December 2, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Madrid, Traditions

This year I spent my second Thanksgiving here in Madrid. Last year it was particularly hard being away from home, but we made the best of it and cooked up a proper turkey (and by proper, I mean 22 lbs worth of Thanksgiving love) with all the fixings.

This year, however, would be different because I would have family here to celebrate with me – my mom, an aunt and a cousin. We decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to share the uniquely American holiday with my entire Spanish family. And considering that my family was here, Jacobo and his family thought it would also be a good time to introduce their very own tradition – the “pedida.” What’s the pedida? It’s basically the official asking by the groom’s family for the bride’s hand in marriage. But it’s accompanied by much, much more – all which was a very pleasant surprise for me, and the very reason why I would like to get engaged over and over again.

We arrived at the Jacobo’s family household around 3PM with pumpkin pie and a raw turkey in hand. First line of business was to get that turkey basted in butter and beer and roasting in the oven. When we arrived though, I was quickly pulled into the living room where I found a jungle, yes a JUNGLE, of flower arrangements. Six lush, gigantic, gorgeous flower arrangements, all from a florist in Madrid that I had discovered and given my stamp of approval (no fern, baby’s breath or carnations in site!!!!). I was in heaven – pure bliss. I’ve been surrounded by lots of flowers before, but never all for me, so this was pretty much the best thing ever.

I think I remained in shock for the rest of the day. My aunt was cooking up a storm in the kitchen with her sioux chefs – my cousin and my mom. Dinner came and who would have ever thought that the most delicious Thanksgiving ever would take place in Madrid? Between the turkey, the stuffing, the green beans and Jacobo’s mom’s mashed potatoes, I was in Thanksgiving heaven! The food felt like real soul food as a result of my aunt’s amazing cooking skills, the love put into everything, and probably me missing home.

Following dinner, it was pedida time! It started with Jacobo’s father giving a brief speech and presenting me with the ring (which Jacobo had previously given me). This is when the surprise came in though – Jacobo’s mom then said that since Jacob wanted to follow US tradition by getting me the ring, they wanted to follow Spanish tradition by getting me something as well. And at that point his parents gave me the most gorgeous sparkling diamond earrings!! They are absolutely stunning and I hope to wear them for the wedding (must figure out the dress first!).

After this, my mom gave a short speech and then presented Jacob with a fancy watch (as is Spanish tradition). Then we all drank the evening away, laughing, translating and blending traditions in the best of ways. It was a really special evening – and I still have the sweet scent of the flowers to prove it! It sure will be hard to top a Thanksgiving like this one.

P.S. – Yes, my eyes are closed in the picture above….I figured it could act as a tribute to the fact that I was incapable of keeping my eyes open during any photo taken by my mom’s camera (probably in subconscious rebellion of my family’s paparazzi-like tendencies).

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December 1, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Madrid, Travel, Travels in Spain

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Last week I was lucky enough to have some family come visit me for the Thanksgiving holiday. My mom, aunt and cousin came for a week of seeing Spain, preparing for the wedding, and enjoying some turkey!

On Sunday they were all jet lagged, but determined to stay awake, so Jacob set out to show them Madrid. From Retiro Park, to Puerta del Sol, to Plaza de Santa Ana, Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, Plaza de Espana, Gran Via and more – we saw it all! We even went for a sleepy ride on the Teleferico, which departs near the Parque del Oeste and heads out west of the Casa de Campo.

The next day we journeyed out to the monastery that Jacob and I will be having the wedding reception at – I really wanted my family to see it and to get their stamp of approval. They loved it! I think my cousin Angie has already decided that any future wedding of hers will take place there.

Since we still had the rest of the day free, we decided to head to Segovia. Almost two hours later (much to my surprise and disappointment, considering I was tired of driving) we arrived in Segovia (my eighth time, good lord!). We had an unusually good lunch at the famous Candido restaurant – an assortment of cheese, a chicken salad (not the sick mayo kind!) and some stuffed pimientos de piquillo. Afterward we meandered up the main street through the city, noticing that all the shops were closed for siesta, including my very favorite art shop (FortunaEstefa) that I love to take all of my guests to. We carried on toward the Alcazar in hopes that when we returned that the shops would be open once again. But sure enough, when we returned, my favorite shop was still closed. Sooo, I took matters into my own hands and decided to call the number on the shop door to see when they would open. The fellow who picked up said they wouldn’t be open that day, but I told him who I was (the blond American with the tall Spanish boyfriend who always comes by with American guests) and sure enough he said he would come by and open the shop just for us! They came, we purchased, and we left happy :).

The next couple of days were filled with trying on wedding dresses, tasting the food for the wedding, and even another trip to Patones de Arriba and dinner in El Molar. We were keeping extra busy, and starting to get pretty tired too. We had our eye on the prize though – a Spanish Thanksgiving, just days away.

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