Juliana Cuneo: Vuelta España 2022

Photograph taken by Jeanine Prado/ CC by 4.0

Introduction

Traveling to Spain to explore and examine how the Americas prevailed in Spain versus noticing the ways that Spain showed up back at what I call home, Miami, was the aim of this course. However,  as the three weeks passed by so much more came out of this study abroad trip besides noticing the features of commonality and/or distinction. This project provides us as students and now more culturally aware individuals the opportunity to develop our ideas and thoughts into a concrete written time capsule that highlights the perspectives that were most important to us. 

I am a 20-year-old Cuban and Peruvian-American who is deeply aware of her roots that were previously established in Europe. Stories of my ancestors that started our origins in the Northern and Southern parts of Spain. Seen in my own family, the division of physical features presented in my mother who is a tan-skinned, shorter, and dark-haired woman symbolizes the Southern part of Spain that has blends and influence from Northern Africa (Morocco). Versus a stark contrast where her brother is blonde with blue eyes and a tall man paralleling Northern Spain. Within family units, one can examine the mixing of cultures, religions, and visual characteristics. One of the first series of paintings that caught my attention was in the Museum of the Americas. It showed families that were of different socioeconomic status and skin color inhabiting the same space. I stood there in front of these paintings for a moment longer feeling represented. Maybe it was not me who felt represented. Maybe it was for my own mother who in the Americas was not perfectly represented. This set of paintings to many could have just been another standpoint of an artist showing how diversity can be shown within one household, but for others, it transcends a powerful story. That is what Spain projected to me. Immersing into what is the country showed that the lens by which you see a nation, its people, and society massively alters the power and influence of its story. 

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Structure

The format of this project is chronological commencing in the location of Madrid to Sevilla and then finally Barcelona, with multiple day trips in between that will be mentioned. I have decided to look at aspects of locations that were most significant to my personal experience and centralize on a certain theme for each place. Choosing one sole theme to cover all the places we visited would feel unjust and a disservice to the journey because mentally my brain went in many directions.

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Escapism: El Retiro Park, Madrid

Escapism is defined as the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking in entertainment or fantasy (Oxford Languages).  It is a method to divert life from daily doings that are not enjoyable and is psychologically seen as a way to push feelings of the self that are not positive. Escapism is personable. How did escapism manifest itself in this area? For one, the practice of escapism occurs everywhere. An individual overloaded with work and goes outside for a run to breathe or a teenager opting for drug use to stray away from feelings of anxiety and depression. Someone wanting to escape from reality does not have to have a bad connotation though in some cases it does when the individual seeks to constantly divert from reality instead of changing their reality to their liking. 

Strolling through El Retiro I came to the realization that many people went there for their escapism. People went to read on the grass and transport to another era or setting. Groups united to partake in the peaceful practice of meditation and yoga, even sightings of people doing this in solitude. Musicians around the park playing on accordion and saxophone Bella Ciao, an Italian song featured in the Netflix show, “La Casa de Papel”. Teenagers gathered to play frisbee and have picnics together. All of this is done without one vital object, a phone. The lack of presence of the addictive, nerve-inducing device. Escapism in Spain was not solely from the fast-paced nature of a big city, but from technology as well. People were able to mentally and physically detach themselves from their phones when they entered the invitational space of El Retiro. They were completely immersed in the beauty of their doings and surroundings. This conclusion I gathered from frequently stopping at the park. While the phrase “living in the moment” may be overused it perfectly encapsulated the energy of this place. It was as if you entered a portal to escapism that allowed you to fully be present and rid of your worries instead of allowing your screen time to consume your escapism time.

Simultaneously, the practice of siesta, an afternoon nap, has been implemented into the Spaniard schedule where restaurants close and streets get emptier as the peak point of heat arrives. This practice initially started in Ancient Rome but is now adopted by other European countries as a way of rest.  The notion that people are provided with a resting point during the day would not be seen in the United States where it is a strict work is life mentality and little to no breaks are given. It was a breath of fresh air and a warm feeling to see that escapism is not only self-imposed but externally too by the culture. 

