Forced on a Diet. Help.

So here you go. A close-up photo of a fish bowl at the local trendy, organic shop here in Spain. Close-up and cropped-in mainly to make the puny portion of the food look larger. Why? Because Spaniards DON’T EAT. 

Of course, these people consume something two-three times a day. But, what I mean is Spaniards here eat like they’re on Weight Watchers. The locals get full off of an equivalent to half of a Subway foot long. The paella plates are light. The calamari servings are struggling. The coffee cups are binkie-sized. I learned that the term “tapas” actually mean boujee, diet-sized appetizers, and I am not here for it. The serving sizes of the meals here in Spain was such a shocker to many of my program peers that we submitted a complaint upon looking at what was served for our first cafeteria breakfast at ESADE. The cafeteria laid out thin slices of pork and turkey, tofu-looking goat cheese(?), mini loaves of bread, and juice and coffee. Since our complaint about breakfast, we’ve been accommodated accordingly, aka we’ve been given double the breakfast, with croissants and fruits added on top of what we already had – a proper meal finally. 

What’s even worse is the portion to price ratio. Not only have I been eating like I wear size 28 denim, but I’ve been dropping top dollar for it, and I am livid. I don’t like pulling out a Visa for a 16-28 euro plate of lean paella. So, not only does the dieting suck, but the price tag on it is worse. 

What baffles me is that Spaniards act like this is acceptable. Yeah, I get it. Spaniards, or at least the locals I’ve seen around, are generally more slender or fit – perfect for their Zara skin-tight jeans. 

However, I didn’t write all of this just to complain. That’d be horrible PR for this Georgetown program and blog site! All this fuss about expensive, small-portioned Spanish meals made me realize how much of my American identity shines through. In my case, you really are what you eat (or at least prior to studying abroad). 

I am the large Dunkin’ Donut iced coffee needed for early mornings. I am the greasy, triple-stacked fast food burger always with a side of fries, nuggets, and sweet and sour sauces. I am the dreams of the now-mythologized supersized food items from the past generation. I like my food vente, fried, bottomless, buffeted, all with a side of guac. I am American. 

Being here in Spain, where the food culture is healthier, pricier, fancier, and thinner, I realized my nostalgic fried chicken cravings were the Americana speaking to me loud and clear. I figured that being American comes with having a bigger appetite with a steal of a price, and it better be thick in calories. My tastes and appetite have ultimately become a matter of pride for my American identity. Who would’ve thought. So, I guess being forced on what I consider a diet here in Barcelona really did something good for me, other than potentially slimming down? You really do realize what you have once it’s out of reach. 

A big “I miss you” to  Zaxby’s hot honey mustard wings and vente frappaccinos, 

Justin “I’m currently hungry” Pak


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