A year with Duolingo learning Spanish

Hurrah for me! Yesterday I did my 365th day with Duolingo, learning Spanish and “playing” with other languages. As I’ve mentioned before I originally set out to develop an extensive glossary of Spanish terms for food and for restaurant menus WITHOUT attempting to learn the language itself. I was relatively sure I could accomplish this goal despite persuasion from others that I should learn the language.

My main resistance to trying to learn Spanish was failure in my previous attempts using conventional learning materials, initially audio tapes, then later with DVDs. These materials weren’t much help but also used a different learning technique (also more traditional) than Duolingo. So when I discovered Duolingo AND began to try to learn some Spanish with it I found it was much more helpful. And the early success I had encouraged me to keep going, ultimately leading to much of my available time devoted to learning Spanish rather than working on menus, as was my original intent.

Not only does Duolingo take full advantage of newer cloud-based technology it seems to have the attitude of making learning “fun” through various gamification tactics. Since it’s free and its revenue comes for ads it also encourages you to do more study than you might otherwise so. Over the year Duolingo has even increased these incentives with various “competitions” (just for bragging rights) but designed to give you more “rewards” than just learning the lessons. All this worked for me and I soon found myself nearly addicted to doing Duolingo every day.

I mostly used the PC version of Duo instead of the phone app version. Mostly I hate trying to type on phones (plus spell correct initially changed some Spanish words to English and thus I got the drills “wrong”), but also typing, especially after I learned how to setup typing on my PC to type Spanish (i.e. accents and ¿ and ¡ easier. Since Duo drills involve a lot of typing (transcribing audio, translating sentences) the PC version worked better for me.

As I used Duo more and more I decided to also explore other languages. While I’m doing the Spanish lessons thoroughly (each “skill” has five levels, in Spanish I complete all five levels before moving on (the next lesson is “unlocked” after finishing level 1, but I do all the levels) I also decided to have “fun” with other languages. I had two years of French in middle school with a very conversational approach and then two years of German in high school with a more conventional “academic” approach. Duo is a mixture of these two styles of learning language. So, despite German being my least well learned foreign language I actually rushed through the lessons and got my first “owl” (completing all lessons to at least one level) in German. I remembered French better (plus it’s an easier language) so I went through more levels in French but haven’t finish the entire “tree” (the complete set of “skills”).

For fun I also did some Portuguese, Italian and Catalan. I’ve visited Portugal, without knowing any of the language (again I got tapes and a book and learned nothing). I’d had some exposure to Italian because my first attempt, decades ago, at developing a glossary for food/restaurant terms was for Italian, after once visiting a restaurant in California where the menu was entirely in Italian and I was lost ordering. So since I, someday, want to do Italian and Portuguese more thoroughly I only did a few of those lessons. Interestingly learning Catalan is not available from an English base; instead you learn Catalan from Spanish and since I didn’t know Spanish I couldn’t get far with those lessons.

And, then, after reading a lot of the comments the Duo community generates I also decided to start the learn English from Spanish tree after I’d done about 20 skills in Spanish. The vocabulary used in the English lessons generally matches the vocabulary in the Spanish learning so by the time I started “learning” English I knew most of the Spanish words used to create the drill questions.

So the consequence of all this is I’ve: a) learned quite a bit, and, b) piled up a lot of the various scores Duo uses for incentives to keep learning. So, as a summary I’ve accumulated 118,559 XPs. Usually 10 XPs are granted for completing a drill (usually about 20 questions) with some bonus points, in any language. Also I soon discovered “stories” (for Spanish, English, French, German and Portuguese) which are a dialog (rather than isolated drill sentences) and generally completing one of the stories generates about 24 XPs. So this translates to having done about 8000 individual sets of drills or stories, or about 20/day, which translates to about an hour a day, well over the “minimum” (15 minutes) that Duo recommends. That means I’ve done about 400 hours in Duo and they claim 35 hours is equivalent to a semester. Now for Spanish I’ve acquired 71,691 XPs which means about 60% of my time in Duo is for Spanish or approximately 160 hours. So, have I done five semesters. NO WAY! Using a different system of rating language fluency, the CERF system, I’ve done online tests and have just barely achieved the A1 level (and maybe 1/2 of A2). One could expect to achieve this level of fluency in less than a year of classic classes (either high school or college level). I’ve spent more hours than classes would require but I’ve learned less. BUT, I’ve learned way more than I could have expected based on previous (failed) attempts.

