Chase-ing Spain: Barbecue in the Pueblo


Chase Hollenkamp

Hollenkamp stops for a picture with his friend during costume party celebrating Carnival. Hollenkamp is a sophomore Spanish, Global Studies, and Economics major through USI. He is currently studying abroad in Spain.

Chase Hollenkamp, Staff Writer

¡Hola! For the past couple weeks, I have filled my schedule with a Spanish barbecue in Talamanca de Jarama, a costume party celebrating Carnival and some sightseeing in Madrid. 

On Feb. 20, I met with friends from Madrid. It was a sunny Sunday morning as we set off towards the home of one of my friend’s parents. Her parents live in a small old town called Talamanca de Jarama, home to a Carthusian monastery, some small shops and an old Roman bridge that isn’t entirely Roman and doesn’t really serve as a bridge. The bridge was originally Roman, but it was remodeled in medieval times. The bridge no longer covers a river because the river changed course.

After a short tour of the town, we headed back to the house with desserts from a local pastry shop and started up the grills to begin the barbecue. On the menu for the day were gambones*, morcilla*, chorizo*, panceta* and churrasco*. Chatting and eating the food straight as it came off the grill, we filled up quickly. Finishing up our feast, we had coffee and indulged in some stuffed palmeras* to leave our mouths sugary and our stomachs full. 

The barbecue with chorraso and morcilla. (Photo by Chase Hollenkamp)

Towards the end of our visit, still full, my friend’s parents convinced me to eat even more. They had prepared membrillo, a type of gelatin made from the quince fruit. I ate it with a piece of cheese and then later with some toast. They quickly realized how much I enjoyed it and offered me a whole tray to take home as we left. 

The barbecue was very different from what we have in the United States. Not only in regards to the food, but also the way of eating it and the many hours spent talking and relaxing in the sun. That day was a great cultural and linguistic experience for me as I had to speak Spanish the entire day while experiencing a simple barbecue in a different cultural context.

The next weekend, my friends and I found a costume party celebrating Carnival in Madrid. If you are unfamiliar with the holiday, as I was, it is the same holiday that is celebrated in Brazil but with different customs and traditions.

Typically in Madrid, the festival consists of a parade, a puppet tossing event called Manteo del Pelele, the Burial of the Sardine (exactly what it sounds like) and other activities. The Burial of the Sardine is a curious tradition where everyone dresses in all black, and the women wear veils as if they are actually attending a funeral. They gather to see the sardine be either buried or burned and then disperse. 

In Madrid, there is a never-ending list of things to do and places to see. My sightseeing consisted of churches, new restaurants and even the original telecommunications building of Spain.

Saint Valentine’s Remains. (Photo by Chase Hollenkamp)

The most interesting church that I was able to visit was the Church of San Antón. Apart from the obvious impact this church has on the community by taking care of the homeless and supporting other groups around the world, they also have a little hidden treasure. On display in this church are the remains of one of the most famous saints in the world: Saint Valentine. 

Later in the week, I was also able to visit the Telefónica building. Constructed in 1924, this building housed the first telecommunications company in Spain. Today, the inside holds art and history exhibitions showcasing the evolution of telephones.

The Telefónica building, built in 1924. (Photo by Chase Hollenkamp)

Learning Spanish, I used the Netflix series Cable Girls to practice. This series is based around the job opportunities that the Telefónica gave women of the time.  This added to the impressiveness of the building for me as stepping into the building made me feel as though I was stepping directly into the show. 

During the university’s Spring Break, my mother and her friend visited Madrid for the first time. I took them to do things that I have already experienced as well as things that will be new for all of us. The day after they departed, I caught a flight to Milan, Italy. While there, my cousin and I will visit a friend from home who is studying abroad. I can’t wait to recount these next few very busy weeks to you all in the following article! ¡Hasta luego!

Gambones = jumbo shrimp

Morcilla = blood sausage

Chorizo = typical smoked sausage

Panceta = thick bacon

Churrasco = grilled beef taken from the rib

Palmeras = a pastry in the shape of a palm leaf