Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Rich, Dark, Sweet and Irresistible.....

No, this is not someone’s advert(anuncio) in the Lonely (solitarios) Hearts section of the local newspaper to try and find her dream man! This is something that is a lot easier to find – chocolate!

An Aztec Drink

Although (aunque) we usually associate chocolate with the Swiss, it was Christopher Columbus who first brought it to Spain in 1502 after his fourth and final voyage. He saw some natives transporting some cocoa beans (granos de cacao) and decided to bring them back to the Spanish court. However,(Sin embargo) King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were not very interested in them and it was another Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortés, who demonstrated what they were used for. He brought back some more beans and the utensils needed to make a drink. The original chocolate drink was very different from the Cola Cao or Nesquick that we know today as it contained chillies! In fact, the original Aztec name, xocolatl, meant “bitter (amarga) water”. But the Spanish had the brilliant idea of replacing the chillies with sugar. And so it became an instant success(éxito) among (entre) the Spanish royalty and nobility.  

From the Court to the Factory (fábrica)

It was a Spanish princess, Anne of Austria, who took the Spanish habit of drinking chocolate to the French court when she married Louis XIII of France. From there its use spread (se esparció) rapidly among the other European courts and then to other levels of society. As a result of this, cocoa bean production was increased and chocolate became cheaper and more widely available.(disponible) People began experimenting with it and in 1828 a Dutch chocolate maker patented a cheap method of extracting the fat(grasa) from the roasted (asadas) cocoa beans. By using a hydraulic press, he created a type of cake that could be made into a fine powder (polvo) known as cocoa. Not only did this process make it much easier to make a better chocolate drink, but it could also be combined with sugar and cocoa butter (matequilla de cacao) to make a solid. An English chocolate maker, Joseph Storrs Fry, produced the world’s first eating chocolate in 1849. But it was the Swiss who revolutionized chocolate. Daniel Peter, a Swiss chocolate maker, had the idea of using condensed milk (this had been invented by a Swiss chemist, Henri Nestlé) to make a new type of chocolate, milk chocolate. And another Swiss chocolate maker, Rudolphe Lindt, invented a process called “conching”, which improved (mejoró) the quality of the chocolate by making it easier to blend.(mezclar)

It’s True! Chocolate is Good for You!

When the fashion of drinking chocolate became more popular, many people believed that it could cure illnesses.(enfermedades) In fact some recent studies have shown that eating chocolate can reduce the risk of a heart attack thanks to the anti-oxidants it contains. The British Medical Journal tells us that eating moderate quantities of chocolate can increase longevity. And most experts agree (están de acuerdo) that chocolate can help to reduce depression as it stimulates the release (liberar) of endorphins. These are natural hormones in the body that produce feelings of pleasure and happiness. Chocolate was considered an aphrodisiac by the Aztecs and some researchers think that chocolate makes the brain release a chemical (sustancia química) similar to that produced during a passionate love affair.(aventura amorosa)   

Chocoholics of the World Unite!

A chocoholic (adicto al chocolate) is a person who has an addiction and constant craving (antojo) for chocolate. So, if you are one of these, you can even join an online club: http://www.virtualchocolate.com/chocoholicclub/.
They will give you a certificate and a membership card.(carnet de socio) !!!!  

Friday, February 22, 2013

In, On and At with Time .

inon or at are prepositions that are often confused when talking about  time . You see, while in means en in Spanish, en doesn't always mean in in English! Now, let's take a look at how we use inon and at with time.

IN + intervals of time

He always does the housework in the morning.
The final game is in May.
She met her husband in 1990.

ON + days / dates
I get paid on the last Thursday of the month.
We arrived here on the first of May.
I’m always happy on my birthday.

AT + specific point in time ( night / weekends/ Christmas )
I have to wake up at 7 o'clock every morning.
The ghosts come out at night!
They get up late at the weekend.

Now, it's time for a quiz! The answers are in the comments below.

