American in Spain

Christmas 2010

December 28, 2010
Santa Scales Wall

We had a nice Christmas celebration. My Spanish family does a big Christmas celebration with aunts and uncles and cousins on odd numbered years, and the big get together on New Years Eve on even numbered years, so this year was a small Christmas celebration with just my wife's parents, sister, and grandfather. As with most holidays, tradition rules, so the meals are pretty similar every year. Jumbo shrimp, stuffed eggs, paté, and gildas are the usual appetizers. We also had a fun time making a racket singing traditional Spanish Christmas carols. Local Fishmonger, Christmas Eve

The local fishmonger was as full as I've ever seen it on Christmas Eve morning. Shellfish is a major holiday staple across Spain. The lobsters, tagged as having come from Canada, were still sluggishly moving about on the ice.

Langostinos, Jumbo Shrimp

Langostinos a la plancha = grilled jumbo shrimp

Stuffed Eggs

Eggs stuffed with crab meat.


Gilda = 1 hot pepper + 1 anchovy + 1 olive. They are named after the 1946 Rita Hayworth film because their shape resembles her hourglass figure. If there was ever a word coined by an inebriated man at a bar, this is it.

Christmas Flan

Mmmm.. Flan!

No more honey-flavored Wild Turkey

After the meal, I helped polish off a bottle of Wild Turkey that my parents gave my grandfather-in-law a few years back. Among the bottles that get taken out every year is a bottle of patxaran from 1993.

Snow on Udalaitz

We had only light flurries of snow on Christmas day, but the mountains around us were covered. This is Udalaitz, the largest mountain overlooking the town of Mondragón.

Nora enjoyed a ride on a carousel set up in town for the holidays. This time she was in a Ferarri. I was there with her and very nearly got dizzy.

We sang traditional Spanish Christmas carols. Since I only ever hear them one night a year, and the lyrics vary from family to family (and thus cannot be found on the internet), I have yet to learn the lyrics, except to the most repetitive songs. The bizarre percussion instrument is called a zambomba, or friction drum, and must be played with a wet hand, which vibrates on a cane shaft and is magnified by a drum head. Nora had a delightful time with all the music.