First Classes + Sopa de Ajo

I finally started teaching on Monday!  I teach at an Instituto Escolar Secondaria, or IES, which is like a high school, but starts at age 12 and incorporates both the Enseñanza Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO), which goes for four years from ages 12-16, and the optional Bachillerato, an optional 2 years of additional study focusing on a certain subject area, with the aim of going to the University to study said area.  I think it’s crazy that students are expected to decide at 16 what they want to do, especially coming from a liberal arts background where I didn’t have to choose my major until the end of sophomore year (nor would I have been happy had I chosen earlier.  I would probably have ended up majoring in Economics, which I loved in high school, and hated every minute of in college.).

I work with six different groups of students in la ESO: four groups of segundos (second year, ages 12-13), one of terceros (third), and one of quartos (fourth).  I also have six groups of Bachillerato, three each of first and second years.  There are seven English teachers at my school, and I have two classes each with five of them, and one each with the other two who only teach English part-time.  In almost all of the classes, I take half of the group to a different classroom to talk, and then switch halves the following week.  Classes here are also fairly large, usually 24-28 students, so this means I usually have a group of between 12 and 14 kids at a time.

So what that means is this:  By the end of classes tomorrow, I will have met approximately 140 students, give or take.  Next week, I will be meeting ANOTHER 140 students.  I will then see each student once, for 50 minutes, every two weeks.  Somehow, I’m supposed to remember all of their names.  I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to make that happen.  I have sheets with their student ID photos and names on them, but even with those, I am feeling very overwhelmed.  Today, I thought my first class was messing with me, because I introduced myself with a brief presentation, and then asked them to go around and say their names.  Of the first seven boys who introduced themselves, five said their name was David.  I didn’t believe the fourth one, and definitely not the fifth, but then when I pulled out my list of names, it turns out that there are six Davids in their class of 25, five of whom have last names in the first half of the class alphabetically.  ¡Qué confuso! (How confusing!)

All in all, though, I think classes are going very well.  Since I’m basically just helping them practice speaking and understanding English, I can do almost anything with them, as long as it’s in English.  With one of my groups of bachillerato today, I had them take turns describing different movies, and everyone had to guess which movie they were talking about.  I’d love any suggestions on games to play or things to do!

I’ve also started private lessons.  Right now I have four, but I’m talking to three more potential students, which should turn out to be quite a nice supplemental income.  These are also basically just giving the students practice speaking and understanding English.  It’s sometimes hard to find things to talk about for the whole hour, though.  One of my default questions (unsurprisingly) is to ask them to tell me about foods that are typical of Valladolid, or Castilla y Leon in general, and yesterday, one of my students mentioned Sopa de Ajo.  I’ve had a recipe for this bookmarked for months, but I never have the right kind of bread on hand at home.  But yesterday I realized I have exactly the right ingredients, so there was dinner.

Start by chopping a bunch of garlic.  I used four cloves, but the garlic here is enormous, so maybe 6 cloves of average size.

Next, cut some stale bread into cubes.  I used a six-inch piece of baguette for four cups of liquid; next time I’d put less bread.

Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan or small pot, then add the bread and a nice helping of pimentón picante (spicy smoked paprika), probably around a teaspoon.  Toast the bread in the olive oil until it starts to crisp up, then add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add about 4 cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock.  Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes.  Then crack an egg into the broth, put the lid on, and let it poach in the soup until it’s cooked the way you like it.  The nice thing about the bread is that it holds the egg in place, so it doesn’t spread around as much.

And that’s it!  Serve and eat and marvel at the delicious simplicity!

Poached eggs, man.  They make anything into a complete meal.  It’s the best.


One thought on “First Classes + Sopa de Ajo

  1. I too have heard of Sopa de Ajo but have never had it or tried to make it. After your tantalizing pictures and description of the process, I can’t wait to try it! We still have some of that good Chicken Stock from Costco, and yay for Marshalls for pimenton! Gotta love that awesome spatula you bought in Atlanta when y’all visited the Uncles! So festive and it matches the aforementioned charming tiny blue pot. 🙂 love you, y muchos besitos!

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