I’ve also now done 78 of the Spanish “skills” so I’m only about half way through what Duo has to offer. So projecting it’s going to take me another full year to finish the Duo Spanish course. I would expect after completing my next year to be somewhere past the A2 level which should be good enough for most “tourist” conversations in a Spanish speaking country. Duo makes the learning fun so I do believe I will finish all Duo has to offer for Spanish and then I’ll need to supplement my learning with other sources.

In addition I have received 1114 crowns, an award given for completing any level within a skill. For Spanish I have 388 crowns which is nearly half of the 797 maximum. I’ve also gotten 300 crowns in French and 288 in German. Duo says I’ve learned 2174 words in Spanish. Since I’m obsessed with this I wrote my own program for drills (smart flashcards) and so I accumulated all the vocabulary I’d encountered in Duo (along with both masculine and feminine forms (mostly for adjectives) and plurals, even though Duo doesn’t count all these variations). For verbs I also enter all the conjugations (the five persons used in all Spanish countries, Duo doesn’t do much with the plural “you” (vosotros)). By now at 78 lessons I’ve had three conjugations in indicative mood (present, preterite and imperfect) and one conjugation in imperative. Spanish verbs are fairly regular but nonetheless there are still two indicative tenses (future and conditional) I haven’t hit (yet) in Duo and all of the subjunctive. So still a lot to do with verbs. But according to my drill file (the XML that contains all the words from Duo, with all the variants) I have “learned” (at least encountered) 1453 “root” words (the masculine singular or verb infinitive) and 3129 total forms; IOW, assuming I actually know all these (and I usually remember about 98%) that’s learning around 9 “words” per day. And that is a tiny fraction of the vocabulary (even only considering fairly common words) of Spanish. For instance, in comparison, I’ve encountered 128 verbs and meanwhile, as part of my original project, I’ve found over 500 verbs related to cooking. I believe one needs to know around 300 verbs in order to at least stumble through simple conversations, so again all these metrics indicate I’m still about a year away from any conversation in Spain or Ecuador (I could probably stumble through ordering in a restaurant, in conjunction with the 2000+ words I’ve accumulated through menu study (only a few of these appear in Duo).

SO, IOW, I’ve made a lot of progress, more than I could have expected, and simultaneously I have a huge amount left to learn. Maybe I’ll keep doing this blog long enough that eventually I can claim “fluency” in restaurant and/or cooking conversation.

All of this is a pleasant achievement for me BUT there is a major flaw in my learning. Most of what I “know” is in written form, not audible. Duo provides some practice in listening but almost none in speaking. Thus “conversation” would still be nearly impossible for me.

When I first heard audible drills in Duo (beyond just a word or simple phrase) it was all just a jumble of sound. Spanish is spoken rapidly and pauses between words are almost non-existence. Thus “parsing” an utterance was nearly impossible for me, at first; now, it’s just hard. So I’ve tried to supplement Duo with an obvious resource: TV. My cable subscription has tons of Spanish language stations, some of which have closed captioning (not the same as sub-titles) and a few channels allow selecting either English or Spanish captions. Listening to those, without captions, I hear almost nothing, and with captions I hear a little more. So I have a huge hill to climb before I could understand what a waiter might say to me in a restaurant.

Speaking and listening are different problems. While I have no way to practice speaking, nonetheless I can probably stumble through that better than listening. While speaking I can take time, in my head, to think of what I want to say. And while I might pronounce the words badly I could probably (mostly) use the right words, at least for a simple request or query. But listening one has to do in “real time”, i.e. the sounds flies by and you get it or not, with no control over the speed.

So I have two major challenges, on top of learning to read/write Spanish and that is hearing (just have to get faster at parsing utterances) and speaking (pronunciation, plus details of sentence structure that sound correct, rather than sorta Spanglish). I do know that knowing more words (and at least having heard them in Duo exercises) makes hearing a sentence easier. Listening to Spanish TV I literally wouldn’t “hear” anything without the work I’ve done, but, still, unlike reading (where I can skip an unknown word and “read” the rest, then maybe guess the unknown word from context), I’ll just have to have a ton more practice before I can hear.

So on one hand I’m happy with my first year of Spanish and simultaneously totally unhappy about how little I really do know, especially for a conversation.

