Carolina Silva: “What drives us apart from each other is probably fear”
Carolina is a portuguese from Barreiro, Portugal living in Valencia, Spain. She is passionate about her life and shares with us her cultural experiences of Spain compared to Portugal. She has cooked a Spiritual Cod (Bacalhau Espiritual), a traditional portuguese dish.
1 – How old were you when you moved to Valencia? What was the main reason to move?
I’ve left Portugal at the age of 22 to go to medical school. I started studying in a Hungarian city, Pécs, which is located near the border with Croatia, where I spent 2 years. At the end of 2nd year, I moved to Valencia, Spain, where I live and study at the moment.
2 – What kind of cultural characteristics have you absorbed from the country you live in?
It’s a curious question, because Spain was not exactly the country that attracted me most. Culturally, I think Portugal is a country very similar to Spain, so I do not notice much the difference. Months before I came to live in Valencia, I was living in Hungary, where I felt a great clash of cultures with Portugal. The people are more reserved, the weather is not the most pleasant, so I felt very welcomed and “at home” when I arrived in Spain.
3 – Do you think your origins have influenced people around you?
I think so, and at least I try to show my origins every day, with Portuguese music, Portuguese artists, typical food, I try to bring something from Portugal so they can taste it. My friends think I am very patriotic, and they admire this characteristic enough, because in Spain there are many differences in this feeling.
Regarding the language, I came to Spain to speak “portunhol,” (an unofficial mix of portuguese with spanish) and today, sometimes I speak better Castilian than Portuguese. I confess that it bothers me, mainly when I go back to Portugal and my parents get involved with me. That’s why I try to speak as much Portuguese as I can in my day-to-day life. I am very proud to be Portuguese, and whenever I say my nationality, it is very rare that there is not someone who does not speak Portuguese well, and of course this can make the most of my day.
4 – What are the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country?
Longing, no doubt, and sometimes I can not express myself in the same way I do in Portuguese. Oh, and of course, not being able to see Sport Lisboa and Benfica games at the stadium.
5 – What are the most positive aspects in Spain?
The weather, the looks of language and culture, food, sympathy and also “la fiesta Y la siesta”.
6 – During this time in a foreign country what have you learned about the human being? What sets us apart from each other?
I have learned that we are all very similar regardless of the country where we were born. And that despite what is happening in the world today, there is still more kindness and love than evil. What drives us apart from each other is probably fear.
7 – What is missing in Portugal that Spain has and vice versa?
In Portugal what is lacking is the sea water being warm, like the Mediterranean, and specifically here in Valencia, the late afternoon, which make the most beautiful sky I have ever seen. As here in Spain, I miss Portuguese food, although I enjoy Spanish cuisine a lot, I miss good coffee and good radio stations.
8 – What’s your favourite Spanish dish?
Black rice, Salmorejo and Tomato Coca.
9 – What stereotype doesn’t make sense about Spain and Valencia?
“La siesta”. We think that the Spaniards sleep every day after lunch, and although it is part of their culture, as everything in life, it can not be generalised. When they have to work, they work, they only sleep the siesta when they have the opportunity, and if they have it, they do not waste it.
The stereotype we have that the Spaniards speak very loudly is really true.
10 – What were your biggest fears before you moved to Valencia?
My biggest fear when I left Portugal was to miss important occasions in my family environment, such as birthdays, births, etc., and lose friendships because I was not present. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know that I can not be at a certain dinner, or at a certain party. I’m already used to it and I’m lucky to be surrounded by incredible people and try to reduce the distance even if it’s through Facetime, but it’s always different.
11 – From a legal point of view, was the social framework easy?
Yes, all the bureaucratic issues, such as arranging a home, services such as internet and telephone, creating a bank account, having access to the national health service, were all easy processes to carry out. At least in Spain, being a European citizen is a valued characteristic, and adapting to the country is quite easy.
12 – What is your favourite spot in Valencia?
In the first place, I think Valencia is very pretty, and I have favorite places according to the season and my mood. The center of the city, with the fabulous Market, the Fallas, which are the typical festivals of the city and immaterial Patrimony of humanity, the Turia River which is very beautiful to stroll and do sports, to City of Arts and Sciences, Albufera which is a very beautiful landscape for boat trips, the area of Malvarosa where the beach is and has excellent restaurants.
But in the Valencian community, one of my favorite places is Benicassim. It’s a perfect village with the sea, beach, mountain and music festivals.
13 – What is your favourite restaurant in Valencia?
As a matter of fact, that’s a difficult question because I have many favorite restaurants. San Tomasso is the best Italian I’ve ever been in my life. The food is extraordinary, the place is very cozy and beautiful, and the employees are very friendly, in addition the price is affordable.
There’s also another amazing place that I’m currently in love called La Llarona, it’s an amazing “taqueria”!
14 – What is it for you to be real? / What defines you as a person?
Determination, emotional intelligence, respect, hope, and kindness are key to survival in today’s society.
Spiritual Cod (Bacalhau Espiritual) is a typical portuguese dish. It’s one of the thousand ways that portuguese have to cook Cod. It’s a traditional dish in Portugal, that is not that well known outside of its borders. The ingredients are really easy to find anywhere!
2 bay leaves
3 soaked cod slices
1 onion and
4 cloves garlic
1dl olive oil
300g bread crumbs
2dl of cream
1 bouquet of parsley salt and pepper nutmeg
2 c. breadcrumb soup
2 c. of grated Parmesan cheese soup
1 purple onion
1 sprig of basil
Bring to the fire a bowl of water and laurel. As soon as it boils, add the cod. Cook for five minutes and let cool inside the broth. Mix the bay leaves with the onion and the chopped garlic in the olive oil. Add the grated carrots and let it soften. Add the cod, cleaned of pimples and skin, and the crumb of bread. Drizzle with 2.5 dl of the cod broth, previously cooked, and cook until the bread softens. Add the cream and chopped parsley. Finally, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Distribute the preparation by four individual bowls or in a baking pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, cheese and bake at 200ºC for 20 min. Remove from the heat, garnish with the purple onion rings, basil and serve next.