Museo Nacional del Prado serves tourists, artists, professors, and students as a distraction from the atmosphere of central Madrid. Providing the means to transport. Diego Velazquez’s painting of Las Meninas from the mid-17th century, The Annunciation by Fra Angelico from the early 15th century, and The Descent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden from the 15th century. All calling viewers to stop for a moment in time to pause and think instead of glance and continue. Most of the time people glance and continue in life instead of stopping to truly ponder and see where it takes the mind and soul. Placing into question how this painting can reflect my own life? Or, why did the artist do this, was it done deliberately or am I placing more emphasis on this one aspect for a reason? Questions that feed off the natural pattern of the routine of life are the most impactful. Museums do this to people. They strike the power to make others dream more and evade reality like with the movement of Surrealism. 

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Division and Erasure: Cordoba, Toledo, El Gotíc

Unfortunately, division must not go unnoticed but often is. People become divided because of the color of their skin or their religious views. Cordoba revealed an aspect of religious division that was blatantly obvious to me as a story of  The Great Mosque of Cordoba (also known as, The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba) was told to us by our tour guide. It is currently used as a church but holds status as a former Islamic Mosque that was converted by the Catholic Church during the Reconquista in the 13th century. Claimed by the church and the tour guides that the Muslim community in Cordoba is grateful to the Catholic church for preserving the features of the Mosque and maintaining the authenticity of the architecture. However, walking around all I could feel was a sense of guilt as a fellow Catholic. I felt ashamed, disgusted, and sorry. Why did I feel this way? All these emotions rushed in knowing that the Catholic Church at the time might have helped preserve a religion with their power, but once all was fine never allowed Muslims to have their place of worship again. Muslims will be and have been stopped by security guards if they try to pray at the mihrab, a niche in the wall pointing towards Mecca. It angers me that this is covered up by saying that the Islamic community is happy with what happened when for the past decade there has been a movement for Muslims to be able to worship alongside Christians. An imposed separation like this has brainwashed the Spaniard people to believe that it was okay. This is not the only mosque that was turned into a Cathedral because holy sites originally used to practice another religion were converted by the Catholic church throughout history in Spain. 

In Toledo, the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca stands as one of the oldest synagogues in all of Europe that remains intact. To the Jewish community, it is an emblem of their identity in Toledo and of their Jewish heritage that has been around for centuries. The monument is peaceful and serene. However, once again we see the conversion of a religious monument into a church during the 12th century. It is outrageous to assume that the Catholic Church has enough churches? To them there will never be enough. The spreading of the Catholic faith is never ending and by converting mosques, temples, and synagogues into Cathedrals they continue to gain power, but at the expense of diminishing and washing away other religious communities in Spain. 

An unfortunate discovery when exploring on my own independent time in el Barri Gotíc was the elimination of an Ancient Synagogue that was believed to have been present in the Jewish Quarter of El Call. Looking around the quarter we were told of the presence of the Jewish Quarter based on signs written on buildings and after searching on the internet. Despite what had been said about visiting the synagogue we were disappointed when we arrived at the coordinates and confusion settled as there was no synagogue to be found. Stores, restaurants, and apartments covered every inch of the area but no house of worship for the Jewish. Leaving the point of the supposed synagogue we were caught behind a school group with a professor who pointed at a sign saying that the synagogue used to be there, but that the property was sold almost 3 decades ago. This repetition of history being slowly erased for all those besides Catholics was disheartening to see in Spain. 

