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2 posts categorized "Food and Drink"


Spring 2018 Mid-Semester Newsletter Liberal Arts Madrid Spain


This Spring 2018 semester our students are taking great advantage of the many cultural and educational opportunities in Madrid and Spain. Our CIEE Student Life Office staff meets regularly with our Student Representative Council, consisting of five elected CIEE students from the current spring group who provide us with feedback on activities, classes, and overall programming. All students are doing well in their courses and have completed their midterm exams. Here are some other highlights from our semester so far:

Visit to a Pig Farm

The role of pork meat in Spanish culture and cuisine is an essential part of the Iberian food system. Staff organized a visit to a pig farm, approximately two hours outside of Madrid, where animals live in natural environs. CIEE hired a tour guide who explained the outdoor rearing methods of the Iberian pig in the so-called “dehesa” eco system, its economic benefit for the region as well as the controversies surrounding the export of Iberian ham to the US. After meeting the pigs up close and in person, the participants went to a small factory, run by two sisters, who make specialty hams and organize tastings. They could accommodate some exquisite local cheeses for our vegetarian participants as well as provide Hallal meat options for our Muslim students (who do not eat pork). Pig farm 2
Pig farm 2
Pig farm 2
Pig farm 2

Overnight Excursion to Extremadura

Each semester the program has a weekend overnight trip to a region of Spain that allows students to explore the cultural diversity and similarities of the country. In mid-April the group visited the region of Extremadura, located in the South West of Spain by the Portuguese border. Several students commented that it felt like a journey into the heart of old Spain, from the country’s finest UNESCO world heritage sites of Roman ruins in Mérida, to mysterious medieval cities of Cáceres and the village of Trujillo. The local tour guides explained a lot of the historical significance of the cities in Spanish and also pointed out the film scenes from recent Hollywood productions and the storylines that were used for Game of Thrones in Cáceres and Gladiator in Mérida. Students also enjoyed some outdoor kayaking to learn more about the natural landscape and wildlife environment. Extremadura 1
Extremadura 1
Extremadura 1 Extremadura LA

Spanish Student Network

CIEE collaborates with many local students who share modern furnished, WiFi enabled apartments with our participants, but also participate with our students in various cultural activities in the city. So far, some of the more popular activities with Liberal students have been visit to a day trip to a village outside of Madrid with a local resident as tour guide to explain the typical traditions of rural life outside the capital, the visit to the Real Madrid Soccer Museum, and a very successful cooking class: Visit to LA to Mejorada Visit to Soccer Museum Cooking class LA
Health, Safety and Security: Self Defense Class and Sexual Assault Allegations

This semester, CIEE staff coordinated two sessions with a self-defense instructor who met with our student in the Retiro park after classes. The idea behind this class is for participants to learn and practice safe ways to get out of potentially violent situations without getting injured. Self defense class
Recently CIEE staff also spoke with our spring students about the NBC Today show interview with US college students who accused a tour guide with Discover Excursions, which is based in Seville, of sexual assault and other disturbing behavior that occurred between 2013 and 2017.  CIEE staff explicitly advised against using this tour operator because of these serious accusations that have been made against them.  Staff also cautioned students when booking travel with any tour operator that promotes party-centric excursions. In our meetings, we reviewed the independent travel notification protocol, recommend that students travel with companions who they trust and apply the bystander intervention tactics that we discussed in our orientation if a participant sees and determine that a friend might need help. The majority of our students travel together in groups when visiting other cities outside of Madrid and have not used travel operators for any excursions to other European cities.

Welcome to Additional CIEE Staff Members

Our team is growing. This spring we welcome two additional CIEE staff members, who are collaborating full time on various tasks and responsibilities that ensure a smooth running of our programs. We are especially pleased because it allows for additional interaction and support with our participants. Francisco Pascual, worked previously with CIEE Sevilla, and moved to Madrid to join our team in mid-March- as our receptionist and support administrator. Fran is now the first face that our students see when the walk into the Global Institute. He helps to advise students with local cultural resources, but also will lend an extra hand with arranging doctor´s appointments, filing insurance claims, organizing mail delivery, etc. Fran also participates in student activities, such as our bike tour of Madrid. Fran
Maria de la Huerga, is originally from Ibiza and a graduate of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Maria spent a year living in California as part of a university exchange program and is thrilled to help organize various activities as program assistant with our Student Life Office. Here is Maria on the kayak activity, seated in front. Maria de la Huerga


Being Vegetarian in Madrid: Is it Possible?