I went to the Pyrenees __ holiday for a week __ the end of December. We skied all morning. We stopped __ noon for lunch. __ the afternoon, we went skiing again. __ night, we went to the bar and socialized with other skiers. __ New Year's Eve, we had a party in the hotel lounge. We all talked about our highs and lows __ 2012, and what our expectations for the new year were. __ midnight, we uncorked the champagne. The next day, we woke up late. Everyone had hangovers. So nobody went skiing __ the first day of the year!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Brazilian Feijoada

In today's post we are going to show you how to prepare a delicious Feijoada, a bean stew in a thick sauce (salsa espesa) and it's one of the most typical Brazilian dishes. Let's be exotic!

The Feijoada is made of black beans and many varieties of meat, both fresh (fresca) and cured. It is generally served with side dishes (acompañamientos) of rice, fried cabbage and fresh oranges. Start your meal off with a “caipirinha”, Brazil’s famous national drink. They are also easy to make, using just made from Brazilian sugarcane liquor sugar-cane brandy (like Cachaça) limes lemon juice, sugar and ice.

Ingredients (for 15 people)

1 1/2 kg black beans

2 bay leaves (hojas de laurel)

250g lean (magro) smoked (ahumado) bacon

1 small pig’s trotter (pie de cerdo)

1 small pig’s ear (oreja de cerdo)

500g smoked ham (jamón ahumado) sausage

500g smoked pork sausage

1 large fresh sausage

250g smoked rib (costilla ahumada)

1 kilo pork loin (lomo de cerdo)

4 teaspoons (cucharada pequeña) of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic (dientes de ajo)


8 oranges

White rice

Cabbage (col)

Chilli sauce

The night before cooking: Wash the beans and soak (poner en remojo) them in water. Wash the pig’s trotter and pig’s ear.

On the morning of cooking: Boil (hierve) the beans in the water,you used to soak them, together with the bay leaves and bacon. After one hour, add the pig’s trotter and ear, the smoked ham sausage, the smoked pork sausage, the fresh sausage, the smoked ribs and the fresh loin. Add water occasionally, to make sure the meat is always covered with the broth.(caldo) Skim espuma) the fat off (grasa) the surface of the cooking pot from time to time. When the beans are soft, add three cloves of garlic. Take out 6 teaspoons of beans and mash (hazlas puré) them to make a paste. Mix the paste with the stew. Reduce the heat under the pan and taste (prueba) the stew. Add salt if you need it.

Put all the meat (cut into small pieces) on one large dish and the bean stew separately on another dish. Serve your meal with 8 oranges, peeled and sliced,(cortada en lonchas) boiled (hervido) white rice, fried cabbage and Chilli sauce.
 If you want to try it, here you have a very educative video on how to cook a nice Feijoada.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14 pays us a visit.

 Today  (Feb. 15) the 150-foot-wide (45 meters) asteroid 2012 DA14 will be just 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) from Earth — the closest encounter with such a large space rock that researchers have ever known about in advance.
Watch the video  to learn some interesting facts about this asteroid and then choose the correct answer in the listening comprehension exercise below.

1-Is DA14 visible to the unaided /naked  eye  (a simple vista) ?

A-Yes, if you know where to look.
B- No, but in some parts of the world it will be visible using a pair of binoculars.

2-Who discovered the asteroid ?

A- A group of Spanish astronomers.
B- NASA scientists.

3-Has an asteroid this size ever hit the Earth ?

A- No, never. The Earth would have been destroyed.
B- Yes, a century ago in Siberia.

4-Do we have something to worry about ?

A- No, its orbit is very well known and it will not hit the Earth .
B- Yes, the asteroid might hit the moon .

5-Is NASA on the look out for asteroids like DA14 ?

 A- Yes, nightly.
 B-  Yes, occasionally.

Answers:  1-B/2-A/3-B/4-A/5-A.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Saint Valentine's Day.

Postie, Postie, don’t be slow!

It’s a cold, wet day in February. Much better to stay in bed than to get up. But listen... the letter box is rattling... (hacer ruido) then the envelopes fall on to the mat (esterilla). Is there a Valentine’s Day card for you? Even if there is, you will never know who it is from. The card is anonymous and the sender never signs(firma) it.
From your Valentine
Valentine was a Christian priest who lived in Rome in the third century. The emperor, Claudius II, believed that single (solteros) soldiers would be better than married (casados) soldiers so he did not allow (permitir) his soldiers to marry. Valentine celebrated marriages in secret but, one day, he was caught (pillado) and sent to prison. In prison, he became friends with the jailer’s(carcelero) daughter and, before his execution, sent her a farewell note (carta de despedida) signed “From Your Valentine”.

