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.