I was recently fortunate enough to get some free time from yelling at kids and doing work to spend some time in the amazing country of Spain. I started my time in Madrid, the capital of the country. Madrid is an incredible city and the amount of shit that I learned while I was here was a great way to kick start the trip!
- Madrid was founded by the Muslims and was named “Magerit”, meaning “place of water”.
- The citadel walls were originally made of flintstone so that when weapons hit the wall it would spark. Thus making it the city ‘build on water with walls of fire’.
Food and Drink
- We can all thank the poor drunks of Spain for the glorious invention of Tapas. It turns out that when faced with the awkward decision of either ‘eating’ or ‘drinking’ with not enough money to do both, the people of Spain chose to drink. This of course was not great for productivity in the workforce and as such King Alphonse (the 10th I think…) passed a law stating that a small snack should be served with each beverage. This law is still in place in Granada and I spent most of my time there drunk. I was embracing the life of the poor commoner you see and when faced with the option of 3 euro bocadillo or 2.50 euro wine with free tapas, the poor person in me chose the wine!
- The name ‘tapas’ did not arrive on the scene until Alphonse the 13th. Apparently whilst sitting in a windy bar, with dirt blowing all over the place the server at the bar was so stressed about dirt getting in his drink he placed a piece of ham over the king’s drink. When the king asked what this was, the server in a panic responded that it was a ‘tapar’ which translates to ‘a cover’. And now we have tapas everywhere! Hooray!
- During the Spanish Inquisition where they were killing all of the Muslims and Jews, they would carry ham around in their pockets and hang ham in their doorways to show that they were in fact “Christian”.
- The oldest restaurant in the world is in Madrid. It is called the Botin and was actually opened by a French person. Hemmingway apparently ate here. Another restaurant in Madrid’s claim to fame is that “Hemmingway didn’t eat here”. Total get around he was!
- Carlos the Second (who apparently came at the end of the “Carlos Felipe sandwich” via which there was King Carlos, then Felipe, then Felipe, then Felipe, then Carlos 2nd) anyway, he was apparently so deformed from the incestuous nature of the royal family that he had a special member of staff that was assigned to chew his food and put it in his mouth for him… just like a mama bird.
- Speaking of Felipe’s, the Philippines was named after King Felipe the second of Spain. It was previously a Portuguese territory until Felipe the second conquered Portugal.
- Felipe the fourth thought so highly of himself he commissioned a statue of himself on a horse. The catch is that unlike any other statue of a man on a horse at the time he wanted the horse to be only on it’s hind two legs and rearing in the front. There were of course issues with the weight distribution of the horse as it kept snapping off at the legs due to ridiculously unstable weight distribution. They managed to solve this debacle by employing the amazing Galileo… who of course suggested making the hind legs solid and the rest of the statue hollow. Genius. Anyway, after it was finished Felipe was still not happy as the statue looked nothing like him. So they cut the head off and added another one in for good measure.
- The position of the legs on a horse for a statue of a person posthumously indicates how they died. All four legs on the ground means they didn’t die in battle. One leg off the ground means that they were injured in battle and died from later injuries. Two legs off the ground means that they died in battle.
Alrighty then…. a whole bunch of interesting history stuff. I promise that next week when I get to the next instalment I will hit you guys with more of the funny shit I learned in Spain! Til then, adios! 🙂