As I’m getting acclimated to a new city in a foreign country, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of similarities between living in Barcelona and America. I have also noticed, however, many differences between the two places. Below I’ve listed what I think are some of where Barcelona draws its most distance from home:
This one puzzles me but there seems to be a huge market in Spain for well.. markets. These supermarkets, also called “Alimentación” or “Supermercats”, are at least every 2 blocks in this city. It feels like trying to find a Whataburger in Texas, you just keep stumbling upon them.
2. Ham-Flavored Products
Any sort of product that comes flavored in any variety in Spain will be available in a ham-related flavor. Whether it’s Ruffles’ magnum opus Sabor a Jamón or just simply Pringles’ Jamón, every variety in this category is going to be amazing and a safe bet.
2b. Also just Ham
I put this as 2b because I kinda thought it was cheating to include it as an entire new item. But yeah Spaniards love their ham and in every way shape and form. Every variety of it is pretty amazing, too. There’s so much ham in grocery stores here that not only do they have a ham-only aisle, but most stores go even further and only have one non-ham aisle.
3. Kroger Brand Lime Scooters
Another thing there are a ton of in Barcelona are electric scooters but none of them are the rentable ones we’re used to (/sick of) littering Austin’s streets. Instead they’re privately-owned scooters and nearly all of them are ridden by local, works-at-a-tech-startup Spaniards between the ages of 22 and 30.
4. All of Our Bad Fast Food Chains
If the cuisine of Barcelona wasn’t already world class enough to make you stray from familiar American chains, the city almost gives you no choice. The only American chains around seem to be (in descending order of frequency) Burger King, McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell and also a Five Guys for some reason. I’ll be honest, if there was a Chick-fil-A in downtown Barcelona, I would definitely be stopping by for a spicy chicken sandwich from time to time. But when the only American food is a naked chicken Chalupa with extra queso, you’re almost forced to make what is objectively the right call: eating Spanish food.
If this list seems rather asinine, that’s because it is. I’ve noticed in the adjustment period between living in America and Spain that most of what I notice are little differences between the two countries– like how they have Glovo instead of UberEats or how anything “American” flavored means somehow stuffed with cheese. That’s because if you stay open to cultural differences and accept them as they are, then you’ll be acclimated before you know it and the things that will stick out will start to be these little anomalies. That’s because in a city as big as Barcelona, there’s really all you could want. And if there truly is something missing (SEE BELOW), then you just have to roll with it as best as you can.
Bonus: One Thing There’s Apparently No Market for in Barcelona and I’m Sad About It
1. Ranch or I guess American Sauce
One of Europe’s biggest tragedies has proven to be their failure to import America’s greatest creation. For all of the faults that cuisine in America has, ranch is not one of them. It needs to make the flight over the pond.
This post was contributed by Ethan McCarthy, a 2019 Global Ambassador. Ethan is a Radio-Television-Film major interning in Barcelona as part of the International Internship Program.
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