Felisa y Noelia
CIEE Madrid Fall 2010 student Felisa Saldutti with her host Noelia

Being Vegetarian in Madrid: Is it Possible?

By: Felisa Saldutti (Muhlenberg College)

Choosing a study abroad location is an exciting but challenging endeavor. So many different aspects must be addressed and thoughtfully contemplated. In the scheme of things, the food does not seem as important as how close to the hottest tourist sites you might be, the language you will be learning, or the intensity of the night life, but given that your nutrition and health are on the line depending on the foods you eat, the cuisine of the country should be one of the top considerations when choosing one of countless study abroad locations.

If you are vegetarian and looking for a vegetarian-friendly country, Spain offers some challenges, but, with a bit of know-how, can be achievable. Everywhere you go, you are surrounded by cured legs of their famous jamon iberico (with which they are obsessed), fresh meats on display, and tapas that somehow manage to turn a normally vegetarian dish into a carnivorous treat. However, there are some tricks to keeping your vegetarian lifestyle while in this country of meat eaters.

First, you must make your dietary restrictions infinitely clear to all necessary personal. The residents of Spain all have different definitions of vegetarianism, so you must be on the same page with them. This is especially true for your host family! Explain what foods you eat and do not eat as well as if you have any issues with preparation (such as you don’t want to eat anything that has been cooked with meat or in the same pot as some meat product). There are different levels of vegetarianism, so explain to people which level you are at. The levels
are as follows:

Semi-Vegetarian: Abides by a mostly vegetarian diet, but will at times
consume red meat, game, poultry, fish, crustacea, and shellfish, rennet
and/or gelatin.

Pescetarian: Does not eat red meat, game, poultry, but does eat fish,
crustacea, and shellfish. He/She may or may not abstain from by-products
of animal slaughter such as animal-derived rennet and gelatin.

Lacto-ovo vegetarianism: Does not eat animal flesh (red meat, game,
poultry, fish, crustacea, and shellfish, rennet, and gelatin), but uses
products such as eggs, milk, and honey in food preparation.

Lacto vegetarianism: Does not eat animal flesh (red meat, game, poultry,
fish, crustacea, and shellfish, rennet, and gelatin), but uses milk but
not eggs in food preparation.

Ovo vegetarianism: Does not eat animal flesh (red meat, game, poultry,
fish, crustacea, and shellfish, rennet, and gelatin), but uses eggs but
not milk in food preparation.

Veganism: In addition to not eating animal flesh (red meat, game,
poultry, fish, crustacea, and shellfish, rennet, and gelatin), he/she
does not use animal products, including milk, honey, eggs in food

Some students I have met that were vegetarian before coming to Spain switched to being pescetarian to widen their food choices. This is an option, but not the only option. I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian and managed to remain so during my duration in Spain. However, this means that you must be more careful when you venture outside of your host family’s kitchen to the tapa bars and restaurants of Madrid.

As I mentioned, everyone has their own definition of vegetarianism. This, however, really isn’t a shock given how many different types of vegetarians there are. Here in Spain, I have found that most restaurants will label vegetarian options, but, in reality, they are pescetarian options. Tuna is often included in vegetarian salads and sandwiches, so ask before you order! I have found no harm in asking restaurants to make my dish without fish. There is really no harm in asking for clarifications about dish ingredients. Hey, it’s just another opportunity to practice your Spanish! (: The Spanish tortilla (basically an omelet with potatoes and sometimes onions) is the best friend of a lacto-ovo vegetarian. It is an appetizing protein source that can be found just about anywhere in Spain (this dish is in running competition with the jamon iberico in frequency of consumption and availability). I have also eaten grilled vegetables, which are tasty and easy to find in the city. I recommend exploring the city and studying menus until you find something that is appetizing to you.

Remember to keep a balanced diet, finding plenty of sources of protein. I often times run into the local grocery store and picked up a package of nuts to munch on for a quick source of protein. You are in a new country with new experiences and new foods. Although they love their meat here, it is possible to enjoy the city as a vegetarian.