Monthly Archives: May 2020

Cooking in Lockdown: Enchiladas

Last September, I purchased some delicious chiles poblanos to make Chile en Nogada. I had a few leftover that I have been safeguarding ever since waiting for the right recipe. My abuelita had the answer to this: enchiladas!

Photo taken by Mike Licht found on Flickr.com with license CC BY 2.0

La receta

Enchiladas are a very versatile dish in Mexico. You can have so many variations of this dish depending on the filling you have at hand and the sauce or salsa options. This recipe uses chiles poblanos which are a mix between paprikas and chiles. You can also make more “typical” sauces like red or green or, if you don’t like spicy food, you can make a bean sauce to make enfrijoladas. The recipe I am using here is my grandma’s and you might find many varieties of it online and in cookbooks. Because it is an abuelita recipe, the measurements are approximations. Like all good home recipes, my grandma measures her recipe with handfuls and ‘bits of.’ It is an easy recipe so if you put too much of one thing, you can adjust. I will add that on the instructions. This recipe is for 2 people or 8 enchiladas.

Ingredientes

2 chiles poblanos grandes; el tamaño de cada chile es el largo de tu mano; ajusta cantidad si los chiles son pequeños
1 puño (handful) de cacahuates sin sal
1/2 taza de leche
media cebolla
8 tortillas de maíz
1 pechuga de pollo cocida y deshebrado (cooked and shredded)
queso Oaxaca o queso Manchego
crema al gusto
cebolla picada al gusto
sal al gusto

Instrucciones

Personal Photograph

  1. Primero pones a tostar los chiles en un sartén o comal muy caliente sin aceite hasta que queden todos negritos. Asegúrate de tener una ventana abierta ya que el humo puede irritar los ojos un poco.
  2. Al terminar, pon los chiles en un bol grande y cubre con un trapo o una tapa para que los chiles ‘suden’ (sweat) por 10 minutos hasta que se enfríen y los puedas tocar. Puedes meter los chiles en una bolsa de plástico o en una olla pequeña con tapa.
  3. Quítale la cascara (peel) a los chiles. Si los chiles se quemaron bien en todas partes, sera más fácil.
  4. Con un cuchillo (knife) , abre los chilles para desvenar y quitar las semillas (seeds). Esto hará que sean menos picosos (less spicy). Puedes ver los pasos hasta este momento en este video.
  5. Mete lo que queda del chile sin el tallo en la licuadora junto con los cacahuates y la cebolla y agrega la leche poco a poco hasta lograr la consistencia (consistency) deseada. Prueba y si pica mucho, agrega mas cacahuates. Este es buen momento para agregar un poco de sal.
  6. Pon a freír la salsa en una olla pequeña o un sartén con un poco de mantequilla a fuego medio unos minutos para que se caliente la salsa.
  7. Mientras la salsa está en el sartén, calienta las tortillas un poco. Esto hará que se doblen más fácil.
  8. Sumerge las tortillas en la salsa y agrega el pollo. Dobla la tortilla hasta hacer un rollito (roll) con la parte con salsa por dentro y ponlo en un refractario de vidrio (like a pyrex oven dish). Repite este paso con cada tortilla y coloca los tacos pegaditos uno al otro para evitar que pierdan su forma.
  9. Agrega más salsa sobre los taquitos hasta cubrir toda la superficie.
  10. Agrega el queso para derretir.
  11. Mete el recipiente con las enchiladas al horno precalentado a 180°C o 360°F hasta que el queso se haya derretido (melted), 8 minutos aproximadamente.
  12. Sirve las enchiladas y agrega cebolla y crema al gusto.

Tips

  • You can easily make this recipe vegetarian by substituting the chicken with cheese. I am not familiar with vegan cheeses, but if it melts well and it isn’t too salty, it probably works with this recipe.
  • You can also use milk substitutes like almond milk or oat milk or even just some water or caldo (broth).
  • Like I mentioned above, you can make all sorts of salsas for different types of enchiladas.
  • You can substitute the peanuts for one or two leaves of lettuce or lechuga if you have a peanut allergy.
  • The recipe here is my grandma’s recipe and is quite simple. I found this other recipe that is slightly more complex but looks just as delicious as what my abuelita makes…pero no le digan!