So, Dear Reader, catch up with me in a year and see whether I can claim at least simple conversational fluency. At least, both from Duo and my menu reading project, I should be able to read the menus and order in Spain.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Many places along the Camino (and in cities) there are outdoor signs letting you know what meals you can get inside. One of the most common, especially along the Camino is desayuno (el, breakfast). And sometimes you might see cena (la, dinner) and rarely almuerzo (el, lunch). The main reason, IMHO, one rarely sees almuerzo is that you’re more likely to see something like hamburguesas (which despite the similarity to English is not necessarily (can be) a “hamburger” as generally this refers to any kind patty (not even meat) on a bun) or bocadillos (most similar to a “sub” in US, i.e. some sandwich on a roll, rarely with a lot of “toppings” as is common in US sub shops) or just sándwiches (which does, usually, seem to be with sliced bread instead of bun or roll) and the ubiquitous pizza (no translation needed).  While sit-down almuerzo does exist, at least along walking routes a stand-up hand foot is more common. And what you won’t see, in Spain, is tocos or even tapas (at least outside, this is inside bar food).

But the interesting thing (to me) is the tendency in Spanish to have nouns and verbs directly connected. So in English the Brits might say “we breakfast” but you won’t hear that much in USA so it’s either “we are having breakfast” or “we’re eating breakfast”, but in Spanish there is a verb for this, which is (given the noun I gave you above) the obvious desayunar. And its conjugated, first person singular indicative present is desayuno (the yo before it is option) which just happens to be the noun. So if you hear (or read) desayuno you’ll have to use other context to decide if it is the noun, BUT, here’s the reason, just the word, is almost certainly the noun. It doesn’t make sense to see a sign that says “I eat breakfast” and if they were inviting you in to eat your breakfast they’d have to say desayunas (if they’re a bit too friendly and so use the informal form, desayuna for usted) but since they’d be inviting the world the even more logical word would be desayunan (the plural polite you), or even the command desayunen. I’ve never see any of these so we can safely assume the only form you’ll see  (at least on a sign, in a story, written or verbal, you’ll see these other forms) is desayuno.

Likewise almuerzo (lunch) is related to the verb almorzar. Now note this verb is irregular but in the general class known as stem changing verbs. The -mor- doesn’t conjugate so well so it gets replaced with -muer-. So once again almuerzo can be the noun for lunch or the conjugated first person singular form of the verb.

Likewise, for dinner there is the verb cenar (to have dinner) but it too is an exception since the noun cena is NOT 1st person conjugation but instead the 3rd person. And even though I can’t find an authoritative source on this the cena form is probably chosen because frequently nouns ending in -a are feminine (as is la cena) and so the first person of cenar, ceno, would tend to imply masculine.

Gender has always been a strange concept to me (at least for nouns) even when I first encountered it in French in middle school and later in German in high school. Why in the world is dinner feminine and lunch and breakfast are masculine? Undoubtedly there is some reason, possibly even lost in time. But it sure is a pain to have to now remember three different things in Spanish, the conjugated form of a verb (if there is one corresponding to a noun), the noun itself and then its gender. For a traveler walking the Camino none of this probably matters since quickly one gets used to the noun forms. But the interesting question is whether you can get desayuno a las siete en la tarde (as now you can from McDonald’s)

Repurposing or inventing verbos for cocinar

One benefit of actually trying to learn Spanish is understanding how verbs work and how this understanding can make reading menus easier. Verbs are interesting in Spanish: first, there are a lot of them, often for a very specialized purpose, and, two, derivatives of verbs may appear in descriptions of food.

For instance, for many verbs the first person singular indicative mood present tense conjugation is also a noun, e.g. for trabajar (to work) [yo] trabajo means “I work”, but trabajo is also the noun for ‘job’ . Also the participles, especially present (aka gerund) can be used as an adjective (and then its ending matches gender and number), e.g. for ahumar (to smoke) ahumad{o|a}[s] (ahumado ahumada ahumados ahumadas) would mean ‘smoked’ and might appear in a menu item.

But other verbs, in the long list I’ve accumulated are not that likely to appear on menus but are frequently used in recetas (recipes) which sometimes appear somewhere on the website for restaurants. So even highly specialized verbs, e.g. desbarbar, which Google thinks is ‘deburr’ may be useful to know (in this case, its meaning changes to removing the fins from a fish).

