Survival Spanish: Get yourself a bocadillo!

Barbara is fed up of eating ham sandwiches every day. Her teacher Xavi suggests some basic vocab to add a little "spice" to breakfast…

  • Un bocadillo de jamón (a ham sandwich)
  • Un bocadillo de queso (a cheese sandwich)
  • Un bocadillo de queso con sobrasada (a cheese sandwich with sobrasada, see below)
  • Un bocadillo de tortilla (French omelette)
  • Un bocadillo de tortilla de patata (Spanish potato omelette)
  • Un bocadillo de chorizo (a cured spicy sausage)
  • Un bocadillo de butifarra blanca (a much milder white sausage meat typical of Catalonia)

Sobrasada (which is delicious, though Barbara doesn't fancy it!), is a soft sausage spread, seasoned with paprika, and is typical of Mallorca.

"¿Qué le pongo?" Xavi asks Barbara, pretending to be the camarero (barman): "What can I get you?"

Xavi then asks if she'd like her sandwich made with "pan con tomate" (bread spread with tomato and olive oil, typical of Catalonia). "¡Claro!" (Of course!) Barbara says: once you've tried your bocadillo with pan con tomate, you'll never eat it any other way!

Survival Spanish: In the classroom

You learnt how to get yourself some breakfast last week, now it's time for class!

Spanish teacher Xavi Mula teaches Barbara Braithwaite five phrases you might find useful in class — or just about anyway else — when you're talking to Spanish people…

The phrases:

  • ¿Qué significa "mesa"? What does "mesa" mean?
  • ¿Cómo se dice "chair"? How do you say "chair"?
  • No lo entiendo I don't understand
  • ¿Puedes hablar más despacio? Can you speak more slowly?
  • ¿Puedes repetir por favor? Can you repeat that, please?

Try repeating them with Barbara — and then test yourself and go back and compare… Don't be embarrassed to make sounds that seem a bit "strange" at first, will you? You'll get used to them!

Survival Spanish: Get breakfast!

We've looked at how to get yourself a coffee in Spanish. But how about you get yourself something more substantial for breakfast before going to class…?

Spanish teacher Xavi Mula teaches Barbara Braithwaite half a dozen phrases we think you might find useful when you come to Barcelona…

The phrases:

  • Tengo hambre I'm hungry
  • ¿Vamos a desayunar? Shall we have breakfast?
  • Un café con leche y un croisán A white coffee and a croissant
  • Un zumo de naranja An orange juice
  • Un bocadillo de jamón A ham sandwich
  • ¿Cuánto es? How much is it?

Now, ready for class…?

Una Estrella, por favor!

Una jarra

Una jarra… ¡Salud! | Photo: Tom Walton

In a previous post, you learnt how to order yourself a coffee in Spanish. Now let's get ourselves a beer or two!

Una Estrella >>
Una Voll Damm >>
Una mediana >>
Un quinto >>

Most Spanish people ask for their beer by name — Estrella and Voll Damm are the two most popular brands, with the latter being stronger (5.4º vs 7.2º). Bottled beer is the norm, with a mediana being 0.33 litre, a quinto 0.20 litre.

Una jarra >>
Una caña >>

If you prefer your beer out of a barrel, you want a jarra if you're thirsty or are in a hurry to party, or a caña if you want a little glass a kid might bring milk out of.

Una clara >>
Una clarita >>

In the summer, a clara is refreshing — usually being half beer, half lemon Fanta or Schweppes. (Marga's clarita there is purely a diminutive form: she'll be disappointed if her glass is smaller than the average clara!)

Un tercio >>
Un botellín >>

We've provided you with what people ask for in Barcelona; elsewhere in Spain, they call a mediana un tercio, a quinto un botellín.

Survival Spanish: Get yourself a coffee!

Gimme a coffee!

And gimme a carajillo, too! Clockwise from left: cortado, café con leche, café solo | Photo: Tom Walton

Survival Spanish has got to start somewhere: and where better than with getting yourself a first coffee of the day…? How do you want it?

Un café solo >>
Un café largo >>
Un cortado >>
Un café con leche >>
Un café americano >>
Un descafeinado >>
Un carajillo >>

Café solo is usually a very small black expreso (ask for a café largo if you want more water, or a café americano if you like it as people drink it in Britain or the US (ie weak, with too much water).

A cortado is a small expreso with a dash of milk; if you prefer it bigger and milkier, ask for a café con leche.

A descafeinado is "decaf", a carajillo is for the adventurous (and not before class!): with a dash, often a very large dash, of brandy (coñac), rum (ron) or Baileys.