Have you ever tried making enchiladas? Which other Mexican dishes do you like?

Rhetorical Figures in Spanish Literature (Part 2)

Image taken from Pixabay

As I promised in my previous post, let’s continue revising some of the most used rhetorical figures in Spanish literature.

Hyperbaton

El hipérbaton Is the changing of position regarding the natural word order in a given language.

 

Del salón en el ángulo oscuro,

de su dueña tal vez olvidada,

silenciosa y cubierta de polvo,

veíase el arpa.

In a dark corner of the room,

by its mistress perhaps forgotten,

covered in dust and silent,

stood the harp.

Fragment of “Del salón en el ángulo oscuro”, by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer.

 

Oxymoron

El oxímoron is a self-contradiction that allows for showing either a paradoxical idea or a rhetorical point.

“Alcanzó a dar gracias a Dios por haber nacido, antes de perder la conciencia en el placer inconcebible de aquel dolor insoportable”.

She managed to thank God for having been born before she lost herself in the inconceivable pleasure of that unbearable pain.

Fragment of “Cien años de soledad”, by Gabriel García Márquez.

 

Anaphora

La anáfora is the repetition of any sequence of words at the beginning of clauses in order to emphasize them.

Temprano levantó la muerte el vuelo,

temprano madrugó la madrugada,

temprano estás rodando por el suelo.

No perdono a la muerte enamorada,

no perdono a la vida desatenta,

no perdono a la tierra ni a la nada.

Too soon death lifted in flight,

too soon the dawn broke,

too soon you’re surrounded with earth.

No forgiveness for lovesick death,

no forgiveness for thankless life,

no forgiveness for earth or nothingness.

Fragment of «Elegía a Ramón Sijé», from El rayo que no cesa, by  Miguel Hernández.

 

Rhetorical question

La pregunta retórica is a kind of discreet statement from the author that is not to be answered, but shows their opinion or point of view.

He olvidado tu rostro, no recuerdo tus manos,

¿cómo besaban tus labios?

I have forgotten your face, I no longer remember your hands;

how did your lips feel on mine?

Fragment of “Un amor”, by Pablo Neruda.

Epithet

El epíteto is the use of descriptive words or even complete phrases that go along or replace names entirely.

“Por ti la verde hierba, el fresco viento,

el blanco lirio y colorada rosa

y dulce primavera deseaba.”

For you the green grass, the fresh wind,

the white lily and red rose

and sweet spring I longed.

Fragment of “El dulce lamentar de dos pastores”, from Égloga I, by Garcilaso de la Vega

 

Now that you have learned how rhetorical figures work in Spanish, you can use them to enrich your own writing or speech and be more persuasive and interesting.

The Almighty Taco

El taco es el plato más famoso de México (The taco is the most famous dish of Mexico). You may be familiar with Taco Tuesday, but in Mexico it’s Taco Every Day! The almighty taco can be eaten at all times of the day. It’s just as good for breakfast as it is a late-night snack. In this post we’ll take a closer look at tacos and learn some useful Spanish for ordering them. But first, let’s answer an important question…

What is a Taco?

A taco can be a lot of things. The options are basically endless when it comes to putting together a taco. Each region and even each city in Mexico has its own local traditions when it comes to making el taco perfecto (the perfect taco).

At its core, though, this is a pretty good description of a taco:

Un taco consiste en una tortilla doblada, generalmente de maíz, que contiene algún alimento encima y algún tipo de salsa (A taco consists of a folded tortilla, usually corn, containing some food on top and some type of salsa).

Todos Los Tacos (All the Tacos)

Mmmm… tacos.

Los tacos también pueden ser con doble tortilla (Tacos can also be made with double tortillas). Actually, this is very common in Mexico. The tortillas typically used for tacos in Mexico are small and soft, so doubling them helps hold the toppings. They’re also more filling that way!

