In my educational life, I have taken a total of 6 years studying Spanish. One would think I’d be pretty close to fluent after all those classes. Despite the fact that I got a 2 (out of 5) on the AP test, I’d like to think that I can carry on a decent conversation from those years of espanol. However, there was a reason I got such a low score on the AP – not just because our teacher didn’t prepare us for the actual test – and it was never more apparent than when we took a trip to Barcelona, Spain during my semester abroad in the Netherlands.
I was looking forward to being back to Spain again, after having gone on a multiple city tour back in high school. My Spanish was obviously much better back then. However, in Barcelona, they speak a different dialect, which is similar to regular Spanish, but different enough that a stupid American like me would not understand it.
One of the main reasons we went to Barcelona was to attend a Death Cab for Cutie concert. We were super excited because here we were, halfway around the world, and we would be jamming to American music stars playing in a foreign city! Singing and speaking in a language we know! So before the concert, we decided to get dinner near the venue. Of course the best way to find a restaurant when travelling is to walk around, look at the menu, see if there are any recognizable items on there that you’re willing to eat, then go for it. We settled on a small restaurant that had stuff like sandwiches and salads and french fries, but all were Spain-isized. Our waiter just happened to be Filipino, so I knew we were in the right place. He called me out, and tried speaking Tagalog to me, but I could only respond in English. My Tagalog is like ::this much:: better than my Spanish. Plus he also spoke a different Filipino dialect so twice the fun. Either way, there was definitely something lost in translation – English, Spanish, Catalan, Cebuano – all these languages together were a recipe for disaster.
The girls all got things that were semi familiar, but I wanted to be adventurous! Take the road less travelled! Get something different! Look, an empanada! I know what those are! Filipinos make these! They’re delicious and have meat and potatoes and cheese in them! I’ve totes had those before and loved them! I’ll get that!
Finally, the food was put in front of me and the use of exclamation points were vanquished. He literally gave me a basket of bread and a plate of about 10 slices of thinly cut cheese.
TO CLARIFY, I ORDERED WHAT I THOUGHT WERE GOING TO BE THESE:
BUT ENDED UP WITH THIS:
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was confused, bewildered, and most importantly, still hungry for empanadas. But because my friends are awesome, they shared some of their food with me. See: one slice of bacon in middle of cheese plate. Also see: Jennie’s face of ‘you’re an idiot.’ Needless to say, even with the mishap, I still finished the bread and the cheese (because I’m not stupid), and left for the concert fairly full but with a hilarious story to tell. Just goes to show that there will be times in your life when you think you’re getting empanadas, and instead, life hands you a cheese plate. But you gotta eat the food you’re given. And that will make all the difference.