A Tale of Two Dinner Tables

Before I get started on the wonderful dinner party I attended, I want to give a quick recap of what’s happened here in the past few days.

On Friday, I was able to meet up in Sevilla with my great friend Melissa, who’s currently studying abroad in Granada. It was so great catching up with her and her friend Sarah. They stayed in a hostel right by the Catedral de Sevilla and I got to see their hostel (which was clean, bright, not in a sketchy area, etc.). While I know that not all hostels are the same, this did give me hope that my (hopefully) future stays in hostels will also be positive experiences.

Melissa, Sarah and I had DELICIOUS tapas, and then strolled around Sevilla for a bit. We got some gelato and then headed to a free flamenco show! Then on Saturday I traveled with CIEE to Cadiz, an historic and beautiful seaside town about 90 minutes away from Sevilla. We toured the town for a bit, then headed to a castle/old fort/lighthouse at the edge of a peninsula and then ended the day at the beach!

Well, “ended the day” isn’t exactly right, because little did I know that when I came back home, the real fun would start. Alvaro, my host-mom’s son, is heading off to Poland on Monday to study abroad for the year. To celebrate/send him off, Antonia hosted a dinner party at our house/apartment for about 13 family members.

To be honest, I was pretty nervous about a Spanish dinner party – what if I didn’t understand what people were saying (or understood less than I normally do?) Would it be awkward being the only non-family member there? The list of my worries went on and on, but as soon as the family members arrived, I felt much more comfortable. We all sat outside on Antonia’s terrace, under the stars on a perfect September night (yes, night, not evening, since we didn’t eat dinner until around 10:30!)

And then I realized why I felt so comfortable – it’s because Antonia’s family is, at its heart, quasi-identical to mine! Take, for example, Antonia’s mom, who was almost identical to my grandmother, whom I lovingly call “Dundee.” Both grandmas have a bit of difficulty walking and hearing, care immensely about their family, clearly are full of love, want their children and grandchildren to keep eating even though you’re definitely still not hungry AND AT RANDOM TIMES ASK WHERE THE CAT IS.

Although I couldn’t catch all of the conversation that Antonia and her family members were having, I did realize that they were talking about Alvaro’s impending departure and how he’s a bit excited and nervous (much like how I felt 16 days ago!) and what papers/documentation he needs, what suitcases he’ll be bringing, etc. It was weird essentially re-living my days before study abroad, but this time all in Spanish!

Another interesting aspect was that people’s weight was brought up multiple times at the dinner table. In fact, Antonia’s sister went and weighed herself during dinner, and when she came back, proudly announced that she was the same weight as yesterday. Gaining weight does not seem to be frowned upon quite like it is in the US, but people here do “value” being skinny. It’s an interesting dynamic, to say the least.

Antonia was acting just like how my mom acts at a dinner party (complete with worrying if everyone is ok, making absolutely delicious food, sitting closest to the kitchen so she could continue running in and out to get things, etc.) The food itself could be a whole other blog post, but it was simply delicious – meats with rich sauces, potatoes with peppers and egg mixed in (which I know might sound weird, but trust me, it’s delicious!), and then to top it all off, dessert was this amazing cookie-cake made by Antonia’s sister. It was a remarkable evening, and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of this amazing family gathering.

TGT: 1) All the above 2) Touring the Catedrál de Sevilla and the Giralda (a beautiful tower where you can see 360-degrees of Sevilla below) 3) Going to mass in Spanish (which, for anyone who’s curious, is only 30 minutes long here and does not include any music, but is held in absolutely beautiful cathedrals!)

Hasta la pasta,
~JK

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