This sometimes comes as a surprise for Americans visiting Mexico for the first time. You see, we’re quite used to eating tacos in the US. It’s just that our tacos aren’t exactly the same as they are south of the border…

 

American vs. Mexican Tacos

The most common type of taco in the US really looks nothing like a traditional Mexican taco. These are known in Spanish as tacos duros de carne molida estilo americano (American style ground beef tacos).

Everything about American-style tacos is different from the original – the tortillas are hard and not soft, for starters. Mexicans make plenty of crunchy things, por ejemplo volcanes y tostadas (for example volcanes and tostadas), but tacos are generally soft.

Tacos dorados (fried tacos) are definitely a thing (and they’re delicious), but they’re more like a spin-off of the original. Tacos blanditos (soft tacos) are definitely the most common type.

A typical taco vendor on the street.

Another famous type are the tacos de canasta (basket tacos), which are also known as tacos sudados (sweaty tacos). I know that name sounds gross, but these are just steamed tacos that are sold out of a basket. They’re very popular among the working class and students as they’re super cheap and filling.

The toppings and garnishes are also different. Mexicans never use carne molida (ground beef), nor do they ever put queso (cheese) on a taco. When you do that, it’s a quesadilla (duh!).

Mexicans very rarely put lechuga (lettuce) or tomate (tomato) on a taco, and you won’t find crema agria (sour cream) as an option.

 

Different Fillings for Tacos

So, what do Mexicans actually put in tacos? Here are some of the most common fillings for Mexican tacos:

  • carne asada = beef
  • bistec = steak
  • al pastor = spit-grilled pork
  • adobada = marinated pork
  • carnitas = braised/simmered pork
  • chorizo = sausage
  • chicarrón = fried pork belly
  • birria = goat/mutton stew
  • cabeza = beef cheek
  • lengua = beef tongue
  • tripita/tripa = tripe
  • pescado = fish
  • camarón = shrimp
  • pulpo = octopus
  • papas = potatoes
  • frijoles = beans

¿Cuál es tu taco favorito? (What is your favorite taco?). A mi parecer, los tacos al pastor son los mejores (In my opinion, tacos al pastor are the best). In fact I’m dreaming about them as I type this. They really are the “King of Tacos.”

Los tacos al pastor son los mejores!

You can learn how to make tacos al pastor and practice your Spanish listening skills by following this YouTube video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_krHjYqhUg8?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

También me encanta comer tacos con mariscos, como tacos de pescado y tacos de camarones (I also love eating tacos with seafood, such as fish tacos and shrimp tacos).

One of my favorites to eat in my home away from home of Puerto Vallarta are tacos de marlin (marlin tacos). Our guide on a street food tour called it “the bacon of the sea” and I’ll never forget that description!

Check out some highlights from that street food tour to get a better idea of what real-deal Mexican tacos look like:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VuP7rDlQOI?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

 

Toppings for Mexican Tacos

As I mentioned, Mexicans aren’t covering their tacos in cheese, lettuce, and sour cream. Go to Taco Bell if that’s what you’re looking for!

The quintessential toppings for Mexican tacos are cebollita y cilantro (diced onion and coriander). When you order tacos in Mexico, they’ll typically ask you “¿Con todo?” (With everything?), which is just asking if you want the onions and coriander or not.

These aren’t the only toppings for tacos, though. Here are some other common ones:

  • rábanos = radishes
  • encurtidos = pickled veggies
  • pepino = cucumber
  • salsa verde = green salsa
  • salsa roja = red salsa
  • salsa picante = hot sauce
  • limón = lime

It’s really up to you how you want to enjoy your taco! Most locals get their tacos “con todo” and then eat the other goodies on the side. I personally love the encurtidos, which are usually carrots and jalapeños. That’s right – me gusta picante! (I like it spicy!).

Plenty of salsas to choose from!

