5 typical Christmas traditions of Spain -

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5 typical Christmas traditions of Spain

December 19, 2017

Christmas in Spain, as in the rest of the world, is one of the most expected holidays of the year. There are many aspects in common with the traditions of other countries, but there are other very specific that you can only live in Spain. Do you want to know them?

#1 Christmas lottery

Christmas in Spain begins with the much-awaited draw of lottery, “el Gordo” (the fat one) on the morning of 22 December.

Its history goes back to 1812, and it has the peculiarity that those in charge of “singing” the winning numbers are the children of the San Ildefonso school of Madrid with their unique intonation.

So every 22 December, illusion bursts into Spanish homes, who dream of being the lucky ones that win el Gordo, whose maximum prize has a value of 4 million euros.

Those who do not have luck with “el Gordo” of the Christmas Lottery have a second chance on 6 January with “El Niño” Lottery, which coincides with the Three Wise Men night.

#2 The Bethlehem

Maybe the decorative element that most characterizes Christmas in Spain is nativity scene portal, representation of the birth of Jesus Christ, custom coming from the catholic religion.

In every nativity scene the child Jesus can not be missing as a main part, together with the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph in a manger. Traditionally, this scene is accompanied by the mule and the ox.

If you want to expand, you can include representations of the Three Wise Men coming to Bethlehem or pastors gathered to worship the newborn. 

#3 Nochebuena

The Christmas Eve dinner in Spain takes place every 24 December. This dinner, prior to Christmas day, is a family affair and is usually celebrated in the homes of the Spaniards with the whole family.

Although the dishes vary according to each family and each area of Spain, there is something that is always true: it is a very abundant dinner, in which there are appetizers such as salads, olives, cheeses, cold meet, etcetera; main dish which can be some roast meat or fish and, finally the dessert, with a variety of sweets, including turrón and marzipan.

5 typical Christmas traditions of Spain

#4 Día de los Santos Inocentes

28 December is the Día de los Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents Day), a day when practical jokes and spoof stories are everywhere in a way very similar to April Fools’ Day in the UK. The tradition has links, some think, to the biblical story of King Herod’s massacre of the babies (innocents) in a futile attempt to kill the infant Jesus. Others think it’s all a medieval fake, with the joke on Christians, but whatever the origins, practical joke victims in Spain are known as “innocents”, and as in the UK in April, television and the media join in. In these days of “fake news”, it might be increasingly difficult to tell, but for those who enjoy finding the fake story, 28 December is the day in Spain! Happy Día de los Santos Inocentes!

#5 Three Wise Men night

Finally, the celebrations are finished on 6 January, with the Three Wise Men night. This day is mainly dedicated to younger children, because on that day they receive the long-awaited gifts.

One day before the day of celebration you can see in the streets the popular Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (The Procession of the Three Wise Men), when children take the opportunity to greet them and give them their letter with the list of gifts they wish to receive.

Afterwards, the children go to sleep and the next day find under the Christmas tree the gifts that the three wise men (Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar) have brought them.

The typical candy of this day is Roscón de Reyes, cake that carries dried fruits in the form of precious stones that adorned the mantles of the wise men.

So… Feliz Navidad!

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Take a Mediterranean break

December 26, 2017

Our society has been infected with the “hurry virus”. Not only in the office or at work, also when we read stories to our children or have dinner with our friends.

We live in a permanent race in our daily life. Be excellent at work, take time to update ourselves in our professions, attend to our family and friends and be able to dedicate a few moments to ourselves. We want to reach everything and sometimes it is impossible.

We are addicted to speed and overcoming this addiction takes time. You can not slow down quickly, but we have 5 keys to get you started in the slow movement and turn it into your #MediterraneanBreak.

Breathe

Something so basic, that we forget to do because of the speed. Take a few minutes each day to take long, deep breaths. Close your eyes if you feel like it, or contemplate the beautiful view in front of you. Breathing well relaxes and makes you live in the present. You can do it even when you are doing activities, you will enjoy them better.

Sleep

Although each person has a biological clock, it is true that we need to sleep at least 6 and a half hours a night to be emotionally well and our attention and performance works efficiently. Take advantage of these dates to sleep more and better, your body will appreciate it. Your mood too.

Exercise

Stay active. If you do not go to the gym, you can walk, ride a bike or run outdoors, whatever you prefer. Doing exercises is very healthy, it will benefit your physical shape, it will help you to relax and to drain negative emotions. Look at what surrounds you as you do it, breathe deeply and be delighted.