How did the “Day of Love” start?

There are two main theories. The first is that it was connected with the Roman feast of Lupercalia. This was a fertility celebration in honour of Juno, the Roman goddess (diosa) of women and marriage. The day before the festival, each woman wrote a love letter and left it in a large urn.Then each man took one of the letters... and the woman who wrote the letter became (se convertía) his companion for a year. The other theory dates back to (se remonta a) the Middle Ages, when people realised (dieron cuenta) that birds started to mate (emparejarse) on the 14th of February. The custom of sending cards on the 14th February started in 1415 with a Frenchman, Charles Duke of Orleans. He was in prison in the Tower of London and sent a love letter to his wife on that day.


Valentine’s Day customs in the past

Sometimes, a single woman wanted to know the name of her future husband. One way to find out (averiguarlo) was to write the names of several men on different pieces of paper, roll them up (enrollados) and put them in a bowl of water. The first name that floated (flotaba) to the top was, traditionally, the name of her true love.(amor verdadero) Another custom was to put five bay leaves (hojas de laurel) under the pillow (almohada) at night and to dream of the future husband.


Valentine’s Day cards (or “Valentines”) are often marked with an X instead of the sender’s name. The X represents a kiss. Many years ago, when people could not write, they signed documents with an X and then kissed the X symbol, in front of witnesses,(testigos) to show sincerity. In the past, people also used to write SWAK on the outside of their letters to their lovers. It meant “Sealed With A Kiss”. (sellado con un beso)

Finally, let's go into this loving atmosphere by listening to a very romantic song by Bobby Vinton- Sealed With A Kiss     

Though we've got to say

Goodbye for the summer

Baby, I promise you this

I'll send you all my love

Every day in a letter

Sealed with a kiss

Yes, it's gonna be a

Cold, lonely summer

But I'll fill the emptiness

I'll send you all my dreams

Every day in a letter

Sealed with a kiss

I'll see you in the sunlight

I'll hear your voice everywhere

I'll run to tenderly hold you

But baby, you won't be there

I don't wanna say

Goodbye for the summer

Knowing the love we'll miss

So, let us make a pledge

To meet in September

And seal it with a kiss

 it's gonna be a

Cold, lonely summer

But I'll fill the emptiness

I'll send you all my love

Every day in a letter

Sealed with a kiss

Sealed with a kiss

Sealed with a kiss

Sealed with a kiss...

Happy St. Valentine’s Day; hope you get lots of cards!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Richard III Has Been Found !!

Researchers confirm that the 500-year-old skeleton found under a city centre car park in Leicester is that of King Richard III.Scientists say tests prove that it is the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.Osteologist Jo Appleby said that the study of the bones provided "a highly convincing case for identification of Richard III."And DNA from the skeleton matches a sample (coincide con una muestra taken from a distant living relative of Richard's sister.

Richard III ruled England between 1483 and 1485.His brief reign saw liberal reforms, including introduction of the right to bail (el derecho a libertad bajo fianza) and the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.His rule was challenged, and he was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII. For centuries, the location of Richard's body had been unknown. Records say he was buried by the Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in Leicester. The church was closed and dismantled after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538.

A reconstruction of King Richard III based on the bones found
The last English monarch to die in battle, Richard was described in a play by William Shakespeare as a hunchbacked (jorobado) usurper who killed many people - including those of his two princely nephews, murdered in the Tower of London - on his way to the throne. Many historians say that image is unfair, and argue Richard's reputation was smeared  (calumniada , manchada ) by his Tudor successors.

The truth is Richard III owes much of his fame to Shakespeare, because  who hasn't heard the famous line:

"A horse! A horseMy kingdom for a horse!" 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Do you resemble (parecerse) anyone in your family? Or someone famous? To what extent (hasta qué punto) do you judge a person by their appearance? Our first impressions of people are usually visual ones; before we have the chance (oportunidad) to know what someone’s personality is like, we know what they look like physically and what clothes they’re wearing. Outward (externa) appearances can sometimes tell us something about a person’s personality too, and if we like what we see or not. In this post we’re going to look at how we can describe people physically as well as (así como) how we can describe different personality traits (rasgos) – the good and the bad. 

