when she visits in March that I don't eat anything!! It's all out of love, but I might explode.
I’m known in my family for being a picky eater, but all the food I’ve tried thus far has been incredible here. I might return home ten pounds heavier but, hey, it’ll be worth it.
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<p>Julia is a junior at Miami University triple-majoring in journalism, media & culture, and Spanish. She loves to read, write and spend time with friends in her free time. This past summer, she worked on a dude ranch in Colorado for three months. It was a life-changing experience that motivated her to study abroad.</p>