So I’ve found at least 327 verbs that apply to cooking. Some have relatively common meanings, e.g. abrir (to open), agregar (to add), aplastar (to crush) and others have more specific meaning, relative to cooking, that are not found in dictionaries and thus can be quite difficult to translate.

So how did I get this list of 327 verbs? First I looked in various lists I found online of “common” verbs and extracted the ones that might apply to cooking, such as echar, which has many meanings, but in the context of cooking is ‘to pour’. Second, I searched for lists of verbs related to cooking and I found about 15 of these lists (with English translations). So I extracted everything from these lists, from the webpages, converted them to a common format, and sorted them and then began to: a) lookup definitions in the three dictionaries I use (spanishdict.com, Oxford and DLE (aka RAE, the official authoritative dictionary); often some cooking verbs do not appear in these dictionaries; and, b) to consolidate the various translations, which sometimes contradict each other to create the most useful (relative to cooking) translation I can create. I expected, when I am done with this (a tedious and time-consuming process, that requires a bit of OCD to complete) that I might be able to create the most extensive list of cooking related verbs anywhere on the Internet.

I was working on this a long time ago, without really getting much more done than accumulating raw data, and thus, since starting that sub-project, have learned quite a bit more Spanish, not that much in terms of vocabulary, but a better understanding of sentence structure and especially verb conjugation (since so many verbs are regular). Plus my year of studying Spanish has made it possible that I can “read” (with some lookups in dictionaries) much better than I could before actually learning some of the language and also I’ve had a lot more practice using Google Translate and comparing its results with my own translations, but also where I’ve found parallel Spanish and English texts (many sites in Spain are multilingual and so I have human translations, by Spanish speakers, to compare to Google’s translation and my attempt at translation).

So when I returned to this project of trying to get good clean and consistent definitions of these 327 verbs I started doing some searches of multiple verbs at once, e.g. search for ‘abarquillar abatir  ablandar acanalar … receta‘ (or any list of at least four verbs) which I thought might get hits on glossaries written in Spanish (instead of what I’d previously found, glossaries of Spanish words with English translations). And, in fact, I found some excellent sources, that often provide very comprehensive explanations of these cooking terms even though I have to muddle through reading the explanation in Spanish (with help from dictionaries and Google translate).

So with all that as a preface and explanation of the process whereby I’ll eventually add a page to this blog with all the verbs I’ve found with English translations (in terms of cooking and food) I’ll provide a couple of interesting examples of this process from the ones I’ve now finished (abarquillar abatir ablandar abrillantar abrir acabar acanalar acaramelar acecinar aceitar aceptar achicharrar acidular acitronar aderezar adobar agarrarse agregar ahumar)

So let’s start with abarquillar . spanishdict.com has some meanings: to curl up; roll up; to wrinkle; to warp. Now frankly that doesn’t help much, especially without some context. So in trying to go beyond dictionaries and find this verb in the context of cooking I stumbled onto a wonderful site (several actually, but this was the best).


I’ll extract a bit of its explanation (in Spanish, plus my slightly edited Google Translate)

Muchas veces los términos culinarios son muy descriptivos por sí mismos, de manera que aunque no conozcamos su definición exacta podemos tener una idea aproximada de a qué se están refiriendo. Es el caso del término abarquillar, que obviamente nos recuerda a una determinada forma. La definición tradicional de la RAE es: Encorvar un cuerpo ancho y delgado (una plancha metálica, una lámina, un papel, etc.) como si fuera un barquillo. Many times the culinary terms are very descriptive in themselves, so even if we don’t know their exact definition we can have a rough idea of what they are referring to. This is the case of the term abarquillar, which obviously reminds us of a certain form. The traditional definition of the DLE is: to develop a wide and thin body (a metal plate, a sheet, a paper, etc.) as if it were a wafer
Abarquillar en cocina Abarquillar in kitchen
En cuanto a término culinario su definición es un poco más precisa. Abarquillar se refiere a tomar forma convexa, de barquillo. Ocurre con la carne frita o asada. La forma de evitar que esto suceda es sacar el tejido nervioso que la rodea la carne y luego golpearla con una maza. As for the culinary term, its definition is a bit more precise. Abarquillar refers to taking convex, wafer shape. It occurs with fried or roasted meat. The way to prevent this from happening is to remove the nervous tissue that surrounds the meat and then hit it with a club.

