28 november 2011

Spanish eating habits

After a week in Madrid, we’ve gained a little more insight into the eating habits of the Spaniards.

Lesson 1: Lunchtime. We were running a workshop with Spanish participants in the subject of value communication. As workshop leaders, we are responsible for telling participants when coffee and lunch breaks will occur. Our suggestion in Spain was to take lunch at 12.30, which we thought was rather late. ‘Not possible’ we were told. ‘Not possible to eat lunch before 1pm. The restaurant might be open but the kitchen certainly won’t be’. Compare this to lunch time in Sweden which is usually 11.30 and can be even as early as 10.30! There are probably a lot of hungry Swedes in Spain.

Lesson 2: Dinner time. If you suffer from late night indigestion, Madrid is probably not the city for  you. Turning up to eat at restaurants at 9pm, which we thought was late, we were the only guests there. The food was rolled out half an hour later and lots of it! We needed to take a couple of tummy-soothing tablets when we returned to the hotel.

Lesson 3: Tapas time. Many people are familiar with tapas. But do you know where the word comes from? We didn’t either until we were told by a Spanish person one lunch time. Firstly, Spaniards usually don’t eat tapas at home unless they are having a party. Tapas are reserved for bars and restaurants. Tapas originated from patrons standing by a bar and having a drink. Because of the heat, the practice was to put a small saucer (tapas) on the top of the glass to act as a lid and keep the flies out of the precious liquid. Then some smart Alec, or maybe an Alfonso, saw a business opportunity and put a small bite to eat on the saucer. And the tapas was born!

Neil and Lynn

2 november 2011

Love thy neighbour

             Students march in the parade to celebrate 'No' day

I find myself working from Cyprus this week. While Cyprus public relations works hard to distance itself from the economic woes of their Greek neighbors, that distance does not over-ride tradition. Especially when a public holiday is involved!

We arrived to Cyprus on October 28th,  just in time for Oxi day, the Greek national holiday otherwise known as ‘No day’.
This holiday commemorates the day on October 28, 1940 when the Greek Prime Minister rejected the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to allow Italian troops to come into Greece at the beginning of WW II. Had the Greeks not said "No!" (Ochi or Oxi in Greek), World War II might well have lasted considerably longer. Facing Turkish aggression, the Cypriots drew inspiration from Greece's refusal to let Italian troops invade. 

As a result, while it’s actually a Greek holiday, Oxi day is also a public holiday in Cyprus - one of 18. Parades and celebrations took place throughout Cyprus, with the main one being along the road outside the Greek embassy in Nicosia.

Love thy neighbor - makes sense...I’d be happy to celebrate with the neighbors on May 17th (Norway), June 5th (Denmark), and December 6th (Finland) for a few more days off!