Regions of Spain
What draws our family to travel the byways of Spain is to experience and enjoy its amazing complexity: seventeen unique regions with their distinct customs, history and even languages. We enjoy each one for its contribution to this fascinating land. The more time we spend in this amazing country the more we realize that the phrase 'autonomous regions' is a reality, not just an invention of politicians trying to integrate what is essentially a mosaic of highly individualistic people.
Is Spain the region of tiny medieval monasteries tucked in the mountains next to bustling Barcelona? Some of the Catalans insist they are not Spain at all. Is it the Alhambra, the sherry bodegas, flamenco and bullfights of Andalucía – of course it is, but a Celt from Asturias would be quick to point out that they have never had the Moorish influence which is typical of southern Spain. Or is it Castilla-La Mancha, home of massive castles, windmills and Don Quixote? The Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Menorca, or the Canary Islands off Africa have little in common with that image of Spain.
It seems as if when we cross over the Pyrenees of southern Europe we enter not another country, but another world. One of Napoleon's key men was said to have remarked that Europe stops at the Pyrenees. There is an element of truth to that statement, especially when you experience the depth of the North African Islamic culture that for over 700 years was integral to the culture of Andalucía.
We find it fascinating to engage in the various cultures that have left their mark on this ancient land. We hope these personal reflections on the seventeen regions whet your appetite for the many flavors which combine to produce the intriguing country of Spain.
"I grew up in Spain, and I have never saw the kinds of food like they have in Espana, it is one off its kind. Nowhere in the world you will taste the same kind of food. Not even close to it. There is no duplicate."
"My husband and I traveled to Spain (and other places in Europe) on our honeymoon some 30 years ago. I will never forget Spain, nor her people. La Tienda brings some of her culture back, and also brings back happy memories of exploring La Alhambra, Sevilla, and Valencia, as well as the flamenco we watched in Madrid. Thanks!"
Kay Lennington, USA
"When I doscovered La Tienda on line a few years ago and read your stories I knew at once that you must have had a similar experience to mine. I spent my junior year from Mary Baldwin College in Madrid in the late '60's and was taught by some of the most wonderful and even famous catedraticos, who took us into their hearts and homes. We 13 traveled with them all over Spain on study trips and met so many interesting people. I lived with a widow,who became my surrogate mother. She told me "tienes el alma espanol". I fell in love with Spain and its people and still go back to visit Spanish friends almost every year. You are right, it is hard to explain how much an experience like that can impact your life. I taught Spanish for years, love to cook Spanish food, have lifelong friends from Spain, South America and Mexico. I truly envy the way you figured out a way to incorporate your passion into your life."
Ann Gillenwater, Bristol, Tennessee
"Nice to hear from you. It sounds as if you were completely immersed in the culture -- what a privilege! I am going to try once more to describe the experience in my next reflection, part of the feeling is that of truly being included as a fellow human being -- past of the family that includes all -- the idea of "stranger" is quite different than ours. Don" - Don Harris
"I am from Spain and I miss it very much. Muchas gracias for not only bringing the food, but also a little of Spain as well. :)"
Isabel Creach, Prescott, AZ USA
"Thank you for your note. I am glad we are able to bring you some fond remembrances. Have you ever though of visiting Spain, and especially Galicia? I think it would be very rewarding.
Don" - Don Harris
"Just going to your website brings back wonderful memories of my time in Madrid many years ago. I am happy to be able to purchase some gifts and share them with friends & family. Any chance of "Macedonia Soap" that you had ever returning? It is next to impossible to find. Thanks for bringing all these wonderful products to us! I hope to visit your store someday!"
Pat, Medford, NJ
The authentic original Macedonia soap is very hard to find – even the knockoffs are hard to find. But I'll keep my eyes open and maybe we'll be lucky. Thanks for your suggestion, I remember the product well. Don," - Don Harris
"I had the pleasure of living in Madrid in the early 70s on assignment as an officer in the U.S. Army. I lived in an apartment close to the University of Madrid and got to meet the wonderful Spanish people every day. Most of my travels in the country were to Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona and the Basque country. I enjoyed it immensely. I wish I could go back."
Tom Kelman, USA
Thanks for your note. It sounds as if you had a similar experience that I did. I don't know your circumstances, of course. But I think you should consider a visit soon. What fun that would be.
Don" - Don Harris
"I was born and lived in Sevilla till I was fifteen years old. Since then I have lived in Montevideo, Uruguay for 4 years and in the US for 50. When I was introduced to La Tienda I thought I had found heaven. Thanks for all the history of Spain you have introduced to the USA."
Sara Avila, Elizabethtown, KY, USA
Thanks for your note. I enjoy writing about that wonderful culture -- it always brings back more memories. I am glad it refreshes yours, too. Have ever thought of returning? I bet it would be very heartwarming for you. You might like my book The Heart of Spain, too.
Don " - Don Harris
"Spain is truly a magical place. I attended the University of Valladolid in 1995. I had the honor to stay with a local family and really become a part of Spanish culture. I have made life long friends and a gained a love of Spanish foods. I took the time to learn many recipes and brought them home to share with my friends and my family. All these years later, I can continue to share my love of Spain and many Spanish meals are weekly staples in my home. "
Rebecca, Horsham, Pa
"And you know, Rebecca, isn't it amazing how just one year's experience in Spain changed your life? One night's liberty as a sailor strolling the streets of Valencia is all it took for me! What joy that culture has brought to my life. It is hard to explain, isn't it?" - Don Harris
"I am so happy to have found your store. We were stationed in Mallorca, my husband worked on the mountan Puig Major radar site for the Gemini Project. We lived in the village of Inca, my two girls went to school there with a bag of pan con sobrasada, could you please find us some sobrasada? We did not have Bx or Commissary, lived of the economy, and loved it. Made friends for life in the village. We did play softball with the navy when they came into Palma for R&R and we were able to get milk from them. Miss our friends there, my girls spoke the language of the island, a mixture of French and Spanish. Deanna Perera"
Deanna Perera, Boonville, Missouri
"Isn't wonderful how fond memories linger for many years? It sounds as if you had the time of your life when you were living there. We do have some excellent Peregrino Brand sobrasada. It is not possible to import sobrasada from Mallorca, but we have done the next best thing: we got an authentic recipe, provided all Spanish seasonings and had them made under the supervision of a Spaniard. I think you will like it -- it is very popular among our customers." - Don Harris
"Good morning Don, You of course know my story of my days in Spain. I feel so blessed that they included you, Ruth, the boys, Pedro Diaz, etc, etc. I have ordered a sample of your test batch of cooking chorizo. Cathryn does not get into Spain in the same way you and I do since she's not shared our experiences, but at least she's now discussing the possibility of a visit in the future. I retired from the employment office last August and am busily experimenting a re-inventing of myself during this newest phase of my life. God moved mysteriously in my life during our days in Spain and I am trying to seek His will each day still. Love to each of you, Paul"
Paul Morse, High Point, NC
"Hi Paul, Maybe you will be able to return to Spain for a brief time with your wife. You can not rationally explain your time when you felt especially blessed years ago, but maybe together you might capture the ambience of Spain and build on that together. In the meantime now that you are retired, possibly you can build a renewed life together." - Don Harris