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Saturday, August 14th "Spain in the U.S. (and Canada)"

Finding a little of Spain in the U.S. can be difficult depending on where you live. Some of it is perhaps just a little luck. Being in the U.S. with Spaniards we try to seek out some of the comforts of home. Of course my missing Sevilla immensely at times drives me to look for what I can. So in my recent craze for lists here are some things we have been able to find:

  • In Washington DC we found two restaurants, one of which, Jaleo, was a “pure” tapas bar. The tapas in Jaleo were some of the best we’ve had in the States, although prices, while reasonable, were perhaps more than your normal tapa. We had cazón en adobo, surtido de chacina, butifarra, and croquetas. We sipped Estrella Galicia, the only Spanish beer on the menu, while we ate. We got a tip from our waiter that La Tasca, a bar just down the street, was run by English folks and the food was just horrible. Still, it was another Spanish bar and just down the street so we couldn’t resist a quick stop. We were too full to eat anything but they had a more authentic atmosphere in La Tasca than in Jaleo. It’s not that Jaleo isn’t nice, but perhaps a little too “hip” for my tastes. And I guess La Tasca is more like a Spanish Applebee’s, but they had more Spanish things on the wall and behind the bar. We had a choice of 6 Spanish beers, including Mahou (definitely the worst of them all). I decided on an Alhambra (second worst) as they did not serve my ever loved Cruzcampo.
  • We spoke Spanish in the Spanish consulate and saw a few guys from the Guardia Civil. This was enough for Granada to feel right at home. I especially enjoyed the talk in the line while waiting to submit my visa papers. Almost all waiting in line were students, many of them excited to be heading to Spain. I couldn’t help but pick out the ones who were going to have a hard time. Those were the ones who had a “problem” with the timetable and kept asking if there was anything they could do to speed up the process. Hah! (sorry, as I am being an ass). One stormed out as if his life had been ruined. I did feel sorry for the poor guy, but he must know that nobody behind that desk cared one bit. I especially enjoyed overhearing one young female student say to another that she should be prepared to be robbed in Spain: “Oh yeah, everyone I know who has studied in Spain got robbed like 4 times, and you should definitely expect it to happen”. How I wanted to slap this person silly, but I don’t think slapping another person in line would have helped my visa chances.
  • I met someone from Barcelona at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, N.C. While he didn’t miss Spanish beer like I do (I must be crazy, but I will again confess my love of Cruzcampo and declare it the best beer on the face of the earth) he was test tasting a vinegar from Barcelona as he did miss home. We talked a bit and he laughed at me being American and speaking with an Andalusian accent. I laughed at his accent, too, being from the North. While standing next the to olive oil shelves filled with Italian brands he made a remark we often make when back in the U.S.: “It’s all from Italy – what’s wrong with these people?”. Sadly, in the U.S. Italian olive oil rules aside from a few Spanish brands. I guess the population of Italians is much larger than Spaniards in the states, so I can understand somewhat. What these Italian olive oil loving folks don’t know is that over half of the oil sold under the Italian brands has been trucked in from Spain to be bottled in Italy. Well, we know, so we enjoy some of the best Spanish olive oil in an Italian bottle.
  • In Canada we met a couple from Valladolid who live in Toronto. They were vacationing in Nova Scotia and we happened to overhear them speaking in a parking lot in Lunenburg, a small coastal town. We later noticed someone wearing a Real Madrid jersey. Unfortunately the chances of seeing someone with a Betis jersey are pretty slim.
  • In Halifax, Nova Scotia we saw someone wearing a jersey from the Spanish National team with Raul on the back.

Our brush with Spain in the U.S. and Canada has thus been pretty weak, but we continue our search as I wait for my visa. I consider myself lucky to have been able to leave the country while my passport has been kidnapped by the Spanish consulate. In Canada a driver’s license plus an expired passport will get you across the border just fine if you are American.