martes, 21 de noviembre de 2017

A "Long Weekend" is a "Bridge" in Spain by Lola Ortega Muñoz

In the British Commonwealth countries, and in Ireland, a "long weekend" is a weekend that is at least three days long, due to a public holiday falling on either the Friday or Monday. Or a four-day weekend, in which two days adjoining the weekend are holidays. Examples:  Easter Monday / Good Friday and Christmas Day / Boxing Day.  The term is often known as a "Bank Holiday" weekend, since bank holidays always fall on a Monday.

In the United States, on the fourth Thursday of November  the traditional "Thanksgiving Day" is celebrated, and the adjacent Friday is made into a non-working day at some businesses. This Friday is considered an unofficial holiday known as "Black Friday", which starts the shopping season. Many shops open their doors very early and offer discounted products at factory cost or even at lower prices to attract the public.

A "Bridge" is an expression used in Western countries to mean taking additional holiday days, it is formed by joining one holiday with another one, or a weekend. In some places the expression "Sandwich" is used to refer to a working day that falls between two holidays, and workers may take it off on account on vacation days.

In Spain, the celebration of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 (on Wednesday 6 December) and the Day of the Immaculate Conception (on Friday 8 December) form a block of five days, one of the most important "bridges" in the calendar that opens the doors of Christmas time.

In French culture there is the equivalent: "Faire le Pont", as well as between Italians and Portuguese with "Ponte". In Germany and Switzerland the bridge is called a "Brückentag", "Fenstertag" in Austria and "Brugdag" in the Netherlands.


In Spain, a worker has 15 holidays a year: 12 days of national holiday, 1 regional day and 2 local days. Like Spain, all countries have a number of holidays -in general, between 10 and 15 days- distributed throughout the year. The majority of EU states maintain this figure, although economic problems have meant the reduction of some holidays.

In spring we have "Semana Santa" or Easter, a religious holiday for Christians. Holidays are Holy Thursday and Good Friday. In general these dates are a small vacation to rest or travel. On 1 May, as in many other countries, the "International Labour Day" is celebrated.

On 15 August is the "Day of the Assumption of the Virgin". In Málaga, it is the central day of the "Fair" that takes place in that week. In Andalucía we celebrate, on 28 February, our Statute of Autonomy.

On 12 October, the holiday is civil and religious. The "Day of Hispanidad", both in Spain and in Latin America we remember the discovery of America. In addition, it is the onomastic of the "Virgen del Pilar", patron saint of Spain.

On 1 November  is "All Saints Day". It is typical to visit the cemetery and lay flowers on the graves.

On 25 December, "Christmas Day" is a holiday, but it is not "Christmas Eve: Nochebuena". On  1 January  or "New Year" starts on "New Year's Eve: Nochevieja".

On 6 January, Epiphany or "Day of the Magi: Día de los Reyes Magos", is very famous among Spanish children because they traditionally receive their gifts.

viernes, 3 de noviembre de 2017

Gerald Brenan, hispanista angloandaluz según Juan Antonio Díaz López

Juan Antonio Díaz López es profesor de la Universidad de Granada y artista plástico. Ha trabajado en diferentes universidades europeas y en Estados Unidos. Es experto en hispanismo británico y especialmente en la figura del escritor Gerald Brenan. 

Imagen: Díaz López, J.A. (1987). Gerald Brenan. Hispanista angloandaluz. Granada: Editorial B.L.N. (Cuadernos Totales).

En esta publicación, Díaz López nos introduce en la vida de  Brenan con una nota bio-bibliográfica  y en sus obras sobre España (The Spanish labyrinthThe face of Spain, South from Granada, The Literature of the Spanish People y St John of the Cross), su autobiografía en España (Personal Record) y su libro de pensamientos (Thoughts in a Dry Season). Una magnífica invitación para conocer mejor la vida y obra de Gerald Brenan.


