A Peanut Problem at the Plaza


I’ve mentioned before that Algeciras people are “special”.  Special with quotation marks.  That’s not a judgement, they are actually known as “Especiales. ”   Some of their special characteristics make life challenging for a simple-minded foreigner like myself.  You need to know a lot of “special” things to get by in Algeciras.

For example, peanuts are called cacahuetes in Spanish.  Hazelnuts are avellanas.  However Algeciras natives call peanuts, avellanas and hazelnuts are refered to as avellanas americanas.  The fact that peanuts are actually from America doesn’t phases the special people of Algeciras.

Learning this explained several odd discussions I have had at the market.   But it didn’t solve the problem.  Not everyone mixes and switches their nut terminology.  It’s kind of an “extra-special” Algeciras thing.

So I asked my husband, “When someone says,  “Would you like an avellana?”, how do I know whether they are offering a peanut or a hazelnut?”

Easy, you consider the age and neighbourhood of the person and make a guess.  For example, if my mother says avellana, she means a peanut.  But if my father says avellana, he means a hazelnut.”

“Yes, but your father and mother are the same age, and not only do they live in the same neighbourhood, they live in the same house”

Yes, but they lived in different neighbourhoods before they were married.”

Oh yes, especial husband, that clears it up completely.

Excluding peanut allergies, nut mix-ups are nothing more than amusing nuisances.  Getting lost in Algeciras’ specialness is slightly more annoying.

We go downtown to do errands.

Hubby says, “I’ll meet you at the plaza”.  Which I logically conclude, means the plaza in the center of town, a logical meeting place, also a logical place to be known as “The Plaza”.  Perfectly logical assumption, to assume that the plaza is called “The Plaza”.  Yes?  No.  Not in Algeciras.

So I go to the plaza.   Rogelio wasn’t there.  He was waiting for me at the market.

“We said we would meet at the plaza.  Why were you waiting at the market?”

“I was at The Plaza”.

“No, I was at the plaza.  You were at the market.”

“We call the market The Plaza.”

“So what do you call the plaza?”

“That is called El Pueblo (The Village).”

“So if someone says Let’s go to the plaza, how do I know if they want to buy vegetables at the market or have a coffee in the main square?”

“Well, if they grew up in Algeciras, they call the plaza the pueblo and the market the plaza.”

“The same people who call peanuts, hazelnuts? 

No, the same people who call Carrefour, Continente.”

So, to know what someone means, you need to know if they are truly an Algeciras native.  Truly special.  Which begs the question, how do I know whether or not someone grew up in Algeciras?

Simple.  They’ll say “Here, I just bought a peanut at The Plaza” and hand you a hazelnut from a French grocery store that changed names 16 years ago.

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6 comments

  1. Everyone in Jimena still calls it Continente too. I’ll have to investigate the nut business though. They probably call them all cacahuetes.

    1. Funny thing is, my family is always telling me that I should learn the exchange rate between euros and pesetas. They don’t seem to find that the peseta ceased to exist 10 years ago!

  2. Interesting! I know in Zamora, where I was, green beans were not judías verdes, but fréjoles. My boyfriend’s father was always itching to teach me regionalisms, and his mother would yell at him, saying they wouldn’t be of any use to me in the future.

  3. I can’t even remember if I’ve commented on your site before, but I’ve been lurking a bit and I cannot get enough of your photo captions. Well, of anything you write. I’m practically planning my trip to Algeciras to see these “special” people (entre comillas) for myself.

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