This week I had intense cravings for one thing: a taco. A Mexican style, carne asada covered in salsa verde-pico de gallo-queso fresco goodness a top a flat corn tortilla.
In case you didn’t know, the flat corn tortilla is NOT the popular kind among these parts. Instead, when you ask for a Spanish tortilla, or tortilla española, you’re offered a quiche-like dish of potato and eggs. It’s delicious, but it’s not the same as what I grew up with.
Thus, I set out on a quest to find flat, corn tortillas, to have a taste of home. Yet, they were no where to be found. Not at the corner store, not at Carre Four express, and definitely not at any restaurant nearby.
It took me a few days, but the large Carre Four and the Froidz have a Latino foods section. Obviously I loaded up on all the essentials like limes, avocados, salsas, and my tortillas. I even found some dried chiles that I was always hard pressed to find when shopping back in the states. For days when I’m desperate, I’ve located a Mexican restaurant in the north called El capital azteca, which Blake and I plan to try soon.
Food is not the only way my Mexican-American heritage shows. This week my bilingual coordinator corrected me for saying ahorita (right now), because here they say ahora (right now). I also tend to cut the vale short to va. I’ve even been getting a few looks (head cocked to one side) when I say I’m from the states, a look sometimes paired with promptings like, “You speak very good Spanish” or “But where are your parents from?” or “Your face has Latina traces.”
I certainly expected some extent of Mexican-American and Spanish mixing, but wasn’t sure how it would come about. It doesn’t bother me. On the contrary, I laugh because some people are so intent on “figuring me out” and well, I’m figuring out how people are here. And I am very pleased when I find familiar foods or expressions that cross into both cultures, like horchata, panaderías, takis, and poco a poco (little by little).
I’m very aware that my bilingual nature already gives me an unfair advantage, though there are times that I’m frustrated when the Spanish doesn’t flow or I don’t have enough content vocabulary to talk to cell phone service employees or express Blake’s TIE situation (which is, thankfully, partially resolved and should be fully resolved soon).
What is even more frustrating at times is the Galego language used here, a kind of Portuguese language that the locals mix in with Castellano. I’m very glad that the region holds onto their local language and promotes multilingualism, but it’s not a language I can really understand, particularly when spoken quickly and garbled or mumbled. Listening to Galego is like listening to Spanish without the constants to tell you what word is which, when one word starts and when one word ends. It’s a string of vowels swung into high and low intonations. Part of me wants to take Galego classes, but another part of me doesn’t want to give up time that could be spent exploring or socializing with Spaniards. I’m going to see if my brain can pick up the Galego. It should take me around six months and I can study on my own. I’m already picking up a few words just by listening: Ola, falo Galego moi ben.
So, as I see it, I’m adding, not subtracting. I’m adding Galego phrases. I’m adding Castellano vocabulary. I’m adding Spanish tortillas. In fact, this week, I got my hands on a Spanish tortilla recipe that I plan to try out soon. If it goes well, I hope to make it for you some day.
We’ll keep you posted.