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sevilla: almohad baths, rediscovered

España, Andalucía, Sevilla, Bar Giralda, Almohad, baths, baños árabes

I’ll wager that almost everyone who visits Sevilla has walked past the Cervecería Bar Giralda on Mateos Gago. Beginning as a kiosk in 1923 on nearby Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, owners moved to this more permanent spot when architect Vicente Traver renovated a pre-existing structure. Regionalist style was all the rage in 1920s Sevilla, so Traver incorporated what he found into his design then left no written record of his work. Archaeologists would uncover this gem one hundred years later…

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recipe: lentejas

recipe, Spain, lentejas

A big bowl of lentil stew makes any winter day warm & cozy… delicious even while temps in Sevilla reach 23ºC in mid-February! Every Spaniard grows up with their family’s version of this classic dish, & Rafa finally let me have a go at making this crowdpleaser. Lots of spices along with onions, carrots & potatoes give fantastic flavor to a basic kitchen staple: the lentil. One taste & this may become your favorite stew regardless of the season.

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spain: carmona

España, Spain, Andalucía, Carmona, panorama

Most early settlements in the Iberian peninsula began as easily-defended sites using natural features to protect their inhabitants, as well as to scope out surrounding areas for any possible threat. Carmona was no different; however, what makes this town so unique is a history that dates back to the third millennium BCE… making it one of the oldest settlements in Europe. Old Stone Agers, Phoenicians, Tartessians & Carthaginians all called Carmona home long before the Romans arrived.

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spain: nativity scenes

Since early days of Christianity, representations of the birth of Jesus appeared all around the Mediterranean. But on Christmas Eve of 1223 a new trend began which has endured to the present: St. Francis of Assisi placed an empty manger with a donkey & an ox —combining imagery from the Gospel of Luke & the Book of Isaiah— inside a cave in central Italy. After Mass, St. Francis told of the coming of Christ to an awestruck crowd. They could finally see & experience what had only been words before! Soon people began to portray Biblical figures as actors, & a more practical version with figurines carved of wood or sculpted from terracotta developed in time. From these medieval Italian origins, the Nativity scene would become popular centuries later in Spain…

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recipe: sopa de ajo

recipe, sopa de ajo

One of the joys of traditional Spanish cooking is that nothing goes to waste. Soups, in particular, take basic leftovers & spruce them up with fresh ingredients. Gazpacho is the perfect summer example while sopa de ajo (garlic soup) adds warmth to the first cool days of autumn. Tasty & hearty, this filling soup is a perfect way to use extra bread & jamón we often have on hand at home.

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personal: places lived 12

places lived, Spain, Sevilla, 2016 to present

As I wondered if Seattle would be financially feasible in the long run, I met Rafael between work assignments in Spain. We shared similar interests & even the same profession… not to mention Rafa is one of the kindest people I know. Visiting me in Seattle in 2016, Rafa learned that his father wanted to sell the family apartment in Sevilla. Suddenly he was looking for a place to live & so was I. Although I’d never considered living in Sevilla before meeting Rafa, the universe steered me to Andalucía once again.

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personal: places lived 5

places lived, 1998-1999, Spain, España

What had we gotten ourselves into? Jorge accepted a year-long position as Assistant Director for the University of Washington study abroad program in Cádiz, & we were suddenly off to Spain. Just like that. Jorge had at least been to Europe before, but for me this was another moment like Seattle in 1994: moving somewhere without any prior visit. Oh well, live & learn. I needed to get out of an awful job + going to Europe had been a lifelong dream. I crammed in as many language lessons as I could before leaving, & our rental agency even agreed to let us sublease the Seattle apartment. Everything seemed to come together… except we didn’t have a place to live upon arrival. Details, details.

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guidebook research 2020?

atención, coronavirus, Sevilla

Oh, what could have been. After the Rick Steves reunion in January, the book department & I began working on my research schedule for this year. I’d expressed a desire to do more book work in 2020… although not as well paid as guiding tours, I love the flexibility + the opportunity to add my own text (when approved!). Rick has the final say in all his guidebooks, but the collaborative publishing effort every year is great fun. COVID-19 put an end to those plans. However, I’m not one to break tradition, so I thought I’d share what might have been an incredible research year.

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recipe: gazpacho

recipe, gazpacho, Spain

After spending so much time cooking during quarantine, I’ve decided to post more recipes. Usually I’m on the road so I post about those experiences but this year has been, well, different. And every attempt to reproduce Spanish & Portuguese recipes gives me that much more insight into Iberian culture. Note: Every recipe I post works. I often try a few times to get flavors exactly how I like them. So consider these posts as a base to start exploring Iberian cooking… then you do you.

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