Speaking of spicy, it’s best to get your feet wet with Mexican salsas before diving right in. Sometimes they can be insanely spicy. There have been far too many times where I doused my tacos in something I thought was guacamole only to have it end up being some crazy salsa that’s muy picante. At least the locals usually get a good laugh at the expense of the dumb gringo trying to hang with their usual spice level.

 

Tacos are definitely one of my favorite things. In fact, I usually respond to the question “¿Por qué te mudaste a México?” (Why did you move to Mexico?) simply by saying “Porque me gustan los tacos” (Because I like tacos). I’m not joking when I say “Podría comer tacos todos los días” (I could eat tacos every day). How about you?

Advanced Spanish Listening Practice – Spanish expressions with colours

In this Spanish lesson we are going to practice using Spanish expressions with colours. As usual, first we will review some relevant grammar and vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short listening.

This lesson is part of a Spanish course that practices the grammar and vocabulary first introduced in my Advanced Spanish course posted here on the Transparent Language blog. Let’s test your listening comprehension and see if you can understand a short audio in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Use the following link to watch the corresponding video lesson of the original course:

Advanced Spanish Lesson – Spanish expressions with colours

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

Celia: Hola Peter. Ayer fui al restaurante Salinas. Me puse morada. Los platos son enormes y la comida deliciosa. Te lo recomiendo.
Peter: Gracias Celia, pero no creo que vaya. Estoy sin blanca.
Celia: ¿Sí? Pensaba que tenías un sueldo muy bueno.
Peter: Sí, lo tenía pero me echaron del trabajo hace un mes.
Celia: ¿Qué dices?
Peter: Sí, las estoy pasando negras. Ayer pasé la noche en blanco. Estoy agotado.
Celia: Guau, nunca habría pensado que no tienes dinero. Siempre vas de punta en blanco.
Peter: Es que tengo muchísima ropa que me compré cuando trabajaba.
Celia: ¿Estás buscando trabajo?
Peter: Sí, pero no me sale nada. No hay nada de trabajo. No sé qué voy a hacer.
Celia: Peter, tranquilo. No lo veas todo negro.
Peter: ¡Es que tengo la negra!
Celia: Qué dices. Eres muy afortunado. Tienes una familia que te quiere y tienes salud. Muchas personas se pondrían verdes de envidia si conocieran tu vida. Tienes mucha suerte. Encontrarás trabajo pronto seguro.
Peter: Gracias Celia. Tú siempre ves las cosas de color de rosa.
Celia: Ser optimista es necesario para ser feliz.
Peter: Sí, tienes razón.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

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Advanced Spanish Listening Practice – Pedir and Preguntar

In this Spanish lesson we are going to look at the difference between the Spanish words Pedir and Preguntar. As usual, first we will review some relevant grammar and vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short listening.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This lesson is part of a Spanish course that practices the grammar and vocabulary first introduced in my Advanced Spanish course posted here on the Transparent Language blog. Let’s test your listening comprehension and see if you can understand a short audio in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Use the following link to watch the corresponding video lesson of the original course:

Advanced Spanish Lesson – Pedir and Preguntar

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

Silvia: Patrick, ¿vienes conmigo al centro?
Patrick: ¿Para qué?
Silvia: Mi madre me ha pedido que vaya a recoger unos libros que ha reservado en El Corte Inglés, así que me voy a dar una vuelta a ver si veo algo para mí. ¿Quieres venir?
Patrick: No sé si voy a poder.
Silvia: ¿Por qué no?
Patrick: Mi hermano me ha pedido que le ayude.
Silvia: ¿Que le ayudes a qué?
Patrick: Pues no lo sé, la verdad. No se lo he preguntado.
Silvia: Pues deberías preguntarle para qué necesita tu ayuda ¿no?
Patrick: Me da igual, la verdad. No creo que sea nada complicado. Me ha pedido que esté en su casa a las cinco.
Silvia: Pues igual te da tiempo a venir conmigo al centro y luego ir a su casa ¿no?
Patrick: Mmmm no creo. Pero voy a preguntarle si no le importa que llegue a las cinco y media. Me apetece ir al centro la verdad.
Silvia: Genial. ¿Nos vamos ahora? Así no pierdes tiempo.
Patrick: Sí, espera que le llame y le pregunte y nos vamos.
Silvia: Vale perfecto.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

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Rhetorical Figures in Spanish Literature (Part 1)

Image taken from Pixabay.