Intimacy and Passion

Intimacy and Passion were scaled at another level. In the Americas the displacement of intimacy is sub par and frowned upon to a certain degree. Gathering information on the way that people interact daily with their friends and partners over the course of three weeks. The conclusion that the outward expression of public affection is accepted and rather normalized was finalized. The norm of PDA initially caught me off guard as it is something that usually catches the eye in the U.S.A. and would typically make me uncomfortable. Where did these emotions of discomfort arise from around people displaying affection towards one another? Should it not be something that signifies love and beauty surrounding human connection? Physical intimacy in a safe space should be cherished and celebrated not punished and shamed for. The casual viewing of PDA rewired my thinking into not believing that affection should be in private. However this does not answer the question as to why in Europe PDA is more common than in American culture. Do they have a different perspective on displaying your love towards another person to the rest of the world? Their public environments have become more progressive with all types of couples showing affection; whereas, in the US we continue to remain more conservitive with what and where we deem it appropriate to show. For many tourists it can be a cultural shock to see a couple making out next to you in the park or a couple fully infatuated and cuddling one another at a restaurant. With intimacy comes passion in how invested the individual is in making their partner feel how passionate they are about showing their love. 

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What exactly does passion mean? Joan Fontcuberta created a photo mosaic by arranging images submitted by the public in the form of two lips in the exchange of a moment of a passionate kiss. Located in Barcelona, coined by the name of  “The World Begins with Every Kiss” represents the passion people have for life and what makes them feel absolutely free. Passion drives people like Antoní Gaudi to create wonderful masterpieces like La Sagrada familia and the stained glass windows in fiery red and orange. Passion serves as a fuel for many people. That is how all of history was created from groups of people coming together for a movement to serve themselves or a higher power like God to create wonders on Earth. 

Final Reflection

What was learned over the extended period of traveling with a group in Spain cannot be gained from a textbook. It was through in person navigating the country, getting lost and talking with locals that new personal discoveries, perspectives, connections and knowledge were secured. Spain activated a side of life that I did not know was capable of being shown within my own life. The history written within every wall of each city was impeccable. And, finally the stories told to me and the ones I carry are the most powerful tool. 





Reference

“Escapism English Definition and Meaning.” Lexico Dictionaries | English, Lexico Dictionaries, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/escapism. 

Juliana Cuneo: España as Text 2022

Photograph taken by Juliana Cuneo/ CC by 4.0

Juliana M. Cuneo is a Junior at Florida International University, majoring in Psychology and the possibilities of obtaining a minor in Social Work. With a passion for landscape and floral photography, working with people, traveling and indoor rock climbing, Juliana aspires to work in a field that centers around helping children through the use of their creativity and activities to improve their well-being. In traveling, Juliana has gained distinct cultural perspectives and through various Special Education courses gained a deeper appreciation and empathy for young kids and adolescents that seek help in their life. She has great desire to make change for all those who have not been in a community that has been supportive of them and is eager too, one step at a time, spread optimism through her actions.

Madrid as Text 2022

Photos taken by John W. Bailey /CC by 4.0

“Commercialism on the Streets”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at El Rastro, 12 June 2022

El Rastro de Madrid cuts right through la Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores standing as one of the largest traditional flea markets in Madrid. How did the name “Rastro”, translating in English to “the trail”, come about? An unpleasant tail, yet a true one. Years ago animals were slaughtered at a slaughterhouse in the area and taken on wagons through the street leaving a trail of blood. Madrid’s earliest dated map called the Plano de Witt which appeared in the 1600s depicted the location and name of El Rastro. Dating til now becoming one of the most popular places to be at on a Sunday near the center of Madrid with your friends and family to see what knick knack appear under the rumble of tangible trinkets.

Photos taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

The experience of purchasing goods at a flea market like El Rastro is incomparable to that of a commercial center or a mall. What can be found at each vendor’s section can vary from antique pendants, religious ornaments, anime posters, old film cameras, classic chinaware and so much more. Evenso, remarkably embodying the endless mindset. When a person feels that it has come to an end,  they are met head front with the opportunity that there is even more to discover. One could not get enough of what was to be encountered as you would walk into each tent and realize how economically affordable everything was in comparison to our normal routine of going to a mall. A scenario that exemplified how cheap the vendors were was when we were able to purchase three abanicos (hand fans), a shot glass, three coasters, three little coin purses, and a small hand mirror for 15 euros total. I was in complete shock as I strolled up the main street and came across the low prices. Prices that would never be seen for the same quality in a brand name store. For the same products they are being sold on a profit-oriented strategy in those stores, whereas that approach is not being utilized in the flea market to the exact degree. 

