My friends and I could not wait for our first, hands-on, cultural experience. Since my arrival to my beautiful Barcelona, I have wanted to blend in and assimilate with the Catalan citizens. I was sick of individuals pointing and saying, “oh the American.” I was sick of sticking out like a sore thumb on the streets when I journeyed to class and my other daily activities. And I was sick of cooking my easy omelets, turkey sandwiches and salads. So, I decided a cultural experience in the near future was a must. I needed to make drastic action, and I was quick to make up my mind.
Bus2Alps had contacted the CEA students about a paella, sangria and tapa cooking class. We were of course greedy to sign up and pay the 20 euro damage. Mom and dad would understand that I just wanted to learn how to whip up a good Spanish meal, right? I could bring some Barcelona culture back to the states, and I could transform more into a Catalan woman, a person I had so much respect and admiration for.
So at the end of my Wednesday night, when darkness swept over the light sky, several friends and I ventured down the black streets and met the cooking group at a small restaurant tucked in the corners of Barceloneta.
We sat down to a small table where we eyed monster bowels towering with toasted breads and separate plates containing different seafood toppings and sauces. We were to make our own unique, individualized tapa. The spreads were taunting, and the bites were delicious. I explored the different options, and I experimented with all toppings. By the end of the night, I was a master maker of tapas, and my belly was filled with all of the small,delightful appetizer-like meals.
After finishing exploring the tapa world, I progressed to the sangria. I crushed the ice, I mixed the juices, I added the alcohols, and I squeezed the fruits. I then stirred up my tasty fabrication, and sipped at the sweet, refreshing flavor. Our whole table shared pitcher after pitcher, and of course each concoction was slightly different from the last. Some added more fruit, while others drowned the drink with more alcohol. Each had his or her own preference, yet each taste was a pleasurable treat.
After the sangria, it was time to learn how to cook paella. Unfortunately, this portion of the class was a small disappointment for the teacher did not offer much hands on experience. Rather he did a demonstration in front of all of the excited learners, and we watched him mix in the many different ingredients, spices and seafood chunks. When he was finished piling up the paella palace into the massive mixing bowel, we participated in the lesson by mixing everything together. We then scooped the delicate rice and chunky particles onto our plates, and we dove our forks into the utopian paella taste.
It was a delicious, filling meal, and better yet, we could make it on our own time. I was now a more cultured American, and I had just taken a small step in assimilating more into the Barcelona way of life. Now, I would have to find my sexy Spaniard so I could cook him tapas and paella and savior his aftertaste with sweet sangria.