Have you visited a Spanish speaking country recently? If so you probably came away from your trip wanting to learn more about Spanish culture. The culture is different but at the same time similar enough to western culture that visitors don’t experience shock. Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Ecuador are all part of a large group of countries that speak Spanish. These countries are different in many aspects. Some of them are influenced by the tropical areas where they reside and others are influenced by the desert heat. Each one is unique, and yet they all share some similarities of the Spanish culture.
Most Spanish speaking countries are influenced in some way by Spain, since many were at some point part of Spain’s empire. Students who want to learn how to speak Spanish and are interested in the history of the Spanish empire can read more about it in history books and online through a Spanish podcast. However, Spain is not the only country that speaks the Spanish language and other Spanish speaking countries have just as rich a history.
One thing many of theses countries have in common is food. Food is a significant part of the Spanish culture, and while dishes and ingredients may differ the act of preparing, serving, and eating food is important to all. Beans, rice, and tortillas are dietary staples in Mexico and many Central American countries. In Spain, and many parts of South America, pork and other meat products are used for dishes such as empanadas and enchiladas. Common spices and flavoring include onion, garlic, oregano, cilantro, and cumin. Whichever country you choose to visit on your quest to learn Spanish and become better acquainted with the culture, you will find a lot of good food.
There are many different aspects of culture which a Spanish language student can study, too many to name in one article. Each country will have its own unique set of arts, music, crafts, sports, and food all brought together under an umbrella of Spanish. When visiting another country the best way to learn about its culture is to step away from the tourist attractions and get to know the people and their real day-to-day lives. A glossy brochure can never give you a true sense of what it’s like to live in a place, but taking the time to talk to locals, eat where they eat, and take part in their activities will teach you more about the Spanish culture than anything else can.