Let’s open a Tapas Bar in London!

With top quality, authentic Spanish food. Not these frozen tapas you get in La Tasca (the Spanish MacDonald’s, according to my friend)…

British people do love a bit of Spain.“Oooh! I just love some Tapas!” cry the people who come to visit me.

I understand. The idea of ‘lots of different bits’ of food to share is very appealing and novel to us Brits.

Yet, some ideas the Spaniards have about British alimentation are funny. Talking about the Tapas Bar. My friends: “We’ll have to take Olive Oil with us, you can’t buy it in England”. Me: “Of course you can!!”

My friends: “Pero aceite de OLIVA?? Most British people cook with butter, and if not they use vegetable oil!!” At my university we all cooked with olive oil – a couple of quid from Tesco :).

Tapas

Another classic: “And of course, we’ll serve cold beer! Nada de esa cerveza caliente!” Me: “We don’t drink warm beer, you’re getting confused with Germany. If our beer’s warm it’s because we drink pints, and once you get half-way through”…

I laughed and suggested that perhaps we should concentrate on the food.

That was when we realized… none of us are actually capable of producing “Top quality, authentic Spanish food”. No pasa nada. We’ll learn ;).

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I’ll study… mañana.

Spaniards are famous for postponing everything to ‘mañana, mañana”. Is this fair? Hmmm. They are generally more relaxed and less obsessed with ‘their careers’ than the British for example…

However, times are changing and with ‘la crisis’ it’s productivity or loss. Spaniards work for some of the longest hours in Europe, but they are not up there on productivity… Not currently, anyway.

One thing the Spanish do leave for tomorrow is English. El inglés: La asignatura pendiente.  Adults have learned English since they were small but many are embarrassed to say more than “Hello, how are you?”

Spanish TV and films are dubbed, which doesn’t help. But with digital TV and the web 2.0 this is now changing.

Besides, Spanish companies now demand that their employees know English, and many Spaniards want to move abroad to find employment…

Can a ‘mañana, mañana’ mentality survive in our fast-paced, crisis-stricken world? Spain wouldn’t be Spain if, to some small extent, it didn’t :(.

What is THAT?! Observing to reproduce…

I don’t mean reproduce in the sense of creating babies. I mean to reproduce sounds, thoughts and actions. I failed today when I pretended to be a cruise ship (to teach the word ‘cruise’) in class…My students could not contain their laughter. My simulation was closer to a drunken train. Obviously I have not observed cruise ships carefully enough. I have not come to empathize with them. After laughing a lot with my students I took away an important lesson. Observation and empathy are key for learning, communication and success. We need to empathize with the things and people that surround us. We never know when we may have to reproduce. We might not be able to know how a cruise ship thinks and feels, but we should aim for that with students, colleagues, friends, family…and all the members of those networks we find ourselves woven into…