Recently I've have had various adventures and seen various things that do not form an overarching theme so forgive me for the staccato nature of this post.
This morning Melanie and I made our own guacamole for guacamole and cheese subs. It was amazing. I found an ingredient list on the Food Network website. Looking at the list together started the conversation of measuring in American kitchens. I read my friend Allison's blog where she writes about her time studying abroad in France, so I was in the know that the French don't really do the whole teaspoon/tablespoon/cup thing but more of a "coffee spoon" thing. Melanie had heard that Americans do kitchen measuring "differently" and she said "isn't a teaspoon about the size of a mug?" I immediately imagined the Hey Arnold episode where they go for a world's record by baking the world's biggest calzone but it ends in a massive explosion when Sid confused tsp for ten square pounds so I had to wait to stop laughing to show her how big a teaspoon is. (I tried finding the clip on youtube but it doesn't exist).
While on the Food Network website I explained the whole concept of having a cooking network and using their recipes, which doesn't seem to be a thing here. I went into a little bit explaining how some of these chefs are actually pretty famous, I talked a little about Emril but in retrospect I should have explained the Rachael Ray phenomenon. I then explained how Alton Brown is the man. She thinks I'm a little fixated on him but that's only because she hasn't met my cousin Nat. I decided not to mention other similar single issue focused channels, like the History channel to keep the source of pretty much all my WWII knowledge a mystery.
Once again, the guacamole was amazing and I am currently the happiest of campers.
The other day I went to a friend's thesis defense thing for his doctorate in American Studies. A British member of his professor panel said that America has no culture and that British English is the "preferred" English. I expressed my outrage to Melanie who said that a big difference between my English and the Brit's English is that when he talks his words are distinguishable, ouch. Another member of the professor panel referred to Obama (in English) as "a Superhero and a Supersavior," so the panel had some mixed feelings about the US.
While wearing my Georgetown running shorts and my First Amendment t-shirt, I taught Melanie to throw an American football and a bit about how the game is played. It was an American afternoon. For someone who had only seen a football in movies she was able to throw a decent spiral by the end.
I was at a party and an Irishman and I were chatting with a girl who had a distinct accent in English. I asked if she was from Ireland, he asked if she was from the US, ends up she was from Bolivia. Go figure.
I've started to notice something very odd about Erasmus (the European study abroad program) parties. First off, at any given moment Spanish, English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese is being spoken, depending on the size of the party, but I've been in places where among 20 of us 11 countries were represented and about 9 languages. But secondly, if you were to be struck deaf for a moment you could easily think that you were at a party in the US (well, besides the drinks*). Erasmus parties are very integrated and so there isn't a definitive "look" of the people, some might even call it a "melting pot" or a "salad bowl," some might even call this mix "delicious." Whatever it is, it's very American. Spain is more or less a homogeneous nation and you notice it walking down the street. A fun thing about this experience is I'm getting much better at figuring out accents and nationalities. My American-dar is pretty good now.
I also watched the Barcelona vs Manchester United soccer championship the other day in a packed bar. About three people there were Manchester United fans. And as I am in Spain I did not hear one person say "If you aren't a Manch, you a wank." In the end I went against Pepi's advice and rooted for Barca, betraying my fellow Anglophones. I thought it was cool that the referees got to shake hands with King Juan Carlos of Spain, Prince William of England, Zapatero and Berlusconi^ (it was in Rome). I did also notice that Berlusconi fell asleep while sitting between the King of Spain and a Prince of England. I looked a bit but I can't find an article mentioning that or a youtube clip. But I swear, the dude fell asleep watching the most important soccer match of the year.
And last but not least, I almost was able to use the line "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition". Maria was asking a guest a lot, a lot of questions and we joked about her being a little nosy. I was able to squeeze in a "what's this, the Spanish Inquisition" line, but it just wasn't the same. One day I'll pull that line off, laugh uncontrollably, and then have to explain why its funny to a very bewildered group of people.
I can only dare to dream.
*In Spain calimocho, sangria, red wine (never white for some reason), liqueurs, rum and coke and 40s are at every party. No kegs and no jungle juice. In fact most Europeans I know haven't heard of jungle juice before although they are intrigued by the concept.
^Thanks to Allison for catching the spelling error and my bad joke I made because of it.