Funny Spaniardisms – Part 2


So we’re about 10 months into our multi-year adventure and I’ve been keeping a list of “Spaniardisms” that have struck me as funny in the eyes of this North American.  Click here for Part 1.

More Fishwives than Fishmongers

(yes, I had to lookup definitions for both these words)


In the city of Granada and by my completely unscientific calculations, I’d say that 2 out of every 3 people working the fish stands are women – maybe more.  Meat butchers are split by a similar ratio, although in reverse.

All Geared Up

The typical Spaniard dresses quite elegantly for the usual daily activities.  Any day-trip to the grocery store feels like everyone is dressed in their Sunday best.  I knew this coming in.

What I find funny is the level of gear and generally overdressing I see for sporty activities.  Lots of bright, matching spandex on bikers, runners with the energy-bar belts & knee-high compression socks, and well outfitted soccer kits, even for a pick-up game.  I’m definitely “out-technologied” going for a mountain bike trail ride in a simple cotton t-shirt and non-padded shorts.

Big Scarves


I wanted to just leave it at ‘big scarves’ but I don’t feel it properly explains what a lot of usually younger men wear around their necks.  For some reason, ‘big-ass scarves’ seems to fit the bill much better.  If the high temperature during the span that is considered ‘winter’ here doesn’t reach 60 (degrees Fahrenheit), you’ll see plenty of these around town regardless of gender.

The Hair Tussle

There is a warm, playful sign of affection that can be seen between an adult and child (usually a boy).  It involves the rustling and messing up of the hair.  Just in a completely innocent, wholesome kind of way like I feel like I’ve seen done in old TV shows from the 60’s a la Leave it to Beaver or the Andy Griffith Show.  I’ve seen it employed by teachers, neighbors, coaches, and other parents alike.  Kind of funny, especially when the boys here can be very particular about their hair.

Have you no shame?

Sharing plates of food is a very common thing.  But no one eats the last bite on a plate, ever.  Apparently I have no vergüenza (shame) because I usually snatch the last piece right before the waiter busses the plate.

This is what it *always* looks like when the waiter comes to clear the table.
This isn’t staged.  This is what it *always* looks like when the waiter comes to clear the table of shared tapas plates.

Free tapas or tapas free?

Free tapas are the norm here when you order a drink (soda, fizzy water, beer or wine) but for some reason tapas are not served with a mixed drink.  Seems strange especially since your gin and tonic is going to cost double what you’d pay for a glass of wine.


Sunflower seeds are an extremely popular snack.  Anywhere there is a gathering of people outside for a period of time, it isn’t unusual for someone to break out a bag of pipas to distribute amongst their friends.  Before long, the entire patch of ground beneath them will be littered with chipped up sunflower seed shells.

Many Spaniards are more proficient at opening the shells than a nuthatch – two quick-clicks of the shell within their teeth followed by a twist and they have their seed.  Most can do it in one fluid arm motion from bag to mouth to shell discard and back to bag.  I’m still working on it…

They come in all flavors (salted, ham, etc) but our favorite is the poorly named ‘Tijuana’ seeds.

Late enough for Ding-Dong Ditch?

When we have visitors from the U.S., some of the most common questions we get are around our daily schedule.  “Do you really eat late dinners like Spaniards?”  For the most part, we have shifted everything later.  This includes our sleep and eating schedules by up to 2 hours or more.

But one thing I still have not gotten accustomed to is neighbor kids ringing our doorbell at 8pm or later on school nights looking to play with our boys.  We are usually planning dinner around this time and generally winding them down for the night.  This doesn’t seem to be an issue for our neighbor’s kids, however, since they eat at 9:30/10pm.  Eight o’clock apparently is their prime play time.

Una Cerveza, Sin

Non-alcoholic beer (Sin = without) is very common and popular.  Many bars have a tap for it right next to the good stuff.  This would be unheard of in Wisconsin.

Two (2!) taps dedicated to non-alcoholic beer?
Two (2!) taps dedicated to non-alcoholic beer?


Oh no, what if it rains during that school hiking excursion or birthday party?  Southern Spaniards don’t seem to worry about much, but when the topic of rain comes up at an outdoor gathering, they are pretty quick to pull the cancellation trigger.  I guess you have that luxury when there are over 300 days of sunshine each year.

Back where I’m from, you usually suck it up and deal with it because postponing probably just means you’re moving the event to another crummy day weather-wise that could be worse.


In-town Spaniards don’t like the sun and will do everything they can to avoid it.  Walking down a half-shaded street is fun to watch as everyone gathers and crams under every little bit of shade available while they walk.  Beach-going Spaniards, however, are another story and aren’t afraid to bare all while in the sun.

In Granada, they even shade major thoroughfares.

Don’t ask me why so many of these observations revolve around food and drink.  For more non-food related little snippets of our life in Spain, check out our Facebook page.



8 thoughts on “Funny Spaniardisms – Part 2”

  1. Interesting / strange / weird.

    I’d definitely be licking that tapas plate clean after either me or my wife snatched the last piece.

    And Tijuana flavored sunflower seeds? I guess that’s a particularly “seedy” Mexican border town so the name is fitting. 🙂 Or is there a Tijuana of note in Spain, too?

    1. No Tijuana, Spain to my knowledge either. I would call them Southwestern flavor but I suppose ‘Suroeste’ sounds kind of funny and doesn’t mean much to them!

  2. Finally got to see the HGTV show featuring your family in Granada. I have been trying to view it for months but it was not aired in Palm Desert or the San Juan Islands. Karen emailed me yesterday and told me about your blog and I sent the information along to my daughter Kristen.

    The blog is great! It is a great introduction to your beautiful family and your travels. Hope to see you in person during one of your trips to either Southern CA. or San Juan Islands, WA.

    1. Hi Marcia! Thanks for reaching out and your kind comments. Will definitely reach out if we find ourselves in your neck of the woods. Beautiful areas, both. Cheers!

  3. I wonder if waiters satch the plates with one or two bites left so they know what tapas you were given and the next has to be different.? Just a thought. Or maybe what to charger you if they have to charge at all.

Your Thoughts?