14th Day in Spain
Depending on how I count, my 13th Day in Spain was July’s 4th Day, Independence Day in the United States. It is my first Independence Day outside the US.
My friends Clay and Nicole are also in Spain. So close, yet so far.
The Familiar Outside Its Element
When I’m out of my element, I tend to gravitate towards the familiar. It’s not a desire for the connection with home or a resistance to anything different. For me, it’s the novelty of the familiar outside of its element.
The familiar is different when it’s somewhere else.
One of my favorite restaurants back home in Ft. Worth is Joe T. Garcia’s. My mother-in-law has jars of the Joe T. Garcia’s salsa we send her. She and my brother-in-law love it. We have to buy them the mild salsa because Spaniards don’t eat spicy foods and the medium salsa is way too spicy for them.
One Man’s Spicey is Another Man’s Sweet
During our 2010 beach trip, my brother-in-law, always the trickster, wanted to play a trick on me.
Our favorite restaurant in Alcossebre had this chili oil during their dinner service. Too him, this chili oil was excruciatingly spicy.
Wanting to see me suffer, he offered me some of the chili oil, said it was really delicious and that I need to pour a lot of it on my pizza. I did. It was delicious, so I added a little more. Not very spicy to me. Jokes on you, Pepito!
The Same is Different
Pepito had me try a little of the Joe T. Garcia’s salsa on some bread with anchovies.
For one thing, the combination was disgusting.
I don’t mind a little ketchup on a burger or even a minute dab on a hot dog, but ketchup on bread disgusts me. Turns out salsa on bread disgusts me even more. The anchovy on the bread was good. The anchovy with salsa was good. The salsa on bread, even my beloved Joe T. Garcia’s salsa, was disgusting.
For another thing, the salsa’s flavor was different.
The exact same salsa has at least two different flavors, one for Ft. Worth and one for Madrid.
The same thing happens with food they send us to the United States. Although still far better than the Coca-Cola sold in the US, the Coke from Spain doesn’t taste as good in Ft. Worth as it does in Spain. The same with the Schweppes Limon, Cruz Campo Shandi, and Cerveza Mahao.
The familiar in a strange place isn’t familiar.
The Other La Cibeles
A friend texted yesterday. She’s visiting her family in Argentina. Knowing how much we love the iconic landmark, she sent us a picture of a restaurant they visited with a similar name, La Cibeles.
Familiar in the strange.
We’re all drawn towards it. We all draw from it, whether it’s to feel closer to home, closer to something we love or for the novelty of a juxtaposition.
For those of you keeping score, that is the first time I’ve ever used the word juxtaposition. I’m sure if I tried to say it out loud I’d mispronounce it because I’ve never used it.
It’s just a position I’ve stumbled into.
The Arches Are Still Golden. And They’re Still Arches
We went to McDonald’s on Independence Day.
It wasn’t part of a plan. It just happened.
July 4th is a very special day for me. I feel a little regretful not being home for Independence Day.
Cuatro de Julio is just another hot day a few weeks before vacation.
Let’s just go to Maccers.
My mother-in-law made one of my favorite foods, croquettes. She even made them with lamb. I snuck a couple during the day, anticipating dinner when I’d load up on lamb croquettes.
Let’s Go to Burger King!
My brother-in-law came home from work wanting Burger King.
I’m working when this happens. (Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this, but my awesome manager at my day job is letting me work from here in Madrid for the summer.)
I’m sitting here, thinking I’m in Madrid, but I’m working on day job work and this guy comes in wanting Burger King?
I begin to question everything. It’s how Doctor Strange must have felt when the ancient one soul punched him, except I didn’t come back begging anyone to “teach me.”
My wife has a strict but unwritten No Burger King policy. She is willing to go to McDonald’s in Madrid. My kid has a strict No McDonalds policy, but she got outvoted.
I’m okay with going there because I get to combine the novel with the familiar by having a beer with my Maccers burger. Also, Maccers in Madrid has different burgers than those they offer in the United States. I don’t remember what the burger I had is called. Let’s just call it The Forgettable.
Maccers in Madrid also serves croquettes. They may be good, but I could never do that to Abuela. It’s one thing to gobble up croquettes served as a tapa. That’s just the mystery and magic of tapas, but to buy them… Just don’t.
Madrid has Starbucks Too
I don’t have any plans to not go to Starbucks here, but I haven’t visited yet. I keep saying I’m going to go try a coffee and see how similar it is to coffee in Ft. Worth. Eventually.
If you find something familiar in a strange land or bring back something strange to your familiar land, it’s won’t be the same.
This is Day 14 of my Summer in Spain saga that began 13 days ago.