Got it? Well, it turns out the picture at that website is a bit more useful – it shows bacon. Now if you’ve ever cooked bacon in a skillet you know it starts as a flat piece and as it cooks it “crinkles” and the ends curl up. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. Likewise if you’ve ever fried a thin cutlet, with some fat on the edge you know it can curl up into a “convex wafer”. So that’s what this verb means, in cooking context, how meat curls up while cooking. So this website, which really has some excellent instruction on cooking skills explains how to prevent this (for bacon, the only real answer is baking it, not frying it; or if frying constantly flattening the bacon).

Now I doubt this verb would appear, in any form, on a menu but it certainly could be found in recetas. So it’s definitely something to have in a comprehensive list of cooking verbs.

So let’s move on to abatir (to bring down, as closest meaning Oxford provides) and use the same process, which led me to putting this definition in my glossary, ‘to blast chill’. For this same cooking site here’s some of its explanation:

¿En qué consiste abatir en la cocina? What is to bring down in the kitchen?
Aunque la palabra abatir no aparezca en el diccionario de la RAE como un término gastronómico, lo cierto es que sí que se suele aplicar en el universo de la cocina. En este caso, cuando usamos “abatir” estamos haciendo referencia a una manera de procesar los ingredientes que una herramienta que se conoce como abatidor de temperatura. Although the word abatir does not appear in the DLE dictionary as a gastronomic term, the truth is that it is usually applied in the kitchen universe. In this case, when we use “abate” we are referring to a way to process the ingredients that a tool is known as a temperature abductor.

IOW, this cooking instruction site is explaining the sophisticated (and rather expensive) device, often found on cooking TV shows, known as a blast chiller. This device can reduce (hence “bring down”) the temperature of something hot to a very low temperature very quickly. So this verb’s conventional meaning is quite different in the cooking context; and perhaps it might appear on a sophisticated menu.

And then there is abrillantar whose dictionary definition is “to polish, to enhance”, but in the cooking sense it really means “to glaze”, as in brush a glaze on a ham before (or during) cooking. So the gerund, abrillantando, has actually appeared in some menus. And there is acanalar whose dictionary definition is “to dig channels in, to corrugate”. Now what could that possibly mean for food. Well it applies a lot to preparing crusts for pastries, so this too might appear on menus.

And then a verb that is hard to decide, which came first, the verb or the food item itself, and that is acecinar.  This has dictionary meanings, “to salt, to cure” or “to get very thin”, some help but not enough. But then we connect it to Cecina de León, a prized item you will see on a lot of menus. The closest English equivalent is the noun jerky (and the verb I’ll invent for English, to jerkify). Jerky in the USA can resemble Cecina but it’s not the same thing, even though jerky is “thin” and “cured”.

And so finally we have agarrarse (the pronomial form) whose dictionary definition is “to hold on”, but in the most relevant context means “to stick”. So again from Mami Recetas website:

Cuando cocinamos y elaboramos una receta, es posible que a veces esta se “agarre”. Este término suele ser muy conocido entre los amantes de la cocina y de la gastronomía pero, también, puede ser que no termines de comprender a qué hace referencia. When we cook and prepare a recipe, it is possible that sometimes it is “caught”. This term is usually well known among lovers of cuisine and gastronomy but, also, you may not understand what it refers to.
En este artículo de Mami Recetas vamos a descubrirte qué significa agarrarse en la cocina para que, así, comprendas mejor toda la terminología del sector gastronómico. In this article of Mami Recipes we will discover what it means to hold on to the kitchen so that, thus, you better understand all the terminology of the gastronomic sector.
¿Qué es Agarrarse en la cocina? What is holding on in the kitchen?
En muchas recetas podrás encontrarte con consejos y recomendaciones que te indican que es mejor evitar que la comida “se agarre” o que la receta termine “agarrándose”. Pero ¿qué significa esto exactamente? Básicamente es un sinónimo del término “pegarse”, por tanto, cuando indicamos que se debe ir con cuidado para que una receta no se agarre, en realidad, estamos indicando que se debe evitar que se “pegue”. In many recipes you can find tips and recommendations that tell you that it is better to avoid that the food “grabs” or that the recipe ends “clinging.” But what does this mean exactly? Basically it is a synonym for the term “stick”, therefore, when we indicate that you should be careful so that a recipe does not get caught, in reality, we are indicating that you should avoid “sticking”.