Photo taken by Elsa Chung /CC by 4.0

The exchange between the customer and the vendor is the essence of this experience. The ability to learn the story behind a clothing piece or a medallion from the Soviet Union instead of purchasing it online or in-store with no context morphs the meaning of the item. It becomes increasingly valuable and memorable to the owner. The atmosphere that occupied the space was welcoming and invitational. Sellers are joyous to learn about where you are from and hear your story as well that gives meaning to them about why you are intrigued in buying. The encounter becomes ten times more intimate. You are also given the freedom to explore the concept of negotiation with areas of the market that cannot be explored in highly commercial areas that have a set price. But, while negotiation is available that does not mean it should be abused. Because while the person does not want to pay overboard, neither does the vendor want to not make profit. 

Becoming further acquainted with Spaniard locals is what being abroad consists of. Not remaining confined to one’s own perspectives, people, and stories but allowing for that exchange of information alongside the shopping experience to unravel. The environment of El Rastro fertilizes a community to be strengthened. 

 

Toledo as Text 2022

Photo taken by John W. Bailly /CC by 4.0

“Taken Back to Medieval Times”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Toledo, 15 June 2022

     Acquainted with the utmost amount of love from two women of Toledo on the balcony of Calle Hombre de Palo. Setting up a floral tapestry the day prior to Corpus Christi ensuring that this one singular tapestry was perfectly aligned. Each safety pin adjusted to meet their level of perfection. An exchange of words was communicated as I complimented their work and was then asked if I was from Las Canarias. This conversation amounted to a meaningful experience of connecting with a local and being told if I was Spaniard. From a Spaniard being told that you have a Spaniard accent equated to “making it” with my progression of Spanish as a second language. These two precious souls had no idea the weight of their words. Embodying a familiar essence that was similar in character to Cuban origins in mannerisms and words.

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Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

 One walked down the steps of the apartment building to tell of how there would be a parade happening later that evening that would commence from the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo and continue through the streets. Featuring a mythological creature called the Tarasca that adopted the form of a green dragon; including, a small spinning doll that represents the second wife of King Henry VII,  Anne Bolyn. Spaniards deeply dislike this wife for her acts of committing treason, leading to her eventual beheading. This short timed interaction where she highly encouraged my attendance to this parade will not be forgotten. Without her informative spirit the following experience would not have been made plausible.

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

 Rushing to the principle street directed adjacent of the Catedral stood hundreds of locals making way for the parade to start. Excitement bubbling inside. Sentiments of great appreciation to be at the forefront of this monumental event. Musicians playing beats that made the human physique move alongside at the touch of each instrument. Setting the atmosphere with the sounds of beautiful instrumental melodies that ignited the soul. As the procession started, gigantones (above average human figures) walked and danced behind the musicians. Watching history pass right in front of our eyes was mesmerizing. Transported to medieval times with visuals and sounds down the cobblestone pathway. My entire world shifted in that moment as I was able to walk behind the musicians myself in this parade and become part of the community with the locals, us standing as the only tourists. 

     Cordoba as Text 2022

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

“Religious Architecture Conversion: Approved or Disapproved?”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Córdoba , 18 June 2022

The Mosque of Cordoba currently resonates as a Cathedral in the city of Cordoba, region of Andalusia. How is that plausible when Mosque is in the title? How is it a cathedral? A juxtaposition in itself. The Great Mosque of Cordoba is also interchangeably referred to as Mezquita-Catedral where there is a meeting of two religious entities, Islam and Christianity. A practicing catholic church, yet its roots are of Islamic faith. As we entered the site with the tour guide I was astonished by the arches that hovered above us that never once before had I been met with such beauty of that kind. Accustomed to stained glass windows and ornamented walls with Saints and the Virgin Mary. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

