Wednesday, November 30, 2011
So there's a huge supermarket in the basement of Corte Inglés called Hipercor. Hipercor is like the ''expensive'' grocery store and I was looking for real vanilla extract and my tutora said if any place was going to have it, it would be Hipercor. So after my class today I went to Hipercor and bummer, they didn't have vanilla extract. They did have those real vanilla beans though, where you have to scrape the caviar out but they were expensive so I didn't get them. BUT!!! my greatest discovery of the day was finding corn oil. It was like the heavens opened and God smiled down on me and said, ''I know you can't make real latin food without it.'' I love olive oil as much as the next person but you can't fry with it and I am not exaggerating, the ONLY other oil they sell around here is sunflower oil. It is the most wretched smelling stuff, it smells exactly like that 90s era perfume called Sunflowers. Who wants fried chicken that smells like flowers??
I've started cooking again and earlier this week I made ropa vieja that came out pretty great if you ask me. It only took four hours to make. [#Low&Slow] I tried taking a picture and my lens started fogging up.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
I am not an outgoing person. I find it very difficult to meet people and make new friends. In fact I can count my close friends on one hand. But what I lack in quantity I make up for in quality. That being said, I haven't met very many people here in Spain but the people I have met have been amazing. For example, my weekly visits with the doctor, I don't think he could possibly realize the impact he's had on my mental well being since I've been here. He is an amazingly upbeat, cheerful person and after our English classes I feel upbeat and cheerful! It's like free therapy without all the trauma. And considering he's paying me to speak English with him, he's always excited to explain the finer nuances of the Spanish language to me or discuss poverty in Spain or any other curiosity I might have about Oviedo.
Then there's internet café guy. You know that feeling when you become a regular somewhere, where people recognize you when you walk in? It's a feeling of belonging and that's what internet café guy has given to me. This sort of happened to me in Mexico too, you go to the same internet café enough times, you end up picking your favorite computer. I walked into the internet café here one day and internet café guy grinned at me cause my preferred computer was occupied. That simple nonverbal communication, a smile, made me feel instantly comfortable. Internet café guy even knows my preferred back up computer. I have to imagine this is what it's like when your neighborhood bartender knows exactly what you drink and when you need a single or a double.
Last week I met interview guy. Interview guy is kind of shy and nervous but that could just be because he has a major interview for a big job with a multinational corporation this week and the interview is in English. He's a bundle of nerves and he's already had 4 interviews for this job including a technical interview and they're flying him to Switzerland with two other candidates for the final interviews. I told interview guy, listen, at this point they already know you can do the job, it's just a matter of are you the right fit for them. You need to go in there and wow them with your sparkling personality. Make them see how great you are in person so there's no doubt left in their minds. Interview guy is not convinced. They gave him a long list of adjectives where he had to choose some that he thinks people would use to describe him and some that he would choose to describe himself. So we've deduced that they will probably ask him why he chose the words he did and that this is an opportunity for him to shine. Only thing is, some of his word choices were a little bit questionable. Interesting and coherent, really???? Out of all the possible choices. Ok so we went through each word and defined it and wrote out in English examples of why he chose this word and what he's done in his previous jobs that display the character traits. Word after word, interview guy was looking at me like I was a flipping genius!! I was surprised myself; I was pulling the most incredible examples out of thin air. Anyway, interview guy just needed someone to boost his confidence and he was super nice and I hope he gets the job. Also, Interview guy is the first car I've ridden in since being here in Oviedo. He lives in the suburbs and today we drove to a café to work and Interview guy exclaims, "I hate Oviedo! It is impossible to park here!" It's funny the worries you don't have when you're carless. I was sort of lamenting not having a car despite the fact that I haven't needed one once since arriving here but if I had a car I'm sure I could find all kinds of places to drive to. I miss driving.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Just to explain, normally all that furniture is inside that door to the left which is the living room but they were installing tile floors so everything is outside in the corredor, or kind of like an open-air covered porch area. Also, the water looks cloudy in the video but it's just got a lot of oxygen in it. Or at least that's my un-sciency way of explaining it.
House tour - part 1 from ordinary life on Vimeo.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I’ve been invited to a Thanksgiving potluck this weekend. I immediately responded that I’d bring mashed potatoes because I know I can make them and find all the ingredients despite the fact that I’ll have to peel 5 lbs of potatoes by myself. Then. Then I started hunting through the drawers of my meagerly equipped kitchen and realized I’d be mashing 5 lbs of potatoes with a fork. Damn it!! This means I’m going to have to spend money on some kind of kitchen tool that I will likely use only once. I am sure that they sell potato mashers in this city but I checked everywhere and couldn’t find one. And by everywhere, I mean the two stores within walking distance of my house. I do not have the transportation to drive all over looking. I checked Ikea, no dice. I checked Carrefour which is like a super Walmart or Target. They didn’t have it either. Like I said, I’m sure there’s a place but the only place left that was on my radar was El Corte Ingles. I have been SERIOUSLY AVOIDING El Corte Ingles since I got here. Corte Ingles is like Macy’s or Bloomingdales or Nordstrom plus super Target with a grocery store plus Best Buy plus Home Depot minus the lumber. It is massive. They’re all over Spain and the one here in Oviedo has like 3 separate buildings with like 6 stories each. Imagine like your favorite department store but the flagship version in NYC. I didn’t want to go in. I have been shopping deprived and everything here is different and not the same stuff you see all the time in the states and I just see and I want I want I want.
So, after my private lesson which is in the city center near the Corte Ingles, I decided I would quickly see if they had a potato masher there. At first I thought I was out of luck. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find the masher I’m used to which looks like a wavy zigzag but I would settle for the flat kind with the holes in the bottom. There were rows and rows of shiny gleaming stainless steel whisks and ladles and strainers and garlic presses, then finally, all the way in the back, I found one lone potato masher, or as the label indicated, prensa patatas. It was heavy and shiny stainless steel. I held my breath and looked for the price.
Now before I tell you how much I overpaid on a potato masher, allow me to explain my rationale. Because yes, I had to rationalize this purchase. I have to make the mashed potatoes on Saturday and I have no time tomorrow to go out and look for another masher. If I leave it til Friday there is a very good chance I’d be cursing myself Saturday as I’m mashing with a crappy fork. I can use this masher again to make mashed potatoes or even to mash beans. This masher will last a lifetime. This masher is cheaper than a plane ticket home for thanksgiving. This masher will be a sentimental reminder of my time here in Oviedo. Or maybe just a reminder of that time I spent $30 on a potato masher. Yes folks, this potato masher cost 22€ which is currently equivalent to about $30. I am aware that there are people who can eat for a month with $30. They probably already own a masher they got at Marshall’s for $7 like I did once. I guarantee you though, I will NOT be leaving this masher behind.