For those of you wanting to study abroad sometime during your four years in college, this one’s for you. Last semester I was fortunate enough to study in Madrid, Spain, through SMU-in-Madrid. Since returning back to SMU and being reunited with all of my friends, the first question I am obviously asked is, “How was abroad?” This question, although seemingly simple is actually hard to answer. It is difficult to answer because it is nearly impossible to convey with words how much I loved living in Spain for four months. Since to cover all of my experiences would take novels of great length, I will simply highlight the one universal that transcends any and all language barriers: food.
The food in Spain was absolutely incredible. As instructed by our teachers and program administrators, I tried everything that was placed in front of me. Some of these things I will just keep in my memory (like “gulas,” basically fish in the form of spaghetti), while others I will continue to eat (like rabbit). Overall though, I loved the food. One of my favorite foods in Spain was the “jamón,” or in English, ham. But the jamón in Spain is by far superior to any ham we have in America. There are several types, ranging in price and quality, from Jamón Ibérico to Jamón Serrano. But regardless of the type or price, it is all cut fresh to order from the actual leg of the pig. It is paper thin, smooth, salty, and just absolutely amazing. If you see it on any menu, I highly suggest ordering it.
In addition to jamón being an integral part of the culture in Spain, tapas are another cultural aspect of Spain one is bound to encounter when there. Basically tapas are small plates to be shared among two to four people. The Spaniards spend a lot of time outside the home, as socializing over tapas is a tradition that dates back to the 13th century. One of my favorite tapas dishes is called “Patatas Bravas.” This dish is basically a mini pile of fried potatoes sliced into wedges, with a spicy red “salsa” (sauce) and a traditional aioli. It’s absolutely delicious and I recommend trying it. My other favorite tapas dish is “croquetas.” Croquetas are basically a compilation of potatoes, cheese, and usually some sort of meat, fried into cylinder shaped bite of gooey heaven. They are served warm, sometimes with an aioli, or sometimes served simply by themselves; regardless of how they come, they are most certainly worth ordering.
For a traditional Spanish restaurant here in Dallas where you can try all of the foods mentioned above, check out Café Madrid located right on Knox Henderson!
By Maggie Poxon