Ilivetolearn's Blog

June 22, 2006

me gusta cocinar

Filed under: food/groceries,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 7:04 pm

Since the ¿Quien Quiere Ser Millonario? season ended (and I fervently hope it returns in September) the only TV–viewing here is the World Cup and the occasional cooking show. Culinary TV shows and magazines are great for me because I already know the content, so I can concentrate on learning the language. Thanks to reading recipes, weekly trips to the farmer’s market, and of course multitudinous outings to restaurants, my vocabulary of fruits, vegetables, meats, and cooking techniques is highly developed. I may not be able to ask, “When is the last train to Aravaca?” but I can ask, “Are those turnips or rutabagas?” or “Are the sardines fried or marinated in vinegar?”

If I really pay attention when reading the magazines, I also learn verb tenses and moods. The body of the articles is all in the infinitive, but the sidebars and photo captions are in the imperative. Apparently this has to do with one being instructions and the other being advice or suggestion. Even subjunctives sneak in now and then, as in “If you wish you may substitute onions for shallots.” And the writing is nice and terse. In contrast to newspaper style, which takes about 50% more words in Spanish than in English, the cooking articles eliminate unnecessary words and combine others into new terms—like “salpimentar,” which means “to season to taste with salt and pepper.” We need a word like that in our language. They even suggest making up a combination of freshly ground rock salt and black peppercorns and keeping it near the stove for liberal use every day.

We haven’t done that, but we do have a great collection of different salts. In the US you can find iodized salt, kosher salt, and occasionally sea salt. Here even small grocery stores have entire shelves dedicated to salt and most people buy it by the kilo. You can choose which particular body of water you want your salt to come from and exactly which “gruesa” (thickness) the crystals should be, up to about pea-sized. I’m about to dedicate one of our three pepper grinders to salt.

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