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Thursday, 21 July 2011


Just watched Rick Stein's take on Spain and its grub and sure enough he went across Northen Spain taking in Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, Navarra, down to Tudela and then headed straight on to Catalunya without a by-your-leave and therefore not stopping for a glimpse of Aragon. In a way I am glad as there are lots of delights here culinary and otherwise and we don't want him encouraging more Brits to come with all their gushing enthusiasm and badly pronounced Spanish, wandering around looking for somewhere to eat. Last week he said it was still OK for people to have a fag in a restaurant in Spain which is not true and shows how badly researched a lot of these programmes are. The fact is he would be spoilt for choice here with some fine restaurants in and around the mountains. This weekend we are going to Casa Frauca in a tiny village tucked in the Pyrenees. A restaurant that needs no explaining.

I tell pupils not to worry too much about their pronunciation. As long as the other person understands it doesn't really matter. They get so pained with the criticisms of other Spanish people who invariably don't speak another language and of course the teachers who keep telling them to aim for that bloody English accent. It takes a lot to crush a Spaniard but criticise their English and they often become painfully insecure which is the worst thing when you are trying to learn. So I was surprised to see on the above programme a guy who made his own wine chatting away in English and Rick Stein saying it was 'so great to be standing here drinking and eating with an intelligent Spaniard who is fluent in English' and then the Spanish guy referred to the sheep they were going to eat as being the ones in the 'hurdles', the ones they could see grazing in a field close by and Stein corrected him. 'Flocks'. 'You mean 'flocks', 'hurdles' are what they are kept in'. The Spanish guy took this on the chin and went on and emphasised the word 'flock' in a calm, assured manner that was quite becoming not the usual 'this bloody language! Why can't everyone just speak Spanish!' 

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