May 18, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Madrid, Traditions

It’s been another week of getting settled here in Madrid. The week began with me finally getting started teaching English. It’s definitely not my calling, I’ll just say that much. It’s a good thing for me to do right now, but not at all an easy change after working in the corporate world. We’ll see how it goes…

Thursday was another bank holiday here as it was “El dia de San Isidro.” San Isidro is one of the patron saints of Madrid (I won’t go into detail on what that means!) and as a result everyone gets a day off to celebrate the fiestas. Jacob’s aunt Ana Maria, the Spain history buff, went with us to the fiesta in Madrid. It was there that all of the little children (and many adults too) dressed in the traditional dress for San Isidro (chulapas/chulapos). For the girls, that entails a carnation (I am still trying to cope with the fact that it is such a popular flower here) in the hair, a floral shall, and a long dress. The boys also have an adorable little outfit as well. Another tradition that you will find at the fiestas is the food (they have a specific food for everything here – cities, holidays, you name it). During San Isidro the traditional treats are the rosquillas. Rosquillas look similar to donuts, except minus all the grease and thick frosting. Beyond just the traditional food for the holiday, the fiesta was filled with many other Spanish favorites – chorizo, tortilla and lots of churros and chocolate (don’t even get me started on that one!).

Another quest during my week was my never ending hunt for ingredients. The basic rule here (developed by me) is that if it isn’t an ingredient in Spanish cuisine then you pretty much won’t find it. As a result, I have spent countless hours roaming the aisles of various stores throughout Madrid usually to no avail. My only option in the end is to just get creative, which much to my surprise has always worked. On Friday I made my mom’s famous Chinese chicken salad and it turned out perfectly!!

Typically I don’t cook much, so when I do, it’s probably for a reason. Friday’s occasion was that our friends Jose and Carolina came over for dinner. Aperitivos included standard Spanish tapas – manchego cheese, jamon, olives, mejillones (muscles), bread, and lots of wine! For dinner I served the salad as well as rice with my Dad’s recipe for teriyaki sauce (I do what I can to make it feel like home here!). And then, best of all, for dessert Carolina brought homemade flan!!! It was soooo good!

We ended the week by spending Saturday at El Parque del Oeste (The Park of the West) in Madrid – a place I had not previously visited. We were able to take the teleferico over the park and see beautiful views of Casa de Campo as well as the western side of Madrid which included the Royal Palace and Almudena (the main cathedral in Madrid). The park also has an amazing rose garden, which I spent probably a good hour roaming through inspecting each of the roses. I posted a small album of the day’s pics in the “My Album” section of my site.

I hear it’s been pretty hot at home, so I am hoping some of the sunshine and heat will come our way – it’s been overcast and rainy here for a couple of weeks now (apparently the joke’s on me as it has never been cloudy or rainy here during my eight previous visits). I hope all is well back in the States! I miss everyone!

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