Culture Shock, Uncategorized

Are there really more Spanish vegetarians?

I’ve just got back from a barbecue, in February. Fair enough, what started off as a planned barbeque did actually just end up as lunch indoors because of some mean looking clouds, but the meat loving idea was there.

Slice of Jamón anyone? Photo by Ivana

That thought of meat sizzling on the hot coals as early as February was definitely a first – I normally wait until at least May. It was great getting stuck into some burgers and pork though. I actually tried fresh spinach for the first time, which might have actually been the highlight.

I could never become a vegetarian. I see the benefits and like the idea of it, but I don’t think I could get through a week without some meat sliding onto my plate, especially as I live in Spain, and my wife is a meat lover. So, I was astonished to read today on Think Spain, that nearly 1 in 13 Spaniards are now vegetarians or vegans. According to this article titled Vegetarian revolution, the number of restaurants and food stores catering exclusively for vegetarians and vegans has doubled since 2011.

The question on my meaty lips is how many of those vegetarians are hard core ones who never touch, smell or even look at meat and fish, and how many allow themselves to eat jamón. In the restaurant round the corner from where I work, I swear they had never even heard of the word ‘vegetariano’ until we had a teacher who didn’t like meat about 10 years ago. They actually suggested she eat jamón, I mean, who doesn’t eat jamón? I also know a teacher who considers herself as a vegetarian, but does have the occasionally leg of ham.

I’ve never thought about the impact of being a vegetarian in Spain, but it must be pretty hard work. The only pure vegetarian meal I’ve had out is pisto (a Spanish equivalent of ratatouille), and it’s one of my favourite dishes ever. I eat a lot of veg during the week, pisto, spinach with chickpeas, salad, and whatever else I can stomach, but when the weekend comes it is time for carne.

Eating out in Spanish restaurants is great, we don’t do it so much anymore, but meat is always on our wonky table somewhere. There’s just so many types you can have. When I was in a restaurant in Rota last summer, there was a great big chalk painted drawing of a pig on the wall, and all the parts were labelled with the specific name of the meat. One of my favourites has always been solomillo, and I found out that was the back part of the back. I also like presa, which is the front part of the back.

I can see why more and more Spaniards are becoming vegetarians though – it’s healthier, cheaper, and morally right. I also think it’s about time restaurants are catering more for those non-meat lovers. Compared to back home, I miss the option of having veggies when I go out for a meal. Whether I’ll chose them with so much lovely meat available is another thing.

What about you? Have you had any problems being a vegetarian in Spain? Do you think you are well catered for?

Expat Focus blogs, Uncategorized

Is it easy to bring up bilingual children?

Bilingual Spanish kids? How do you do it? Photo by Estrelas

Nope. At least not as easy as I thought it would be. In my latest article for Expat Focus titled Bringing up bilingual children just isn’t that easy I give examples of other parents I know and their experiences with battling with the two languages, my own situation, and also some tips for anyone in the early stages with young kids.

For a look at other articles I’ve written about life as an expat have a look at my column page.

Culture Shock

El enchufe in Spain, is it wrong?

Enchufe in Spain…it’s who you know…Photo by Daquella Manera

If you’re not familiar with the term, enchufe, then here’s a definition: the influence or recommendation of someone to get a job, or similar benefit, without the qualifications or merit. It other words, getting work or something of use because of who you know, not what you’ve done.

I’ll give you an example. Imagine the Head of a school has 14 brothers and sisters. Now imagine that all of those brothers and sisters were teachers, and just by chance, they all happened to work for same Head because they got them the job, well, that would be a massive enchufe.

After reading an article this week on El Pais English, titled The Dirty Business of nepotism at Seville University, I wasn’t shocked. After checking what nepotism meant in the dictionary (favouritism to family), I read that Maria Luisa Diaz, a cleaning supervisor, gave 22 cleaning jobs to family and friends. This includes close family, in-laws, neighbours, and it’s even been reported that she gets her dog to run errands for her around the premises.

Does it really matter if the boss of a cleaning company has helped out her relatives? I guess not. What’s wrong in helping people you know? After all, she must have trusted them, and what’s more important than trust in the workplace?

The whole enchufe business is ripe in Seville, and I think Andalucía, but I can’t honestly comment about the rest of Spain (maybe you could below). It’s a phrase I learnt early on. I remember a comment from a student in a business class as we were talking about work ethics. Three of the employees were cousins, and their uncle was the boss.

‘I had to work my balls off to get this job. I had to do oposiciones, which took nearly 3 years of study, but these guys got in by a big fat enchufe.” I had to laugh as the cousins shrugged.

I guess really it comes down to who you know, not what you know, but isn’t that the same in any industry around the world? If you get on with people, then they’ll be more likely help you out.

I think the main issue is that there are loads of enchufes in politics, but there’s no surprise there.

If I could get my nephew a job in the future in the school where I work then I would. If I have some writing contacts in the publishing industry and my daughter decides to become a writer, then I’ll help her out, why wouldn’t I?

The problems come into play when other people miss out. Going back to schools. The system to become a primary and secondary school is extremely complicated. Basically you have to get a degree in teaching, then pass exams and fall in the top 10% before you are given a slight chance of a job, and even then it might not be in the same city, or even region. So, if a director of a school sorted out their relatives a job, but they hadn’t done the necessary exams, then I guess that is unfair as they have done over the ‘system.’

Personally, I’ve only ever benefitted from an enchufe once, and it wasn’t related to work. A student’s father is a lawyer, and helped me with some major issues when buying my property. If he hadn’t been around when we were closing the deal, then we could have lost a lot of money. I offered to pay him, but he wouldn’t accept, so I bought him a lovely bottle of red instead. Can that be considered as an enchufe too? If so, then what’s the problem? People help each other, you look after your own, and so I don’t see the problem.