Díaz López, J.A. (1987). Gerald Brenan. Hispanista angloandaluz. Granada: Editorial B.L.N. (Cuadernos Totales).

miércoles, 1 de noviembre de 2017


On November 1st, All Saints Day (a public holiday) and 2nd, All Souls Day in Spain, we celebrate the Christian tradition of honouring and remembering those ones who have died. Many Spaniards go to the cemeteries, they clean and lay fresh flowers on the family´s graves. In the cities these traditions have almost disappeared, but in the little villages, they are still alive.
The tradition goes back to early Christianity, when the fathers of the church tried to introduce these popular festivities into the liturgy. The feast of All Saints Day has its roots in autumnal pagan festivals that announce the imminent approach of winter. During the autumn, the field after the joy of the grape harvest is waiting for the sowing. The earth, feminine symbol, appears arid at this time of year, but after receiving the seed, masculine symbol, this earth becomes hope. These celebrations represent a reunion between the world of the dead (arid land) and the world of the living (life).

Formerly, after dinner, "the chestnut" was celebrated, a family meal dedicated to the dead and that was a reminder of funeral meals. Normal dinner was cooked and, then, they ate  chestnuts, they were roasted over a fire, and they drank wine that had to be sweet or white. The chestnuts were placed on the table and you could serve yourself.


1. What happens in the autumn?
2. What does the text tell about?
3. What do we celebrate in these festivities?
4. What is the masculine symbol and the feminine symbol?
5. What do these parts represent?
6. Formerly, what was eaten after dinner?
7. Explain what you know about chestnut.
8.  What was "the chestnut"?
9. Have you ever heard about this?
10. Complete with synonyms:

árida: __________________ próxima:____________________
inminente: _______________ época:_____________________

martes, 17 de octubre de 2017

Gazpacho was one of Gerald Brenan's favourite dishes

Brenan tells us about culinary customs in his book, South from Granada (1974). Our diet is based on three main ingredients: wheat, olive and vine, as well as legumes, vegetables, fruits, fish, meats, cheeses, nuts, etc.

One of Brenan's masters, Richard Ford, thought Spanish cuisine was very primitive and garlic-based, popular with peasants. Garlic was considered medicinal since antiquity, but it was not suitable for delicate stomachs and its smell was very strong. So Ford concludes that it is the dose that makes the medicine or the poison, and he was captivated by some dishes of local gastronomy as "gazpacho andaluz."

The origin of  "gazpacho" is very old, its antecedent may be Roman, the salmorium was a cold cream, it was obtained by crushing salt with bread, garlic and oil. They sometimes added almonds or other nuts. The delicious "ajoblanco" from Málaga is among its variants, it is based on almonds and garlic, which you have with "moscatel" grapes (100 g raw and peeled almonds, 2 garlic cloves, 200 g stale white bread, 100 ml  olive oil, 1 litre of cold water, some vinegar and salt, mix all the ingredients, and the cream is served with the grapes). The gazpacho would change its colour with the presence of the tomato, which is brought back by Christopher Columbus from the New World.

Gerald follows the line of his predecessor, and he enjoyed this cold soup until the last days of his life, typical of farmers, in the summer (1 kg of red tomatoes, two cloves of garlic, a green or red pepper, some bread, salt, olive oil, vinegar and fresh water to taste, all mixed and crushed to drink). With the same ingredients, if we increase the amount of bread and olive oil, and we eliminate the water, we obtain a cream of tomato that is called "porra antequerana" in Antequera and "salmorejo" in Córdoba, which is served with boiled egg and ham Iberian. And "gazpachuelo" is a soup with a poached egg floating among small pieces of bread on a mixture of hot water with homemade mayonnaise (vinegar, salt, garlic, egg and olive oil).

The bread preferred by the upper classes was white wheat flour. The poor usually ate whole wheat  bread, corn or black rye bread, which had the advantage of being tenderer. In those times few people ate meat every day, except on holidays. And the fish was cheaper: sardines, anchovies, mackerels, yellow jacks, octopus, cuttlefish, etc.

Brenan learned to appreciate our diet, divine treasure, over time. In addition, he enjoyed long walks and he worked in his garden. Brenan died at ninety-two years old.