Enjoy your people

You know there’s nothing more comforting than a good conversation with someone close to you. But with today’s busy lifestyles we forget to do it frequently. Dedicate time to affections and personal relationships, sharing moments and laughter with others makes you release endorphins, a tranquilizer that your body produces. It is a completely natural and free medicine.

Feed yourself

We talk about eating well. To take advantage of this time to cook slowly and to enjoy the process, that even the preparation might be a meeting between friends, savour the best products of the Mediterranean diet while you talk with a good beer and some olives.

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Spanish foodie Glossary

January 10, 2018

Spanish food doesn´t always mean tapas. Often misunderstood some refer to all Spanish food as Tapas. However, there are another kind of Spanish food to discover.  The way food is served, portion size and the type of dish determines it´s name.

Here is everything you need to know about Spanish menu terminology so you can relax and simply enjoy the delicious Mediterranean diet.

#1Tapa

Tapas usually are the smallest size you can eat. While many bars and restaurants in Spain give out a free tapa, most also have a list of tapas you can pay for. These menu tapas are usually about the size of a small salad plate. Tapas are a good option if you’re looking to get a small taste of many different dishes.

For example, if you ask for tapa of tortilla de patata, they will give you a quarter of a tortilla or if you ask for a tapa of croquettes they will give you 2 or 3 croquettes.

Some of the most famous tapas in Spain are chips, peanuts and of course, the queen of tapas, table olives.

#2 Ración

Raciones are larger plates that are meant to be shared. While ración sizes vary from restaurant to restaurant, the rule of thumb is to order two or three raciones for 4 people. It is extremely common to ask the waiter if he or she thinks you’ve ordered too much food or not enough. Raciones are also often available in half-sizes or media raciones as well.

With the same example as before, if you order a ración of tortilla, they will give you an entire tortilla or if you order a ración of croquettes they will give you 6 or 8 croquettes.

#3 Pintxo

In the North of Spain (Asturias, Navarra, País Vasco and Cantabria), you will often see the typical Pintxos. It receives said name because to hold the different elements (for example, cheese, tomato, bread and meat) a stick is used, that is to say, a pintxo.

These are similar to tapas but are usually more elaborate and have that stick in them. The price is usually all the same and you pay the bill based on how many sticks are left on you plate. There are many bars around Spain selling this type of food.

#4 Montadito

This is something served on a slice of bread. They can be topped with Ham, cheese, tortilla or even guacamole with smoked salmon. It´s like an open sandwich really, served on white bread, similar to baguette bread.

Actually, we could say that it is a type of tapa, which is called montadito because it is based on bread, on which other ingredients are put (montados).

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5 Interesting facts about olives

January 17, 2018

The delicious olives, although they are originally from the Mediterranean area, have managed to conquer the heart of the whole world.

This small fruit hides a lot of interesting facts that you’ve never heard. That’s why today we bring you 5 the most interesting ones:

# 1 Colour

Many people do not know that olives change colour during ripening. If you are wondering about the difference between green and black olives, most will say that they are different kinds. In Spain, most of the black olives are the same as the green ones but they are simply ripe. However, there are some kinds of olives that are dark from their origin, ranging from a coppery colour when green to a more intense black once ripe.

# 2 Calories

Each olive has nothing more than 9 calories on average. Olives have a reputation for fattening due to their high fat content, approximately 20%. However, each olive has only 9 calories and much of its fats are very beneficial, such as Omega 3 and Omega 6. It is therefore a beneficial product for cholesterol.

# 3 Aligned

You can not eat olives directly from the tree. The olives are very bitter and hard; it would be practically impossible to eat them directly from the tree. In fact, it is the only fruit that can not be eaten directly from the tree, needs to lose its bitterness and become soft before it is edible. To eliminate that flavour they are left in brine for a while. In some cases they can be dressed with different things, like garlic or aromatic herbs. In some cases they are allowed to cure even a year to take a characteristic flavour. These varieties with a long healing time are considered gourmet and are very appreciated by lovers of cuisine and original and different dishes.

# 4 Stuffed

It is estimated that there are about 90 varieties of stuffed olives. Olives are likely to be filled with all kinds of things. Although in Spain the most famous are the anchovy stuffed olives, there are also stuffed with varieties of cheese, garlic, onion and so on up to 90 different ingredients.

# 5 Flavours

The table olives meet the four basic tastes that the palate detects: acid, bitter, sweet and salty, which allows its use in any culinary recipe without more limitation than the imagination and the skill of the cook.

