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Mediterranean Hospitality

Warmth, friendliness and exquisite cuisine. If this is what comes to mind whenever you think of Mediterranean countries, you are not wrong. Southern folks certainly have their amicable ways going for them, and they also pride themselves on their local produce and delicious homemade meals. Whether you are visiting your relatives or meeting some friends in the warm South, you’ll realize soon enough that Mediterranean hospitality is no joke.Expat Gone Foreign, tXc, culture comics, Mediterranean, hospitality, living abroad comics

I have always wondered what would happen if you were to respond: “Yes, please!”. Would they then shovel a double portion onto your plate? Would they be pleased or taken aback by such a gluttonous response?

In addition, if you happen to be in a small city where everyone knows everyone, neighbors and acquaintances will promptly invite you in for a chat if they see you wandering around. Offering a bite to your visitors is not a choice, it’s a a well-rooted lifestyle. And by bite I mean an enticing feast with enough food to sink Noah’s Ark.

But hey, Mediterraneans certainly enjoy providing their guests with delicious meals as much as I enjoy devouring them. So, who am I to turn down their hearty generosity?



If you liked this strip, check out Home Sweet Yummy Home.

Are you a foodie who holds Mediterranean cuisine in high esteem? Read the article Exotic Kackendorf Food and other Culinary Violations.

Easter in a Catholic Country

Depending on where you are today, you might be collecting hidden chocolate eggs, having a family lunch, lighting a bonfire atop a hill, or going to Church. In Catholic countries, one doesn’t exactly go to church, but rather, the church comes to YOU.

Easter might be the only holiday in Spain that is not about shoveling food down your throat non-stop. The concept is simple: someone in the 15th century decided to take their sculpted Biblical personalities out on the street. That way, the common folks would experience Jesus’ last days on Earth, relive his pain, and repent for being such dreadful sinners. The idea spread like wildfire, and nowadays Easter in some provincial locations of Spain looks like this:

Source: Pixabay – Semana Santa

If I were an unknowing tourist right there, happened to make a turn and bump into these people, I would run away so far that not even Google would be able to find me. But fear not, these people are not here to murder you in your sleep. This somewhat creepy outfit represents the Christian sacrament of penance i.e. reconciliation with God. Pretty much like football teams, each congregation has its own penitential robe, conical hat, flags and symbols. They take the streets carrying their pasos (floats), each more lavishly decorated than the next, depicting scenes of the Easter story.

For a whole week, some Spanish cities and towns look like this. Every major street turns into a heavily incense-scented escape room. For a whole week, there’s a grave, gloomy atmosphere lurking all over the place, and Catholics really feel “it”. Basically everyone is devastated until Jesus comes back from the dead.  Yes, the dead.Expat Gone Foreign, Christianity, Religion, Catholicism, ResurrectionGrowing up in rural Andalusia, Catholicism was ubiquitous. Reciting prayers in kindergarten gave way to Sunday mass and Bible study in school, and that’s where trouble began. The stories just didn’t hold up.

For instance, Noah would have had to build a 10,000 square meter ark – that’s roughly the surface of 30 basketball courts lined up – in order to fit two animals of each kind in his boat. God was a trinity, which meant three persons coexisting in one entity. Nothing weird about that. There was this dude who allegedly feed a multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish. I’m sorry, that’s not a meal. It’s not even tapas. The guy who wrote the Bible had clearly failed physics, biology, math and common sense across the board 1.

Creationists didn’t like questions, so I was told that biblical texts were not meant to be taken literally, but rather understood as the story of a nice guy who went around preaching love and doing good things. That was a relief. Basically, being Christian was about acting nice and loving thy neighbor – unless your neighbors were gay, agnostic, promiscuous, black, Muslim, or belonged to any other deranged minority. Catholicism wasn’t exactly fond of the ladies either. Just because Eve ate the apple, all women were by default the root of all evil and needed to be kept in line 2.

Fortunately, things have come a really long way.

Nowadays, participating in the Easter parades is more about aesthetics and folklore than religion itself, and I do understand the artistic value of sculpted scenes and the street performances 3.

I also understand the human need to belong, to have some sense of community. Religion has fulfilled that role for centuries: it kept people together and gave the common folks some reassurance in times of plagues and famines. It served its purpose at a time when science wasn’t there to explain miracles.

My point being: how is THIS still a thing?

¿Español o castellano?

Dear native Spanish speaker: if I were to ask you what your mother tongue is, would you say it’s español or castellano? Think about it for a sec. Ready? Great. If your answer is castellano, I strongly encourage you to keep reading. Unless you have a time machine and you just warped from the Middle Ages, you speak español, amigo.

If you are not a hispanohablante 4, you might be wondering what the whole fuss is all about. You see, in the Spanish-speaking community, both terms – español and castellano – are used to refer to the beautiful Spanish language. The only problem is that one of them is mistakenly overused. Here’s a visual aid to illustrate where español and castellano are spoken nowadays as official languages:

Expat Gone Foreign, language comics, fun linguistics, español, castellano, nacionalismos, terminología

Let’s get into the time machine, shall we? Dialing back to the 9th century. Destination: Condado de Castilla, northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Bleepity bloopity boop!

Castellano was one of the many Romance descendants of Latin, and it was spoken by the small population who lived in the County of Castile. This county would later on turn into a kingdom – el Reino de Castilla – by taking vast amounts of territory and annexing other kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula. As the Kingdom of Castile expanded, so did the language of its Castilian folks.

Languages evolve throughout the years, and it’s hard to pin down the exact moment in which castellano diverged enough from Latin to be considered a language of its own. What started as the castellano of Castile in the 9th century had turned into the castellano of Spain by the 16th. Erudite King Alfonso X as well as the Golden Age litterateurs hoisted Spanish as the language of the Empire, a language that was gradually called español over castellano. By the 18th century, the first designation had taken over the latter.

So, why does a large number of hispanohablantes refer to their language as castellano? Habit, pride, politics… take your pick. The term is nowadays widely used in bilingual regions of Spain as well as some Spanish speaking-countries in Latin America 2. It has become so commonplace, that even the RAE decided to give up and include it is as a synonym for español 3. The DPD also weighs in.

Whereas the international community refers to the Spanish language as español across the board, native speakers of this language seem to disagree with the terminology. The way I see it, calling it castellano is anachronic and as preposterous as saying that Angela Merkel speaks Althochdeutsch. Still skeptical? Allow me to show you one last piece of evidence to dissuade you from labeling your language as castellano:

Facsimile of Cantar de mio Cid.
Here’s a transcription of the first eight verses:

A uos lama por sennor, e tienes por uuestro vasallo:
Mucho preçia la ondra Çid quel auedes dado.
Pocos dias ha, rey, que vna lid a arrancado,
A aquel rey de Marruecos Yuçeff por nombrado:
Con çinquenta mill arrancolos del campo:
Las ganançias que fizo mucho son sobeianas:
Ricos son venidos todos los sos vassallos:
E enbia uos dozientos cauallos, e besa uos las manos.

Do you speak THAT? I don’t think so. Let’s get into the time capsule and come back to the present, shall we?