Despite years of diligent questioning by some of the world’s top stand-up comedians, we still have not answered the age-old question, “What is the deal with airline food?” In my metal tube high above the Atlantic ocean, I could have sworn my “cheddar” cheese was American cheese, and my vinaigrette dressing was a grey, gelatinous mass in a tiny plastic cup. Fortunately, I had fudge my grandmother brought from Maine and baked tofu sticks I made from an Eastern NC Barbecue sauce. The TSA had to take extra precautions with the fudge, but after what they assured me were necessary tests, they proclaimed it both safe and delicious.
Upon arrival in Madrid, I had my first Spanish conversation with an actual Spaniard! It went like this, “Su habla ingles?”
My second Spanish conversation with a Spaniard went like this, “Su habIa ingles?”
This Spaniard was the concierge at our hotel and she told us that “Gracias” is pronounced “Grathias” in Madrid. She also told us that we wouldn’t have to wait until the afternoon to get into our room, which was good news. In our room, some cards written in English and Spanish took an anti-nihilist approach to getting us to conserve water and energy.
The room itself had a clever design to conserve energy as well – in order to use electricity you have to put your room key in a slot in the wall. When you take it out, all the electricity to the room is shut off. No more leaving lights on when you wander away.
We wandered away to a supermarket, where my roommate, who prefers to be known only as J, explained that the greatest place to experience a country’s food is in its supermarket. So we bought some chorizo and serrano and various cheese for easy meals when we weren’t eating out. J was particularly impressed with his semicurado, which he said was made from goat,sheep, and cow milk mixed together. Maasdam is a dutch cheese in swiss style. It looks and tastes like swiss cheese. I bought some “bananos” and “zanahorias” too for good measure.
J also bought bottled water to avoid drinking Spanish water, since he’d had a bad experience in Switzerland. I decided that a risk of a little short-lived intestinal discomfort was a small price to pay to at least give the first-world municipal water supply a chance before caving to stolen, overpriced, plastic-wrapped water.
J was very proud of his Spanish conversation. It started when we didn’t know that the cashier wanted us to get a pen for her. Another Spaniard behind us grew tired of waiting for us to figure out what she was pantomiming, and went and got the pen himself, rolling his eyes and mumbling something to her about “Americanos.”
“Si, Americanos,” agreed J.
Then we returned to the hotel, AC Hotel Los Vascos, and I finished writing this entry. After all this speaking Spanish, it’s fun to think back to when my girlfriend thought one of the most interesting things about me was that i didn’t know Spanish. Well, if she thinks I’m so ignorant, this is what I have to say to her. “Guten tag, Alice! Guten tag straight from Spain itself!”