A group of ten Proctor students live and learn in Segovia, Spain during all three academic terms. They learn the Spanish language and culture through immersion in life with a Segovian host family. Academic class curriculum takes full advantage of place-based, experiential learning, both in Segovia province (Castilla y León) and while traveling to at least two distinct regions per term. In this first post of the spring 2022 term, Proctor en Segovia students reflect on one of the quintessential elements of any culture, cuisine and culinary traditions. Read on for a mouth-watering account of what their Segovia host families have been preparing during their first week and a half studying abroad.
Every day, what I look forward to most is coming home and having a sit-down meal with my host mom, Julia. In our house, every meal is formal. Everything I eat has been made from scratch by Julia, and every meal has gotten better each time. Breakfast is normally what I can eat the quickest, as I am always in a rush to get to school. Normally this consists of “tostadas” which for me is just toast with tomato (yes, tomato) jam on top. Lunch is normally the biggest and most extravagant meal of the day. Lunch with Julia usually includes multiple dishes, all homemade, and all delicious. For lunch, we are accompanied by Julia’s daughter, Diana, and her two granddaughters, Alejandra and Valentina. Normally we start with either soup, salad or pasta, and then have some sort of meat, like chicken or pork. Dinner is often leftovers from one of the lunches or is something light like a soup or small dish. Even though we are limited in our options due to both of our dairy allergies, Julia always manages to mix it up and prepare a delicious plate for both lunch and dinner. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my meals so far, and I know that they will only get better from here.
As Proctor en Segovia students have done over the past fifteen years, this group continues the tradition of signing up for metal arts with Jesús as an afternoon activity!
Ana Fernandez is one of the greatest cooks that I have ever witnessed. She is constantly creating some of the best food that I have ever eaten like lentils or fried bread crumbs from Extremadura. Although these foods are incredible the dish that stood out the most to me was tortilla de patata. It is created by frying thin slices of potatoes, onions, and eggs to create a large omelet. The quality and taste of the food in Spain have really stood out to me but this dish stood out the most. The potatoes are cooked to the perfect consistency and are mashed together with eggs, onions, and oil. The ingredients are then thrown into a large pan where they are fried into the perfect omelet like a tortilla. The tortilla has a perfect crust on the inside that opens up to the steamy core of potatoes. The flavor is almost indescribable with a texture that is like nothing else.
Students visit the Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja (Royal Glass Factory), just 10 kilometers away in La Granja.
I have been in Spain for eleven days and it has been an incredible experience thus far. Not only have I learned a lot about Spanish culture and learned even more Spanish in general, I have been immersed into a world of food and family. The first day that I arrived in Spain they prepared me this delectable soup that I believe was made out of chickpeas. Angela, my host mom, told me that it was a traditional Spanish dish. I was very excited to dive in and try something different from meals that I enjoy back in the states. Before coming to Spain my friends and family gave me a piece of advice that I have been following since I arrived in Spain. They told me to try everything. I have tried everything that has been placed in front of me, and I don’t even have the words to describe how much I feel immersed through the meals that my host mom has prepared for me. Not only do I absolutely adore the meals that have been put in front of me, sometimes, when my host mom Angela is cooking, I will go and stand in the kitchen while she is cooking and watch her cook, smell the incredible smells from what she is cooking and see how much love and care she puts into every meal that she cooks. She has never noticed me standing in the doorway of the kitchen watching her cook with my eyes closed, soaking in all the smells through the kitchen. This is something that I also do at home when my mom is cooking in the kitchen. Me and my dog will sit down and watch my mom cook and sometimes fall asleep to her cooking in the kitchen.
I have really started to feel like a part of the family. I have started to create a bond with Francisco, my host father, my host brother Pablo and host sister Victoria. I am still getting used to the time adjustment that comes with my new meal schedule and the fact that the biggest meal that we have is dinner. I am so grateful for this experience and getting to be a part of such a loving and warm, welcoming family. When Angela cooks meals such as traditional Spanish meals such as heavy soups and incredible fish dishes with a vegetable sauce, it really makes me feel as though I am being immersed into the culture with each traditional dish that I enjoy. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, the same feeling I have when I enjoy dinners with my family back in the states. I always have the biggest smile on my face when I sit down to enjoy dinner and conversation with my family and enjoy laughing with them and getting to know them more and more. I have been adoring the food that I have been served in the past eleven days that I have been here, and I look forward to more delectable meals to come while I am living with my host family. It is very different from being in the US because the food culture here is so different from what we consider cultural foods back in the US. I feel like the food that I am eating here in Spain is actually Spanish culture whereas, back in the US we consider a lot of different foods US culture, when it comes from different states or it is imported from another country or city.
My favorite dish that I have had the pleasure of eating thus far in my time in Spain has easily been the paella my host mom made for me. She took the simple ingredients of mussels, clams, shrimp, oyster, parsley and yellow rice and turned it into this incredible paella dish. The dish filled the house with the most incredible smell; I knew as soon as I smelled the dish from the kitchen I was ready to dive in. It was interesting to see the rice was a lot skinnier in terms of its physical appearance than it was in the United States. Instead of being fatter and sometimes sticky depending on what you were eating, it was skinny and small in appearance but, nonetheless, it made for a mouthwatering meal. To me one of the most amazing parts of being here in another country is being immersed in such a different culture and way of life than I am used to in the United States. I have also spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico which also allows me to be immersed into a different culture, but that is different from living in Spain for two months. Not only am I enjoying the most incredible meals and experiences, I am getting used to a different way of life than I am used to. I am adjusting to having lunch between 2:00 and 3:00 pm and that being my biggest meal during the day and to having dinner at around 10:00 pm and having dinner be my lightest meal of the day. I am also enjoying getting to know my host family and host siblings, which makes the transition and feeling of being away from home so much easier for me to adjust to.
Visiting the Royal Palace at La Granja (Real Sitio de San Ildefonso).
Will M. '22
Living in Spain, which is famous for pork, squid, and olive oil, it is very difficult to go wrong with any of those things. The cheapness of everything is spectacular. We are able to have a fulfilling meal of calamari or paella with a cup of coffee for less than six euros. In the US it’s not really possible to get a happy meal for less than six euros. Between classes we go down to have a coffee and only need to bring a couple of coins to pay for it. This is a really good thing that took some getting used to. While eating out is really cheap, I am also really enjoying eating at home, and saving my money for the unknown. I don’t believe Lujan makes a lot of Spanish food. We have had some of the classics like tortilla de patata, but she makes a lot of Uruguayan food. Uruguayan food is definitely Latin American food, but with an Italian twist. Yesterday we had huevos rotos which has been one of my favorites since I’ve been here. She has done homemade gnocchi with veal and pork sauce, fried veal, mackerel, and other delicious dishes that I had no clue what they were but enjoyed regardless. While I’m not always a hundred percent sure what the exact name of the food was, I usually have a pretty good guess. It’s far more simple, making it clear exactly what you are eating, and, more specifically, what animal or vegetable you’re eating. I’ve really enjoyed my time in Spain so far. The food has been fantastic and exciting to try. I can’t wait to see what else Spain brings my way.
Cruz’s food is interesting. I have eaten a lot of garbanzo beans and spinach. The pizza is good. The pizza she made was very different from the pizza I make. The beef stew had beef, of course, and carrots and some type of broth. The food she cooks is very different from what I usually eat when I am at home. They really like to eat a lot of bread. Even though this is a bit off-topic, they eat fast. I usually eat fast, but I feel like when I am in Europe I eat slow. The food they cook is good. I really like it. It is just very different from what I normally eat.
Segovia city gardeners are hard at work as spring settles in.