Just in time for the oppressive heat that has quickly descended upon Madrid, I got on a bus with my Spanish mom and headed south; it was high time for a weekend at the beach! We stayed in Torrevieja, which is on the Costa Blanca on the Mediterranean, and I learned a new Spanish word. Chiringuito means “beach bar,” and it’s really of the utmost importance.
Typical chiringuito fare includes fresh sardines, squid in its own ink, fried calamari, and chopitos, which are deep-fried baby octopi. Squeeze some lemon juice on top and use your toothpick to spear a chopito with a lettuce leaf, and you’re ready to go.
Put a plate like this alongside a Pilsen beer (which is the only kind manufactured in Spain, much to my chagrin), and any Spaniard is guaranteed to swoon.
I’ll take this opportunity to explain one of the cores of Spanish culture: the bar. Spanish bars are a lot more accessible than their American counterparts–I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen children drinking a Coca Light alongside their parents at 11 PM–and they’re generally used as a place to chat, catch up on gossip, and have a little snack before meals. Included in the price of most drinks comes a small tapa of some kind. Potato chips and olives are the most typical, and they provide a great salty side to a fizzy drink.
I’m really going to miss the Spanish bars, because they’re always available for a quick pick-me-up, whether you’re more in the mood for a beer or a café con leche. In particular, the chiringuitos are great because they’re right on the sand and can provide a break from the hot Spanish sun.
Mostly what I learned last weekend is that I was born to vacation on the beach. Reading on the sand with a folding chair and a sun umbrella, with the option to hop over to the bar for a snack or a drink, is pretty much paradise. I just got back, and all I can think is: why didn’t I do this sooner?
And how soon can I go back?