Tuesday, June 7, 2011

carbohydrates and spanish weekends

There are two reasons I'm updating today:
  1. I will be laptop-less for the weekend, and
  2. I am doing everything in my power to avoid studying for tomorrow's midterm exam.

I assure you, though, that this is mostly due to #2.


I've been in Spain for approximately two full weeks now, and there are a few things I've learned. Of course, there are the obvious cultural differences, language barriers, adjusting to a new school and sleep schedule, and the fact that I can hardly afford anything and yet continue to spend copious amounts of money on things that I don't need in the least.

[My total scarf collection is now up to eight. And by that I mean literally eight. That I have here, with me, right now. Not the twenty-odd scarves that I've left at home.

If you didn't believe me before when I told you that I have a problem, rest assured: I have a problem.]



But above all, I have, as of late, come to notice something in particular. Something both wonderful and disconcerting.

And this is that I have eaten more carbohydrates in the past two weeks than quite possibly my entire spring semester of this year.

Dear lord, you can just see the carbohydrates radiating off of these demonic, deep-fried, doughy concoctions; sugar glistening in the Mediterranean sunlight; warm chocolate sauce tempting you to bring its cup to your lips and drink the sinful liquid in one gulp, before you have time to think about what you're doing to yourself, to realize that nothing short of delicious, shameful regret awaits this terrible decision. Repeat.

Not that I haven't been enjoying it thoroughly, because I have. It's just... so many carbohydrates.

It helps that, oftentimes, the pastries are cheaper than small coffees. One euro as compared to one-fifty! And I need to be fiscally responsible, here!

[So that I can save my money to spend frivolously on nonsenses like scarves.]

Plus, when I'm studying for a midterm in the world's most adorable [and lined with bizarrely erotic cartoons of loleita girls, but as my art professor so eloquently states every class period, "Spain is different!"] cafe, I need to satisfy my stress-induced needs for sugar.


Zach's and my lunch-break today began as it normally does: a visit to Cuenca, where he orders a pastry and I eat my bocadillo [foot-long baguette filled with whatever host mom has decided to surprise me with; today happened to be tuna and sliced tomato (yum)]. Then we go out for our 4-mile or so walk through central Valencia, stopping occasionally to browse some of the numerous shops that invitingly line its narrow streets [and consequently buy another scarf, but I couldn't help it because this one was striped and somewhat warm and it was chillier out than I expected and I was beginning to get cold, so naturally it was necessary].

But today, we stopped at a tiny cafe. Cute, homey, and sparse at the corner of an inconspicuous road, almost unnoticed amongst the sidewalk traffic of lunch-hour. And there, we happily purchased some Valencian orange juice, buñuelos, and churros. The orange juice was my order, while Zach opted for the treacherous fritters and chocolate dipping sauce.

Of which I ate about a quarter. But it was alright; it was just a quarter. Half of a buñuelo [sweet fritters that are quite common in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries], and half of a churro. Not a problem. Walked it all off, for sure.


But when you meet up, 4 hours later, at a cafe to study for exams and one of your friends, Zach, happens to have stopped at the cafe next door to pick up more churros and chocolate, and another friend, Liz, happens to have ordered an enormous pastry from the cafe counter, and you, who happen to have greatly enjoyed both the churros and the pastry and decide to order another one for the table to split, 10 miles of walking isn't quite enough.

20 miles of walking probably isn't enough.

And to go home for a dinner of tortilla de patata [Spanish omelet stuffed with nothing but sliced potatoes] served with sliced bread and cream cheese, you know you may just die of carbohydrate overdose.


But, you know what, I'll go with it.

And deal with the consequences of an expanded stomach and enormous appetite for carbohydrates when I'm back home.

And not think about the issue further until I come to it.

Valencia is full of lush gardens, an incredible way to break up the monotony of city sidewalks and speeding cars. It honestly makes me want to move here someday.

In other news, today we visited the Valencian Fine Arts Museum. The amount it will help me pass tomorrow's contemporary art exam is virtually none, seeing as how we studied Gothic and Renaissance religious art and not the sad excuse for modern art that happens to be cubism contemporary art, but I loved it.

One of my biggest regrets about not attending university in a large city is the lack of available art museums. I would spend hours upon hours in an art museum, if I were given the chance. There's something beautifully calming about it, but at the same time I'm always struck by the brilliance of some artists. That some divinely gifted individual, hundreds of years ago, was able to craft something so amazing, so inspiring, so lovely, with just their two hands?

Leaves me speechless.

Though my favorite artistic movement is the Baroque period, I loved all of what we saw today.

In other, other news, this Thursday evening Liz and I will be hopping on a plane and flying to Porto, Portugal. We will be spending our entire weekend there [we have this Friday off from classes], staying in a hostel in the heart of the city, attending gorgeous wine tours and visiting one of the oldest and grandest bookstores in Europe. I grin like a fool every time I think about it.

[In retrospect, I suppose the title of this post is misleading, since I won't actually be in Spain for the weekend, but it has an artistic, literary flair about it (or so my delusions lead me to believe), and so I'll stick with it.]

I won't have the laptop there, but the DSLR will be, more or less, glued to my hands, so there will be many photos to come. Stay tuned.


And now I'm going to attempt to spend the next two days detoxing sugar and simple carbs out of my body, so I feel less guilty about indulging once I'm there. Odds of success are dwindling into the single-digits every time I think about the above churro.

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