Saturday, September 8, 2012

Buena suerte

Having glitches with this post. Hope it works.

Sometimes it's just better to be lucky. Yesterday was my interview. Got the internship. Also learned my last name is from Navarre. Managed to miss my bus stop but still got there earlier than my, well I guess he's my boss now. I'm starting to get used to the kissing cheeks as greetings and goodbyes thing. My boss bought my coffee too. That's apparently also standard operation here.

Spent the rest of my Friday on the beach. La Playa Concha, or Shell Beach, is the most beautiful beach in the city. The water is warm (at least to me, because beaches where I come form are less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit yearround) and so salty you float. Super fun. Sun bathed after swimming for hours. Walked home in the sunset and thought, "this is the life."

Also managed to give directions to four different people in Spanish, English and even Italian. Granted they asked me how to get to places I was very familiar with (El Catedral de Buen Pastor, la Playa Concha, Amara and the main bus station) but still, I feel accomplished. I was even told by the British family I explained the bus system to that my California accent was "lovely".

My host mom is a fantastic cook. As I found out today, all the women in her family are.

Having a huge Saturday lunch with four generations of Spaniards has been pretty much the best thing I've done so far in Spain. Before that though, I went out to La Parte Vieja with my host parents and their adorable granddaughter Carlota. Apparently today is the only day of year in which they take down the tiny statue of la Madonna and you can put a coin down and make a wish. I think my host parents called her la Madonna Negra because she's made out of a black stone and Negra is the color black in Spanish. After that we went down la Avenida 31, which is the oldest street in Spain. It's the only part of San Sebastian to survive the razing of the city during the Napoleonic Wars. Now it's home to the famous Basque gastronomic societies and the best pintxos in Spain. Pinchos or pintxos, are a form of tapas, tiny yummy bar snacks. Pintxos are distinct from other tapas because they are usually served over bread. They're super delicious. the one I had today was jamon Iberico, chorizo and mushrooms  with some kind of amazing sauce and a cerveza. I highly recommend trying every type of pintxo if you are ever in San Sebastian. It will be worth the adventure.

After our tiny adventure to La Parte Vieja, we went to my host mother's older sister's house, where I got to meet more of the family. I met my host mother's mother and her sister, and my host mother's younger sister and her husband. With the three sisters, two husbands, the mother and her sister, three of my host mother's children, one boyfriend, one granddaughter and me, we had thirteen people for Saturday lunch. It was so much fun.

We started off with a type of sausage that is very typical of the Basque Country. I forget its name but it's delicious. Apparently the student who lived with this host family before me loved it so much that he bought four packages of it, put it in his dirty laundry in his suitcase and made it back to the States with it. We had those sausages with bread. After that we had bread with pâté. The next course was croquettas de jamon. Theyre yummy fried croquettes with tiny pieces of salted ham inside. We each were served two until another plate emerged from the kitchen and we were all served two more croquettas. Not even through appetizers and I was already glad I passed on my host parents' offer of more pintxos earlier. The main course was some kind of amazing dish of stewed potatoes with medallions of the most tender pork I have ever eaten. I was given what they a small portion to try. It was like three scoops but I liked it so much I asked for a little more and I got more than the original "small" portion I had been served. It was super tasty though. As is the norm here, I cleared my plate of the sauce by dipping my bread in it. Also, the red wine they served was fantastic. Desert was a cake because it will be my host sister Ana's boyfriend Alberto's birthday on Tuesday. The cake consisted a thin layer of sponge cake, a fruit filling and nata (whipped cream) on top. After that they served cookies. I had to pass. Of the thirteen people, only three passed. Everyone else had more than one cookie. Then came the customary after dinner espresso. I'm very unusual in that I take my coffee sola, without milk or sugar. Alberto insisted that if I was going to drink my coffee like that, I should have brandy in it at least. They all also insisted that I try a local liquer made from herbs. Depending on how you drink it, it either tastes like licorice or cough drops. It was really yummy once I figured out the right way to drink it.

Also, it's fascinating how after eating that much, it's near impossible to get drunk. Also, I'm beginning to wonder how everyone here is decently healthy. I have not seen a single horribly obese person. Nnot everyone is perfectly fit, but they just seem so much healthier than Americans, even with eating a ton of  bread with every meal. Maybe it's because there is only one McDonalds in all of San Sebastian's and the only reason people go there is to meet with friends and go elsewhere...

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