It’s often difficult to reduce these lengthy explanations to a single line translation, but as an example here’s what I’ve accomplished thus far:

abarquillar to wrap, to curl up, to roll up, to crinkle, to wrinkle
abatir to blast chill (lit: to bring down)
ablandar to tenderize, to soften (butter)
abrillantar to glaze, to polish, to enhance
acanalar to dig channels in, to corrugate, to groove, to furrow, to flute
acaramelar to caramelize, to coat with caramel
acecinar to preserve meat with salt, smoke and drying
aceitar to oil, to pour oil onto, to lubricate
achicharrar to scorch, to burn, to burn to a crisp
acidular to acidulate, to make sour
acitronar to fry until crisp/transparent
aderezar to season, to dress, to garnish, to adorn, to liven up, to spice
adobar to marinate, to pickle, to dress
agarrarse to stick (lit: to hold on)
ahumar to smoke, to fill with smoke

So I have a long way to go as this is a time-consuming process but I hope to have a comprehensive set of verbs soon to post here. And then, knowing a few ways verbs get converted into other terms, this list may help with looking at menus.





¡Volví! ¿me extrañaste? Ha sido un tiempo.

Si, puedo tutearse ya que nosotros son amigos. Or IOW, I can address you, Dear Reader, as since we’re friends here. And to my new friends, who may read this blog for the first time I’m old and thus more likely senior to you and so I don’t have to use the formal ustedes.

I haven’t written any posts about Spanish to use for food and restaurants as is the plan for this blog since I’ve been very busy. I haven’t lost interest and intend to continue more exciting posts about interesting Spanish terminology you’ll find on menus in Spain (and, mostly, for other Spanish speaking countries).

When I started finding and decoding menus along the Camino de Santiago in Spain I didn’t know any Spanish. I thought I could still figure out the Spanish on menus by associating what I find on menus with either human or automated translations, plus a lot of searching for more obscure (non dictionary) terms. Several people insisted I’d need to learn Spanish in order to do this, but, initially, I dismissed that suggestion.

I didn’t try to learn Spanish because I had tried in the past with little success, using the conventional learning materials. But, fortunately, there are new tools today. So I’m now on my 352nd day of using Duolingo to actually try to learn the language. Duolingo is great and I’m about half way through its Spanish course. But at the same time I found I needed to do other things and fortunately there are lots of other sources to use for study.

So I’ve done about 64,000 individual drills in Duolingo and so have picked up over 3000 words. I can (just barely) get through the A1 CERF tests. I’ve also “read” about 50 beginner stories, plus even tried some literature (way beyond even A2 level, but interesting to try). I’ve “read” (with lots of help from dictionary since the vocabulary is more extensive than Duolingo) lots of recipes (recetas) and descriptive text at numerous restaurant websites in Spain. So I get a lot of practice reading.

But I don’t get any practice speaking (no partner/tutor/teacher for that) and not much practice listening (Duo’s audio is easier than real speaking), but I try to follow numerous TV programs or even specialized programs, like the wonder La Casa de las Flores on Netflix. When I started all spoken Spanish was just a blur of sound to me, but now I can catch a little bit. I still don’t have enough vocabulary to recognize enough of the words to detect word boundaries, which really (to my ear) blur together in spoken Spanish.

So while I have another year to study ahead, to finish the Duolingo course and probably get near the A2 level and then also maybe have 5000 word vocabulary I’ve learned enough that it’s much easier for me to read restaurant websites. I’ve had lots of opportunity to see what the automated translation does right and wrong and so I can use both my knowledge, the automated translations and additional analysis to get most of the content.

Thus I should be able to do even better posts. Even though I didn’t know the language, before, I did figure out enough, IMHO, to find and describe some interesting things about Spanish menus, so now I expect to do even better.

Also, in previous posts I described my “virtual” trek on the Camino. Simply, to encourage myself to do exercise on my treadmill, I converted my exercise mileage along a GPS track to find my location on Google Maps and then use their overhead views, photos, the StreetView (when available) and other geotagged sites to “explore” the Camino. And as I previously posted I eventually did the entire distance, 796.4km (about 500 miles) to  Santiago de Compostela.