Say What You Think

One of the most well-known words in English is beautiful and it can be used to describe almost anything or
anyone. However, there are lots of other words we use for expressing how we are attracted to something, and you can see a list in the table below. Of course, we don’t find everyone attractive and there are words in the list to describe people less favourably as well. Some words are used only or principally for one of the sexes, so pay attention to the adjective endings of the Spanish translations!

English word              Translation 

 beautiful                       hermoso/a                       
appealing                     atractivo/a
stylish                           de moda
flattering                       que favorece
gorgeous                      guapisimo/a
alluring                         tentador
provocative                  seductor
ravishing                      espectacular

I Like a Person Who’s…

Of course, a person’s personality is one of the most attractive or unattractive things about them and sometimes we only need one word to say what we think about it! Below are some adjectives to describe positive and negative characteristics that can define a person very succinctly.

English word              Translation                              
assertive                     asertivo/a                            

charming                    encantador/a                    

conceited                    presumido, vanidoso/a

astute                         astuto/a

inspiring                      inspirador/a

witty                           gracioso/a

affectionate                 cariñoso/a

unaffected                   humilde, modesto/a

outspoken                   franco
outrageous                  extravagante

Friday, February 1, 2013

Elvis Presley. In the Ghetto.

"In the Ghetto" (originally titled "The Vicious Circle") was written by Mac Davis and recorded by Elvis in 1969. This song is about poverty,(pobreza)  describing a child born in the ghetto of Chicago. The boy grows up hungry and learns how to steal and fight. He  buys a gun , steals a car  and   attempts to run away, but is shot and killed just as another child is born. The song implies that the newborn  (recién nacido) will meet the same fate ( mismo destino, continuing the cycle of poverty and violence. This was the first song by Elvis with a socially-conscious message. 


As the snow flies (mientras cae la nieve)
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin' ( en una fría y gris mañana en Chicago)
A poor little baby child is born  ( un pequeño bebé pobre nace )
In the ghetto
And his mama cries ( y su madre llora)
Cause if there's one thing that she don't need (pues si hay algo que no necesita )
is another hungry mouth to feed (es otra boca hambrienta que alimentar)
In the ghetto
People, don't you understand ?  (gente ¿ no lo entendéis ? )
The child needs a helping hand  ( el chico necesita que le echen una mano)
Or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day ( o crecerá siendo un hombre  lleno de ira algún día)

Take a look at you and me,(mírate y mírame)
Are we too blind to see,( ¿Estamos tan ciegos para no darnos cuenta ?)
Do we simply turn our heads ? (simplemente giramos la cabeza)
And look the other way (y miramos hacía otro lado)
Well, the world turns (Bueno, el mundo gira)
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose ( y un pequeño y hambriento niño con mocos en la nariz)
Plays in the street as the cold wind blows ( juega en lacalle mientras sopla un frío viento)
In the ghetto
And his hunger burns ( Y su hambre arde )
So he starts to roam the streets at night (así que empieza a vagar por las calles por la noche)
And he learns how to steal (Y aprende  a robar)
And he learns how to fight  (Y aprende a pelear)
In the ghetto
Then one night in desperation (Entonces ,una noche desesperado)
A young man breaks away (un joven rompe con todo)
He buys a gun, steals a car,(compra una pistola, roba un coche)
Tries to run, but he don't get far (intenta escapar pero no llega lejos)
And his mama cries (Y su mamá llora)
As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man (mientras un grupo  de personas se agolpa alrededor de un joven lleno de ira)
Face down on the street with a gun in his hand ( que yace boca abajo en la calle con una pistola en la mano)
In the ghetto

As her young man dies, ( mientras su joven muere)
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin',(en una fría y gris mañana en Chicago.)
Another little baby child is born (otro pequeño bebé nace)
In the ghetto
And his mama cries

On a lighter note below is the cover version of the song by the unique "El Príncipe Gitano".Probably not the best version of the song but definitely one of the funniest !