Rhetorical figures are intentional deviations from the conventional sequence of words in a literary work, whose purpose is to create a sensorial meaning or rhetorical effect.

Some rhetorical figures can be associated with figurative language, as it usually encompasses a non-literal usage of words, meant to evoke a variety of emotions from readers.

Rhetorical figures appear oftentimes in literature, though they are also very common in everyday conversations.

In that sense, Spanish literature is very rich in figuras retóricas (rhetorical figures) that embellish it, but they could be certainly tricky to identify for inexperienced readers.

Though there are hundreds of rhetorical figures in literature, in this first part of my post, I will explain the most common ones in Spanish: hyperbole, metaphor, simile, paradox, personification, and synesthesia. Then, we will be sharing some examples belonging to famous Spanish-speaking authors.

Hyperbole

La hipérbole is a rhetorical figure used to describe a person, an object or an event by grandifying or exaggerating their characteristics. It helps make any description more vivid.

“Los veinte años que llevó de no dormir se le corrompieron de golpe al tomar el primer sueño del que ya no iba a despertar.”

Twenty years of no sleeping were spoiled all of a sudden after getting the first sleep from which he would no longer wake up.

(Fragment of “Moriencia”, by Augusto Roa Bastos).

 

Metaphor and simile

Comparison is the basis for many rhetorical figures. This is the case of la metáfora (metaphor) and el símil (simile), but they are used differently.

La metáfora is a figurative comparison in which the usage of direct comparison words such as como (like, as) is not present. It is used to compare a real thing with an evoked or imagined one having similar characteristics.

On the other hand, el símil is a direct comparison between one thing and another, typically preceded by como. Let’s see an example of both:

(Simile)

“Unas veces me siento

como un acantilado

y en otras como un cielo

azul pero lejano.”

Sometimes I feel

like a cliff

and sometimes like a sky

blue but distant.

 

(Metaphor)

“A veces uno es

manantial entre rocas

y otras veces un árbol

con las últimas hojas.”

Sometimes one is

spring between rocks

and sometimes a tree

with the last leaves.

 

(Fragments of “Estados de Ánimo”, by Mario Benedetti).

 

Paradox

Una paradoja is a logically self-contradictory statement meant to elicit an emotional response from the reader.

“Yo te amo para comenzar a amarte, para recomenzar el infinito y para no dejar de amarte nunca: por eso no te amo todavía.”

I love you to start loving you, to restart the infinite and to never stop loving you: that is why I don’t love you yet.

(Fragment of “XLIV” from “Antología”, by Pablo Neruda).

 

Personification

La personificación is used to confer a human behavior, quality or characteristic to non-human characters like animals, nature or inanimate objects.

“El lunes te agarró la muerte, Paula. Vino y te señaló, pero se encontró frente a frente con tu madre y tu abuela y por esta vez retrocedió.”

Death grabbed you on Monday, Paula. It came and pointed at you, but it came across your mother and your grandmother and for this time it backed up”.

(Fragment of “Paula”, by Isabel Allende).

 

Synesthesia

La sinestesia is used to describe a physical sensation in terms normally reserved for another kind of sense.

“… y además hay el gusto del pulóver, ese gusto azul de la lana que le debe estar manchando la cara ahora que la humedad del aliento se mezcla cada vez más con la lana”.

Moreover, there is the taste of the sweater, this blue taste of the wool that must be staining his face now that the humidity of his breath is mixing more and more each time with the wool.

(Fragment of “No se culpe a nadie”, by Julio Cortázar)

In Part 2, we will examine many other rhetorical figures and the way they are used in Spanish. Stay tuned!