So, after getting there, I needed a new “virtual” trek goal so as I previously posted I started the French part of the Camino, starting a Le Puy en Velay and I’ve now reached Conques, 125 miles. While “walking” the Spanish part I “stopped” at every restaurant and hotel/albergue to look at all the photos, mostly of food or menus. I could do the same thing in France (and sometimes do) but information about that route is less plentiful and what I find on Google Maps is both French language and French food, which is wonderful (I did have some French in school), but not my goal. So that virtual trek has not been as engaging to me and thus I haven’t done any posts about it (and probably won’t).

Meanwhile I really want to turn all this purely vicarious activity into something real so I continue to look at two things: a) some Spanish speaking country to visit, not just as tourist, but really trying to get to know, and now my focus is on Ecuador, but probably only after some of the political unrest there settles down, and, b) trying to do one of the immersive language study programs in a Spanish speaking country (some excellent sources of these things can be found online).

So I have lots to keep me busy and thus I won’t have time for as many posts as I was originally doing, but now I’ll try to find something, still focused on food, to discuss.

One of my next projects will be this:

abarquillar abrillantar abrir acabar acanalar acaramelar aceitar aceptar achicharrar acidular acitronar aderezar adobar agregar ahumar albardar alcanzar aliñar almibarar almorzar amar amasar añadir andar anisar apagar aparecer aplanar aplastar aprender aromatizar asar asustar atar aviar ayudar bañar bardar batir beber blanquear brasear bridar buscar caer calentar cambiar capear caramelizar cascar catar cenar cepillar cernir chafar chamuscar chorrear cincelar clarificar cocer cocinar colar combinar comenzar comer comprar comprender condimentar conducir confitar congelar conocer conseguir conservar considerar contar convertir correr cortar crear creer cuajar cubrir cumplir dar deber decantar decidir decir decorar degustar dejar derramar derretir desalar desayunar desbabar desbardar desbridar descamar descansar descongelar descubrir desengrasar desglasar desgranar desgrasar deshuesador deshuesar desleír desmoldar desnatar desplumar desvenar dirigir disfrutar doblar dorar dormir echar emborrachar embridar empanar empanizar empezar emplatar emulsionar encender encontrar endulzar enfriar engrasar enharinar entender entrar envolver escabechar escaldar escalfar escamar escribir escuchar escurrir especiar esperar espesar espolvorear espumar estar estirar estofar estudiar evaporar existir explicar exprimir fermentar filetear flambear flamear formar forrar freír frotar fundir ganar glasear gratinar guisar gustar haber hablar hacer helar hervir hornear humear humedecer imaginar incorporar instilar intentar introducir ir jugar laminar lavar leer levantar levar ligar limpiar llamar llegar llenar llevar lograr machacar majar mantener marear marinar masticar mechar medir mezclar mirar mojar moldear moler mondar montar morir mover nacer napar necesitar nevar ocurrir ofrecer oír oler pagar paño parecer partir pasar pasteurizar pedir pelar pensar perder perfumar permitir picar pinchar pochar poder poner precalentar preguntar preparar presentar probar producir quedar quemar querer quitar rallar realizar rebanar rebozar recalentar recibir recomendar reconocer recordar reducir regar regresar rehogar rellenar remojar remover repetir reservar restregar resultar revisar revolver rociar romper rostir saber sabor sacar salar salir salpicar salpimentar saltear sancochar sazonar secar seguir sellar sentir ser servir soasar socarrar sofreír subir sumergir suponer tajar tamizar tapar tener terminar tocar tomar tostar trabajar traducir traer transferir tratar trinchar triturar trocear trufar untar usar utilizar vaciar vaporar vaporear vaporizar venir ver verter viajar vivir voltear volver

Yes, that’s a massive list of the verbs I’ve found in over twenty different sources that relate to cooking or dining. Finding, extracting, cleaning up, merging and then getting “consensus” translations is tedious work but I’m chugging through this list (far bigger than any single list I found anywhere online) and will surely have some material for posts and probably another page (like my glossary) to provide what I think will be the most comprehensive online list. The one I marked with bold are the ones I now just know from my Duolingo study, not bad for an old dog who knew zero Spanish a year ago. But this also shows how little food/cooking/restaurant information is available in standard Spanish courses and how much more there is to learn.

By the way here are some verbos of interest:

desayunar to eat breakfast (el desayuno)
almorzar to eat lunch (el almuerzo)
cenar to eat dinner (la cena)
comer to eat
beber/tomar to drink

So plenty to do and hopefully more interesting posts to follow.


Vamos a caminar y comer.


¡buen provecho!