I have vivid recollections of escaping the schoolyard with my fellow auxiliar during the breakfast breaks at the school where we were teaching. Those precious 30 minutes were never wasted. We used this time to properly prepare ourselves for the rest of the day (read: CAFFEINE) and share the ridiculous stories we had from teaching our first period class. Believe me, there were always plenty.
We would jam ourselves into a tiny cafe full of older women and men and usually a few construction workers. We were always the only non-natives, and even though we were “regulars”, the patrons always stared at us as if we had three eyeballs or a rare deformity. Once we found a spot, the same waitress would come over and take our order. For 10 months, our order never changed, but for 10 months we replayed the exact same scene, over and over, like clockwork. My friend and I would laugh to ourselves and wonder why she didn’t just bring us our usual order (like she did to the regular Spanish customers), but we always played along and began to count on this exchange as a constant in our foreign lives. A rarity, to say the least.
“Que te pongo?” (Sort of like saying What do you want? only always sounding more like a passive statement rather than a question).
“Dos cafes con leche y dos pitufos con tomate y aceite.” (Two coffees and two tomato and olive oil sandwiches).
Oh yes, two pieces of a toasted baguette, drizzled (sometimes soaked) in olive oil, topped with slices of juicy tomatoes and sprinkled liberally with salt. Occasionally eaten sandwich-style and at times eaten separately to make it last longer.
After realizing I hadn’t had olive oil and salt for breakfast in over six months, I decided to recreate a favorite staple from my Mediterranean diet at home this weekend. Of course, it wasn’t quite the same, but it definitely brought me back…if only for a little while.