Paradoxically, the elemental diet of peasants has turned out to be healthier, in addition to physical activity, and has given people who live longer and in better conditions.

In 1944 Dr. Stoll would demonstrate the bactericidal power of garlic thanks to a substance called Aliina. And in 2010 the Mediterranean Diet was declared as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

domingo, 15 de octubre de 2017

El Gazpacho era uno de los platos favoritos de Gerald Brenan

En su libro, Al sur de Granada (1974), Brenan nos habla de las costumbres culinarias. Nuestra dieta está basada en tres ingredientes principales: trigo, oliva y vid, junto a  las legumbres, verduras, hortalizas, frutas, pescado, carnes, quesos, frutos secos, etc.

Uno de los maestros de Brenan, Richard Ford,  pensaba que la cocina española era muy tosca y a base de ajo, muy popular entre los campesinos. El ajo era considerado medicinal desde la  antigüedad, pero no era apto para estómagos delicados y su olor era muy fuerte. De manera que Ford concluye que es la dosis la que hace la medicina o el veneno, y  se dejó cautivar por algunos platos de la gastronomía local como “el gazpacho andaluz”.

El origen del gazpacho es muy viejo, su antecedente puede ser romano, el salmorium era una crema fría que se obtenía al machacar sal con pan, ajos y aceite. A veces añadían almendras u otros frutos secos. Entre sus variantes está el delicioso ajoblanco de Málaga, a base de almendras y ajo, que se toma con uvas moscatel (100 gr de almendras crudas y peladas, 2 dientes de ajos, 200 gr de pan blanco duro, 100 ml de aceite de oliva virgen extra, 1litro de agua fría, vinagre y sal, se baten todos los ingredientes, y se sirve la crema con las uvas). El gazpacho cambiaría de color con la presencia del tomate, que es traído del Nuevo Mundo por Cristóbal Colón.

Gerald  sigue la línea de su predecesor, y hasta los últimos días de su vida disfrutó de esta sopa fría, típica de los hombres del campo, en verano (1 kg de tomates rojos, dos dientes de ajo, un pimiento verde o rojo, un poco de pan, sal, aceite de oliva virgen extra, vinagre y agua fresca al gusto, todo mezclado y triturado para poder beberlo). Con los mismos ingredientes, si aumentamos la cantidad de pan y aceite de oliva, y eliminamos el agua, obtenemos una crema de tomate que se llama “porra antequerana” en Antequera y "salmorejo" en Córdoba,  que se sirve con huevo cocido y jamón ibérico. Y “el gazpachuelo” es una sopa con un huevo escalfado flotando entre pequeños trozos de pan sobre una mezcla de agua caliente con una mayonesa casera (vinagre, sal, ajo, huevo y aceite de oliva batido).

El  pan preferido por las clases altas era el de harina blanca de trigo. Los pobres, normalmente, comían pan moreno de trigo integral, maíz o  pan negro de centeno, que tenía la ventaja de estar más tiempo tierno. En aquellos tiempos pocas personas comían carne a diario, excepto los días de fiesta. Y el pescado era más barato: sardinas, anchoas, caballas, jureles, pulpo, sepia, etc.

Con el paso del tiempo Brenan aprendió a apreciar nuestra dieta, divino tesoro. Además, disfrutaba de largas caminatas y trabajaba en su jardín. Brenan murió con noventa y dos años.

Paradójicamente la dieta elemental que tenían los campesinos ha resultado ser más saludable, junto a la actividad física, y ha dado lugar a personas que viven más años y en mejores condiciones. 

En 1944 el doctor Stoll demostraría el poder bactericida del ajo gracias a una sustancia llamada Aliina. Y en el 2010 la Dieta Mediterránea fue declarada patrimonio de la humanidad por la UNESCO. 


Brenan, G. (1974). Al sur de Granada. (E. Chamorro & J. Villa Trad.). Madrid: Siglo XXI de Editores.
Sanz, E. Al rico y fresco gazpacho. En Muy Interesante :  Consulta 15/10/2017