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What to eat in Spain according to what area you are in

January 24, 2018

Spanish cuisine, like all great cuisines, is highly regionalized, but the homogenizing forces of modernity in general, and tourism specifically, threaten this diversity. These days you’ll find paella and sangria and patatas bravas in every corner of the country. But that just means as a traveller you need to be aware of where you are and make your food choices accordingly.

The people who find Spanish food disappointing are the ones who order paella in Madrid and sangria in San Sebastián. Of course, there is a common language that unifies Spain’s cooking — high-quality olive oil, cured pork, an abiding love of seafood — but it expresses itself in very different ways as you move around the country.

GALICIA

Up in Galicia? Eat octopus and shellfish and gooseneck barnacles and wash it down with a crisp Albariño. Galician empanada filled with chocos (cuttlefish), zamburiñas (variegated scallops), cod and raisins, tuna… anything! You must also taste Lacón con grelos (shoulder of pork with turnip tops), another winter classic based on the same ingredients and the infallible Galician gastronomy formula.

And if you are in Galicia at summer and the sun is out, is a perfect day for a churrasco! A few pork ribs, chorizo, our unbeatable marinade, a few beers, and… time to eat! Finally, don’t forget to taste Padron’s fried peppers, as Galicians say, some are hot, and some are not.

ANDALUCIA

When in Andalusia, eat jamón and fried little fish and drink sherry. Move over, gazpacho; Andalusia’s spooning out a better alternative to the chilled tomato-based soup. Salmorejo is thicker than gazpacho, but made with similar base ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil and bread.

Tiny, delicate clams known as coquinas are harvested from the waters off Andalusia’s coastline. However, these little treasures aren’t always available; they’re so treasured that only certain numbers of them can be brought to shore.

Originally brought over by the Sephardi (Spanish Jews), aubergines are a staple in Andalucian kitchens, whether in pistou (ratatouille-like vegetable stew) or deep-fried and then drizzled with molasses (made in Malaga).

VALENCIA

No doubt, eat paella. Sample Spain’s most famous rice dish at its birthplace – but try the others too! There are also ‘sticky’ and ‘soupy’ versions (meloso and caldoso) variants too.

If your only experience of eel has been in its grilled, unagi nigiri form, all-i-pebre will make for an intriguing second foray. Its name refers not to the fish but to the sauce itself: a soupy blend of garlic, paprika, and ground almonds, in which chunks of fresh eel and potato are simmered to the point of melt-in-your mouth perfection.

In Valencia, the familiar refresher of horchata is made exclusively from chufas, a local variety of tiger nut. Order a glass of this ice-cold milky drink with a serving of the amusingly-named fartons. Not as sweet as a doughnut, nor as savoury as a bread roll, these elongated, sugar-dusted dipping pastries are the perfect vehicle for soaking up horchata’s sugary goodness.

Another dish that you must taste is Esgarraet. Esgarraet is cured salt cod, mixed with sweet red peppers, garlic, and olive oil. So delicious!

Our advice, spend a bit of time learning about the great regional specialties of the country and seek them out aggressively. An hour or two of reading online will make your food experience exponentially better.

And of course, there are some dishes that you can order without fear in any area of Spain such as tortilla de patatas, calamari or delicious olives. And, enjoy your meal!

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10 Curiosities about Mediterranean food

January 31, 2018

Many studies say that one of the healthiest diets is the Mediterranean one. It is known all over the world! And you? How much do you know about Mediterranean diet? Here 10 curious facts that you probably did not know about such delicious cuisine:

1. Did you know that the Mediterranean diet is on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity?

2. Experts claim that drink a glass of wine daily has numerous beneficial effects for our organism.

3. Garlic, which is the essential complement of Mediterranean cuisine, reduces cholesterol and combats hypertension because it contains essential nutrients and vitamins for our organism. In addition, garlic is depurative, diuretic and antioxidant.

4. Salad is one of the star dishes of the Mediterranean diet. Eating a good salad with vegetables regulates the intestinal flora and provides fibre and many nutrients.

5. Consuming legumes regularly reduces hypertension and improves control of blood sugar levels.

6. Starting the day with an orange juice fills us with energy and fills us with good humour.

7. Research shows that if you eat tomatoes regularly you have less risk of spills.

8. Wheat has been cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula since the Neolithic, it has a fundamental part in the Mediterranean diet.

9. Grapes help protect the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Eating grapes is essential in summer.

10. Olive oil, helps fight aging and protects the brain

And an extra:

11. The star of the Mediterranean diet, table olives, are a source of vitamins A and C that help improve our defences.