“Hunger is the best sauce in the world.” – Cervantes
I love to eat. Especially healthy delicious plates. “¡Este niño sí que come! [this kid can eat]”, my querida madre would tell me, after I would ask for more portions of rice to be added to my plate. Having Peruvian parents, I was blessed to enjoy arroz chaufa, a traditional Peruvian plate which was always an everlasting delight during almuerzo time for me.
Not only was I always hungry for delicious masterpieces of my chef mom, but I always hunger to explore this environment we call–world. Living inside this ‘blue marble’ lies many roads, splendid lands, beautiful animals, breathtaking sunsets, and most importantly, different cultures to learn from.
“¡Bienvenidos a Granada chicos!”–one of my site directors joyfully shouted. “Man…I am in Granada.” I awkwardly pondered during the first orientation and for the first time it hit me that I am in Spain.
You know, sometimes reality does not hit you until you actually there. Take my case for example, when I was in the US, I was like…”yea…it hasn’t hit me yet that I will be in Granada yet…” when I was packing my clothes…I was like…”yea…it hasn’t hit me yet…maybe the day of…” when I am in the airplane…”Okay, it was about to hit me…but too tired right now…maybe when this airplane lands in Spaniard soil, I will smell the fresh Spaniard soil?….”
“¡Bienvenidos a Granada chicos!”, my site director would say again. Ok, you got me…it hit me. And that’s how reality hits me most of the time…lol. One day it is only a daydream, the next day it’s reality upfront and clear.
With this reality, I became hungry. I was hungry to know more about Granada. I was hungry to mingle with Spaniards. I was hungry to explore and get lost in the narrow streets of Granada. I was hungry, and as Cervantes puts it, being hungry is the best sauce in the world.
My intent on this short blog is to share with you 5 cultural lessons that perhaps may make you ‘hungry’ for the delights of Granada.
1. A meal’s best friend: El pan
I thought I loved bread, but hombre!, Spaniards adore it. Every morning, I would get toasted bread with a delicious cream of tomato on it. For almuerzo, which was usually between the 2:30pm and 3pm window, I would get a delightful fried fish plate like the one below (we found Nemo!….just kidding. ), accompanied with pieces of bread. If you are not a bread fan, after trying the Spaniard bread, you will be screaming for more like in your favorite music concert.
2. More sunlight In Granada than moonlight in the US
Coming from the tri-state area of the east coast, where sunlight shines until 4:30pm during winter time, and around 8pm during summer time…seeing the sun from Granada till 9:45pm was different. Below is a picture taking right before the sun is setting behind the famous Sierra Nevada, one of the highest points in all Europe.
3. Remember those night cravings around 9pm before watching Netflix? Well, In Spain is call ”cena”
With the sun going to sleep at a later time than I was accustomed to, it made me understand why cena (dinner) is served at 9pm. In the US, around this time I would grab a small snack, finish reading a book or watch some Netflix/YouTube and then it was bedtime. In Granada, dinner is served at this time!
Below is picture of one of my memorable cenas: pescaito frito, fish turned around in flour and fried in olive-oil. ¡¡Delicioso!!!
4. You will feel like a character from the Disney movie ‘Aladin’ walking through some of the streets of Granada
History-time: Granada was the last recapture territory from the Moors by the Catholic Kings (Isabella & Ferdinand) in 1492. Since the 8th century, Granada became part of the Moors empire and throughout this time, vast majority of its architecture was influenced by this empire that lasted more than 700 years in the Iberian peninsula.
5. Studying in ‘Centro de Lenguas Modernas’
One of the great lessons I learned while studying in Universidad de Granada is don’t take your professors’ knowledge for granted. It may seem that going to school while wanting to visit every corner of Granada like a “are-you-serious?” moment, but a professor’s knowledge can help smooth out your stay in the great city of Granada. From learning the history of Granada, to understanding the cultural/slang words of Spain like, “Vale, nos vemos en Plaza Nueva (Okay, see you in Plaza Nueva)”, “esa película estaba muy guay (that movie was very cool)”, or “¡Venga, pero ese tío es un guiri! (¡Come on, but that dude is a foreigner!)”, all these expressions and more, I learned from my professors.
I took two classes: (1) Civilización y cultura española e islámica en España (2) Español (801, nivel avanzado). From each one of these classes I learned useful cultural information that helped me navigate my adventure in Granada. Please, do not be shy in asking any questions you may have about the country. As eager as you are to explore the hidden treasures of Granada, the professors are eager to help you unlock each one.
Remember, time flies fast like Snapchat messages. Cultivate new friendships, be quick to listen to others and slow to speak, enjoy every nights out responsibly, and never lose hunger for understanding this world through others’ eyes.