Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Battle of the Kitchens: España vs. USA

Now that I've lived here for over a month, I have raided Virginia's refrigerator enough times to know the differences in the staples that she keeps versus what I would normally have in my fridge. Some things are wonderful new additions that I will likely incorporate in my fridge, and others will stay in her repertoire only. I am beginning to understand that Virginia's fridge is not your typical Spanish fridge, since Maria Asun's fridge is more similar to mine. Here is the showdown and the 12 differences of Virginia's kitchen vs. Mine.

TMax's kitchen versus Virginia's kitchen

Virginia's Kitchen

Las mandarinas
Las mandarinas
1. Las mandarinas, or tangerines, abound plentiful in her fruit bowl. At times, we will eat two or three in a row after a meal, or just as a snack during the day. They are quite delicious and as easy to peel as they are to eat. With six of us in the house, we eat bags of these things every week.

2. Americans eat muffins for breakfast, but I rarely eat them, and certainly never buy them. I'm just not really a fan. Virginia buys the bags of magdalenas, or mini muffins, of which I would need to eat 5 just to be satisfied. If I'm gonna eat a muffin, I prefer one with icing or cream filling, aka a donut or cupcake.

Jamón Iberico
Jamón Iberico
3. I'm not even sure if Serrano or Iberico ham is sold outside of Spain, but if it is, I've never bought it. It tastes pretty good, but it is quite expensive, and given my "frugality", I would be unlikely to buy it even if it is available wherever I live.

4. Coca Cola Light is Virginia's kryptonite. She has the 2L bottles at home, orders it when we go out to eat, and asks for it whenever we are at other people's homes. She is a fanatic and should buy stock in Coca Cola. I absolutely detest sugar-free drinks, and I'm not a big soda drinker, so you won't find it in my fridge.

5. Virginia has a giant jar of Nutella, or chocolate-flavored hazelnut spread, in her cabinet. The boys love chocolate sandwiches and I've even found myself putting it on my toast in the morning. It is delicious, but I just never bought it because I wouldn't eat it unless someone else put it on something for me, like a crepe.

6. Many of the European countries have bread as a staple, and Spain is no different. I buy bread once a month or so, and then usually throw most of it away due to molding. In Virginia's house, bread is sucked down almost as fast as the mandarinas. 

Tim's Kitchen

1. What American doesn't have a small bottle, if not the 48-person economy sized bottle, of ketchup & mustard? They are like salt & pepper, so I have to keep them together, and always have both. Virginia makes her own tomato sauce, so she has no need for ketchup, and they just don't seem to eat mustard at home.

2. The longer I am here, the more stereotypes about Spanish people = Mexican or Latin American people, are being broken. Salsa is not a mainstay in the Spanish culture, but it is in my fridge. I put it on omelettes, which I eat everyday, plus on tacos and burritos. (FYI, salsa is Spanish for "sauce", so any sauce like soy sauce or steak sauce is called "salsa" in Spain)

3. "Sugar, water, and color" is the recipe for one of the most delicious drinks ever - KoolAid. I haven't even seen it in the stores here, though I confess I haven't really looked either. There are always at least 2 packets of red, blue, and purple KoolAid in my house.

4. I cook with a lot of spices, particularly fresh spices. I always have fresh rosemary, basil, mint, and cilantro. And to address the stereotypes again, cilantro is a popular spice in Mexican food, but not in Spanish food. I love cilantro and cook with it to make a lot of dishes, and all of the Mexican dishes I prepare. Virginia only has dried spices, and even those are minimal compared to my zombie apocalypse-proof spice cabinet.

5. Virginia's kitchen, like every other kitchen I have seen in Europe, does not have a garbage disposal. I honestly don't understand how they do it. I'm not used to throwing egg shells in the garbage, and it feels like I'm littering or something. Plus, I absolutely hate having to clean out the food trap in the kitchen sink after a meal. A garbage disposal is a beautiful, albeit lazy, godsend.

6. How does one not have hot sauce in their house? Not tabasco, but a cover-all sauce for meats and foods. I love spicy foods, and Virginia's family does not, which explains their lack of "wonder sauce". I keep mine in the fridge because it's a vegetable. It's the main reason that I get my 5 per day.

Check out round 2 of Battle of the Kitchens!
Location: Pamplona, Navarre, Spain


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