Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Lesson in Fluency and Flamenco

A lesson on Castilian Spanish-

Unbeknownst to me, there are many.many different dialects of the Spanish language.  There is the spanish that is spoken in Central and South American countries, the spanish spoken by people from Mexico, and the spanish spoken by people from Spain.  There are 4 different dialects spoken in Spain- Basque, Catalan, Galician and Castilian (or castellano).  Castilian is the most widespread so we will learn a few words in that. 

They have a lot of the same familiar phrases:
Hasta Luego - See you later   Hola - hello    Por Favor - please
Gracias - thank you    Como esta usted? - how are you?

And some different words :
Castilian                Latin American Spanish              English
vale                           de acuerdo                                  ok
patata                           papa                                       potato
coche                          carro                                         car
conducir                     manejar                                    to drive

Interesting the differences in the "same" language but not at all surprising if you go back and read the post about the English language from England week.  

One word that is the same in both languages?  Baile (or dance)!!!

A lesson on Flamenco -
Flamenco dancing is a genre of dance, music and song from the southern Spain area of Andalusia.  It includes "cante" or singing, "toque" or guitar, "baile" or dancing, and "palmas" or handclaps all done in a fast rhythm and in beautiful costumes.   It can be found in Spain in many forms from the informal juerga, where dancers are accompanied with table banging, to the theatrical show, where a large band is playing and the dances are very choreographed.  It has also become popular around the world - Japan has almost as many flamenco schools as Spain! 

My husband's mother's family has some roots in Spain.  Her aunts used to travel the U.S. putting on Flamenco shows and became quite well known.  Unfortunately, they are no longer with us to give us a lesson so we resorted to watching a youtube video for lessons. There were many to choose from or you just stomp your feet and clap you hands to the music!  My Aunt went on a trip to Spain a few years ago and brought back a cute Flamenco dress and shoes so we had the costume.  With the internet (and the right shoes) anything is possible!! 
Aunt Ariel and Rita Chavez doing the real dance!
My little dancer strutting her stuff
Ole !
The shoes make the outfit!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Toro! Toro!

Toro!  Toro!!

One of Spain's oldest traditions, and it's national sport, is not one of it's nicest-  it's bullfighting, and many see this as more animal cruelty than sport.  Yet still it goes on, as it has for over 1000 years!  Each year tens of thousands of people watch as the Matador and the toro (bull) fight to the death (the bull's death) in bullfighting arenas all over Spain, I however, am not about to reinact something so violent at home.  There will be no blood shed on my watch!  So we will, instead, reinact something just as traditional (and pointless) - the RUNNING OF THE BULLS!!

The Running of the Bulls (encierro in Spanish) is a crazy act of bravery (and show of stupidity) where men and women (mostly men) run alongside bulls that are let loose in a sectioned off area of town.  Encierros are held in towns and villages all across Spain and Portugal but the most famous one is in Pamplona Spain.  They originally started when bulls for the bullfights were being brought from the ranches to the bullfighting arenas in town.  Young men would show their courage and move the herd along by taunting them and running with them.  More and more people started doing this (I'm sure against their wives and mothers' wishes) and a tradition was born.  Runners must be over 18 and traditionally wear white shirt and pants with a red belt and neckerchief.  They carry a newspaper to whack the bull and taunt it (make it mad is more like it).  A herd of 15 bulls is released and they run through the town to the bull ring.  In Pamplona it is only about 903 yards and is over in about 5 minutes.  As short as that is though, every year between 200-300 people are hurt, mostly from falls, and since 1924, 15 people have been killed.   Knock on wood, but hopefully our reinactment will be much less dangerous!

For this game you will need:
  • 1 set of bullhorns for the "bull" we made ours from foam sheets
  • belt or sash with strips of paper or ribbon taped or velcroed on (like flag football belts)
  • as many runners as you can get
  • big grassy (or not) area to run in
  • designated areas for start and home base
How to play:  Decide who is going to be the bull and put on horns and belt. Runners disperse around designated area and yell "Toro" as the bull starts to run towards home base and avoid the runners who are trying to get the ribbons off the bull.  If the bull can get to home base with his ribbons intact he/she wins and gets to pick either to be the bull again or who will be the next bull.  If a runner gets the ribbon he/she wins and gets to be the next bull or pick who is the next bull.  Sound like fun?  We're off to the park to find out...

The Bull (note the foam horns)
The runners trying to get the bulls tail (we had 2 tails)
They each "won" so they got to pick who was next...guess who?
Lucky Daddy gets to be the bull again!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The next Picasso?

Project 2:  The next Picasso...

Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists to ever come from Spain.  Sure there were others, Goya, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, but Picasso was the most influential and well-known.

Born in 1881 in Malaga Spain as Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisimo Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, or Pablo for short, he was a prolific artist from a very young age.  According to his mother his first word was "piz" short for lapiz (pencil in Spanish).   He soon became an artist in many different areas - oil painting, sculpture,drawing, and even architecture.  He was one of the first artists to achieve worldwide fame and wealth while he was alive to enjoy it and he inspired many artists with his unique spin on art.

