‘Alicantinese’ for foreigners with the letter ‘C’
If you are a foreigner, you might be surprised to discover that we have two official languages: Valencian and Castilian. If you have come here to stay, I invite you to learn both so you can enjoy reading both the works of María Beneyto and those of Miguel Hernández. Since you are likely to give priority to Castilian, I will hereafter teach you three typical terms associated with Alicante that you are unlikely to learn in any ‘Spanish as a foreign language’ class!
An infinite amount of songs celebrate the beach, but if you truly want to enjoy the Mediterranean, then you ought to opt for a cala. A cala is a very small beach confined within the rocks that has been formed as a result of the seawater’s erosion of the coastline. They are not easy to access, often it is necessary to descend a little and to leave your vehicle behind to reach them. But they are well worth it if you are fond of snorkelling, natural landscapes and transparent waters. There are many calas spread along our coastline. Even though their existence and location are not secret, I will not recommend you any specific ones. As they offer a greater degree of privacy, part of the joy they offer consists, after all, in discovering them.
If you are worried that enjoying our delicious rice dishes is not the best thing to do before or after bathing, try carrying a coca or several of them wrapped in paper in your backpack. A coca is a round pastry that can either be sweet or savoury (here in Alicante savoury is the norm) with a filling, in Alicante usually on top. They come in all flavours and sizes you can think of, but they are always handmade, and therefore, made with love. You can find them in the traditional bakeries or among the tapas’ selection in the bars and coffee shops. The one most associated with Alicante has a tuna and onion filling and is typical of the festivities of San Juan.
You may have seen in the news how every year, at night during this saint’s day, we like to lit campfires on the beach, and then enjoy jumping over them with our friends as if they were just an innocent obstacle. That same night we also celebrate the Cremá in the province’s capital. The Cremá – or burning- is the climax of the city’s greatest festivities (and also that of the Fallas in Valencia). It is the moment we set the cardboard figures and landscapes erected with such much effort in the streets and neighbourhoods across town on fire, one after another. It is a magical and unique moment that should be on your bucket list.
Alright, I confess-cremá is Valencian. But has not it helped you to get understand us the people from Alicante a little better, lucky inhabitants of the best region in the world?
By Vicent Puig i Llobell