My wife, however, did get a massive enchufe when she got a job working for Iberia. There were loads of brothers and sisters and cousins working there, but we didn’t complain.

Maybe you know of more incidents of the enchufe? Have you suffered because of it? Leave a comment below.

Blogs about Spain

Best Spain posts: drinking in Spain, civil war in Malaga, plus more…

I’ve decided to do a weekly post about the top 5 blogs and articles I read about Spain, and expat life. The main reason is to share the love, spread some loving, and love thy neighbours. So, here goes.

My favourite red wine, Beronia, crianza. Photo by Raúl P

Drinking in Spain

Yes, there is plenty, but what are the rules? Check out this post on Spain Scoop by Kirstin Hollingsworth titled No Gin and Tonics before dinner.

Camino Plans

Doing the Camino de Santiago has always been a dream of mine. If you’re interested in following someone on a walk, then check out this latest blog by Maggie on Trepidatious Traveller about her plans for camino 2017.

Tortilla de Patatas

Best way to a man’s heart? With one of these bad boys. Check out this recipe on The Local about how to make the perfect tortilla de patatas (potato omelette).

Civil War in Malaga

If you’re interested in the civil war in Spain, then you need to be following Caroline Angus Baker who seems to be an expert on the subject. Her latest blog 80 years since the Malaga-Almeria Massacre, gives an indepth account of what happened.

Just how safe is rural Spain?

This is quite a moving, and sad, story on El Pais in English, about how a British woman, Illona Mitchel, was treated really badly, or rather her animals were, on the Day of King’s in Granada.

That’s all for this week. Happy reading.



Is Brexit going to force Brits out of Spain?

I think it’s taken a while for this whole Brexit nonsense to sink in, but it finally is, after almost seven months. I guess I’m actually a bit miffed, confused, and concerned about what is really going to happen.

Time to panic about Brexit? Photo by Frankenstein

After reading an article on The Olive Press about how Theresa May has had talks with the Bearded Rajoy regarding whether or not they’ll be slinging out all the British Expats from Spain, I’m starting to consider the consequences.

I’ve been living in Seville since 2005. I’m married to a Spanish woman, have two Spanish kids, and we own a house. I’ve been paying my taxes since I arrived, unlike a lot of Spanish nationals, and like to think I contribute to the welfare of the Spanish community, since I’m an English teacher.

So, would they actually sling me out? For being British? Surely it would cause an uproar to decide on kicking us out, I mean, the majority of us probably voted to stay in Europe, I know I did.

Is someone just going to turn up at my door one day and kick me out my own house? Maybe they’ll come to my workplace and drag me out while I’m explaining the difference between past simple and past continuous? Or perhaps catch me ‘in the street’ as I’m walking my kids to school and inform me that I’m just not wanted anymore?

It just seems bizarre to me that they’d be able to kick us out. I’m hoping I’m safe, but I guess I might have to get some sort of Spanish nationality, which I don’t want to. I love Spain, but have no interest in giving up my British passport. From what I’ve heard, if I want to be a Spanish national, then Britain will only allow me to have one passport.

According to the article, it seems as though May and Rajoy were in talks for a whole 25 minutes, probably enough time for a quick beer and a tapas, and decided that it was “important to think about the future relationship as well as the detailed exit arrangement, so that we can give greater certainty for people and businesses who want to live and work in each other’s countries.”

I like that, ‘think about,’ that’s all everyone has been doing since the results came through, but when are they going to come to an agreement? I hope she does, for her, and the local Spanish people’s sake. Can you imagine what 300,000 peeved off Brits might end up doing to Spain? It could be like Loret de Mar, but on a national scale.

What do you think? Are you worried about getting kicked out of Spain? Would you become a Spanish national to avoid losing your life here? Or would you be glad to go?


Best websites for following Spanish news…

You would have thought that by living in Sevilla, I’d have a pretty updated and expansive knowledge of exatly what’s going on in the country, sadly I don’t. Thanks to my 4pm start time and 10pm finish time, it’s quite tricky to fit in the 3pm and 9pm news bulletins on the TV.  So, after 11 years in the country, I’ve decided to pay more attention and have started following the news more. I normally do it in Spanish, just to improve my vocabulary and reading skills, but now and then I feel lazy and want to quickly scan the headlines, which is why I’ve come up with this list of websites to keep updated with Spanish news. Here they are, in no particular order.

He must be keen to catch up on the news, being out in the cold… Photo by Penseiro

The Local

This is ‘Spain’s news in English’ which is exactly what I’m looking for. The Local has interesting news, sport, and lifestyle articles, plus a few on ‘life in Spain’.

El Pais, in English

El Pais (The Country) is a popular broadsheet style newspaper in Spain.

Typically Spanish

This website is not only about news, but also has great tips on things to do and links to hotels.

Think Spain

This is an excellent site for up-to-date news, features, and general information about Spain.

On the Pulse

Not sure exactly how ‘on the pulse’ these guys are as the last articles were in October 2016, but might be worth checking out in case they do come back.

Spanish News Today

This one is slightly more updated. Check it out for news on weather, politics, sports, and both national and international news.

The Olive Press

I used to read this in the printed form back in the day. Now it looks as though the website has been revamped. Check it out for news on Andalucia, Gibraltar, Sports, and various other news.

The Guardian, Spain and The Telegraph, Spain

Those don’t need much explaining.

Online Newspaper, Spain

Indeed, as the slogan states ‘Thousands of world newspapers at your fingertips’

And finally (until I find some more, or you’d like to add any below)

Euro Weekly News

This is Spain’s largest free local newspaper in English, and has loads of categories including Sport, lifestyle, finance, property, plus more.

That’s all for now, happy reading!