He is credited, along with Georges Braque, with co-founding the Cubist movement in art.  In Cubism, artists "take apart" and analyze objects in terms of the shapes they are made up of.  A branch of Cubism is called Synthetic Cubism and in that art form the artist uses bits of paper or other "real" objects to make compositions.  It was the first use of collage as an art form.  It is something that my kids and I can totally do :)  Maybe...

For the project you will need:
  • Something "inspirational" >
  • Misc. bits of craft paper
  • glue
  • paint and paint brushes
  • scissors
  • willing artists
Tell them they should look at the shapes and colors they see and try to make that on their paper.  My daughter got it, she's 5 and pretty artistic.  My son cut up confetti for awhile and then left :)
But if you check out the final masterpiece I think you'll agree...
Well, I might be a tad biased.  She had fun, we have lots of confetti, and they sat there and listened while I talked about Cubism and Picasso for 5 minutes straight - so I'm calling it a job well done.
My budding Picassos !!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 4: Spain

Week 4: Bienvenidos a Espana!

Hola! Welcome to Spain!  I will be fully immersing us in the culture this week by writing all the posts in Castillian Spanish - one of the 4 co-official languages of Spain.   NOT!  Yeah, that's totally not gonna happen. You will get my usual badly written English with my poor punctuation and overuse of emoticons :)  Enjoy.
This week we will be exploring Spain.  We have been putting a star on the map of each country we visit, so we put our star at 40.2ºN/3.4ºW (did you notice I leaned how to make the degree sign?) that latitude/longitude marks Madrid, the capital of Spain.  An interesting thing about Madrid, it is located in the exact center of the country! Spain is located on what is known as the Iberian Peninsula of Europe but actually a few of it's cities, Centa and Melilla, are on the African continent which is only 12 miles from mainland Spain.
Spain, like England, is a monarchy that has a parliamentary government.  King Juan Carlos has ruled since 1975, when he took over leadership from the dictator Francisco Franco, who had ruthlessly ruled Spain from 1939 - 1975.  During that period many people emigrated from Spain, but when King Juan Carlos restored democracy, Spain once again became a popular tourist destination and new home for many immigrants.
Spain has become a leader in renewable energy, mostly solar power and wind energy.  They have the most extensive high-speed rail system in all of Europe and are only second to China in having the world's most extensive.  Pardon the pun, but Spain is moving fast!  Except between the hours of 1:30 and 3:30, when they still traditionally close shops and restaurants for a siesta because dinner is not typically until late at night!
This week we will try to touch on some of the most famous of Spanish customs and foods.  We will try to "run with the bulls", paint like Picasso, dance the Flamenco (!), and try some delicious food.  Let's start with the food :)  Spanish food is very much influenced by the many different cultures who have and still live there.  Being surrounded by the sea and oceans, seafood is a big part of their diet, garlic, olive oil and rice are also staples.  Put all those ingredients together and you have our first project-  Paella!
Project 1: Arroz con Calabacines (summer squash paella)
I got this recipe from a great blog at and have changed a few ingredients to match what we had on hand but there are lots of great recipes to check out, including what I take to be the traditional seafood paella.  My family doesn't eat a lot of seafood, I know it's good for you but it is a taste I never really acquired and I'm afraid I'm passing that on to my kids, so we made a vegetable paella.  I'm not sure of the origin of the dish but it's delicious and I'm sure if you like seafood that version is good too.
For the recipe you will need:

  • 1/4 - 1/3 c olive oil (I was out -used canola)
  • 1 c spanish rice or Italian arborio (could only find arborio)
  • 2 - 2 1/2 c hot water
  • 2 medium zucchini cut in small wedges
  • 1 onion cut into teeny-tiny bits so my hubby wouldn't see
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/3 c chopped italian parsley
  • handful of cherry tomatoes or one large cut up
  • sm. pinch saffron ground with a little salt
  • 1 t pimenton- look in the spice section, it's there. Spanish paprika- I had pimenton ahumado which is smoked -yum!
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 c roasted red pepper, piquillo peppers or pimentoes
1.  In a heavy skillet or paella pan, add oil and onions and cook until onions are soft.  Add squash, tomatoes, garlic and most of parsley.  Cook 5 mins or so.
2.  Add rice and stir well to get rice coated with the oil.  Let the rice cook a few minutes then add pimenton (careful it burns easily)
3.  Add 2 cups of hot water, saffron and salt.  Stir, let come to a boil and turn down heat to Medium.  Let rice simmer 20 minutes stirring occassionally.  Check to see that it's not burning on bottom (add more water if needed).
4.  Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Apparently this is an important step!  Garnish with a little parsley and some peppers.  
 This was really, really good :) My husband even ate it and it had 2 ingredients he hates = onions and peppers!  The kids tried it but didn't really like it too much (they prefer soy sauce on their rice).  I think with some chorizo cooked into it it would be a great one-dish meal...I'm keeping this recipe nearby because as the next picture will show - it was a hit!!
Scraped Clean!!