Feliz Año

Posted on January 1st, 2008 by Valerie

Buenos días, Feliz Año, Bon Any, and welcome to the In The Garlic blog.

Apart from washing my face and drinking coffee this morning (oh, and eating a stale madalena), kicking off this blog is my very first action of 2008.

A madalena is a typically Spanish lemon-tanged cup cake or what in my Manchester childhood we called fairy cake. Googling ‘madalena’ brings up several parishes named Madalena in the Portuguese speaking world. And www.madalena.pl (I checked this out because one of my sons is studying Polish in Warsaw) devoted to the Madalena series of loos, basins and bathroom fixtures made by – oddly enough – the Spanish firm Roca, which was founded in 1917 and is now the second biggest manufacturer of bathroom stuff in the world. Just in case you were wondering what Spain has given to the world apart from paella and tapas.

I’ve only just discovered that the official spelling of the cake, as established by Spanish language custodians the Real Academia de la Lengua Española, is magdalena. And their official definition is: (my translation) a small cake, made and presented in a corrugated paper mould, with the same ingredients as sponge in different proportions. This is the Spanish version, of course, of the French madeleine made famous by Proust: “A small cake baked in a shell-shaped mold. Also, a garnish of artichoke bottoms, onions and green beans.” Wow. I had no idea. Not only about the veggie garnish, but also about the shell shape. Most Spanish madalenas I have ever eaten are round or square. Or rectangular, when they are called valencianas.

Anyway, In The Garlic is not a cookbook and it’s not about garlic. It’s about Spain, so this blog might be better entitled the Spain something or other blog. Hey, we could even run a competition to find a truly original and non cliched catchphrase or slogan. We think In The Garlic is pretty good, though, and it’s certainly catching on amongst readers.

In The Garlic is our literal translation of the Spanish expression ‘en el ajo’. Estar en el ajo – to be in the garlic – means to be clued up, to be in the know. So when my friend and colleague Theresa O’Shea and I were planning a book that would share our personal experience of life in Spain with those hundreds of thousands of expats living in Spain or planning to or in the process of relocating, that’s the title that sprang to mind: In The Garlic. And because the information in the book is presented in a fun way, with lots of personal anecdotes, quirkiness, jokes and humour, we subtitled it: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain.

We made a mistake with the book cover though. We reckoned that prospective readers would be hooked by the title ‘In The Garlic’ and say: “huh? What the hell is that about?” And pick it up to browse. The cover features a cute garlic man with a speech bubble, and inside the bubble is the definition of In The Garlic. Go and have a look at www.inthegarlic.com We now realise, however, that you can’t read the words in the speech bubble when the cover is reduced and uploaded to online bookstores and other websites, or reproduced postage stamp size in newspapers and magazines.

Anyway, from here we’ll be sharing more informative, fun stuff about Spain, news about the book and our promotional activities, and other writings.

Who am I? I’m sure there’s a place to put our profile, but I haven’t got my head around it yet. To use the words of Mark Joyner of www.simpleology.com, I’m an official blogging moron. Anyway, I’m Valerie Collins, a writer living in Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya in north-eastern Spain. Theresa lives in a small village near Málaga, in Andalucía in southern Spain. She’s away at the moment and will be on board soon. She’s also an official blogging moron.

I’m evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they’re letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it’s still free.


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