An experience that made me question how my fellow classmates who were Muslim feel about the place that we step foot in. Were they met with a sensation of uttermost respect or did they feel bad for being in a place that preserved the name Mosque and its facade but disapproved of any practicing of Islam. The tour guide had mentioned multiple times that the small Muslim community that was left in Cordoba was grateful for the fact that there was a conversion of the mosque into a church in 1236. Because, the mosque was going to be destroyed because any muslim dominated site was being destroyed so the Catholic Church took over with their power and preserved the Mosque. However, my issue lies in that at the time of conversion there seemed to be pure intentions by converting in order to preserve; but, why do they not allow Muslims to currently practice there?

At the end of the tour, I stepped up to the guide and asked:

Do you really believe that the Muslim community is grateful to the Catholic Church for changing it into a Cathedral?

To which she replied:

Yes, I have multiple friends that are Muslim who explain to me that they feel proud to have a site preserved that emblems their fath and have it not destroyed, even at the cost of not being able to kneel down and practice.


Sevilla as Text 2022

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

“Historical figures buried at our footstep”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Sevilla , 19 June 2022

Christopher Columbus. Cristóbal Colón. The weight that this one name holds. This historical figure whose narrative was ingrained in the United States educational system, not a soul being unaware of who he is. The whole debate continues to this day to whether or not he was a hero. Also, varying based on who you ask and from what generation they are from because that can highly skew the perspective they have on this man. Factually, he was an Italian navigator that was born in the mid 1400s and passed away right away at the start of the 1500s. He also did in fact add to the exploration of the world and the colonization of the New World. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

After all that I had learned about him for years nothing seemed more immensely powerful than having him in the same room as me. His body. The carcass remains that were DNA approved to be housed in a tomb in the Catedral de Sevilla. I could not process the notion and vivid experience of standing next to a figure that has been written in thousands of textbooks. Peers believing that it could not be real that the remains of Mr. Christopher Columbus was several footsteps from us. Truly insane to process it to the fullest extent that something like that could be possible.

How someone so heavily researched could be inhabiting the same room as us? I continue to want to explore other famous sites that are inhabited by historical figures that while personally may not have the created significance, but intellectually hold a great deal of depth.

Barcelona as Text 2022

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Palau de la Musica, 24 June 2022

Palau de la Musica Catalana. A music hall that features the Modernisme style. An architectural style that moves away from the prominently seen Roman, Mudejar, and Gothic style that was visited in other cities like Madrid and Sevilla. A movement created in Europe that exemplified the Catalan identity in the 20th century featuring artists like Antoni Gaudi and Lluis Domench that attempted to steer away from past or recurring art styles as a medium to change the present society.

What captured the interest of visitors, like me, to the Modernisme style presented by the palace/venue? The invitational sense tied to the entrance of the concert hall and the beautiful colors were welcoming and a breath of fresh air in comparison to many of the famous cathedrals and historically significant buildings spread throughout Spain. Not to claim that the gothic cathedrals were not extraordinarily impressive, they were; however, something touched the heart with the liveliness, colorful, and nature aspect of Modernisme. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

The central stained glass piece ornamented by the sun allowed for natural light to be the essential element to interact with the interior space of the concert auditorium of the Palau de la Musica. Stained glass to this degree of color can be viewed at the Sagrada Familia on the sides of the cathedral where an intense pour of color spreads highlighting an immense amount of contrast. Personally, stained glass should be an element of architecture that should be implemented in the majority of interior architectural spaces to add the motif of light and expanding space instead of the feeling of confinement, limitation, and darkness. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0


The attention to detail to appeal to the outdoors with rose and sun flowers represented on the mosaics and columns. There is an experience where music and nature mesh creating a journey for the audience to experience. The organ made deep sounds in what was considered a small space for a hall at the time. This building was able to capture so much beauty with a low budget when compared to other structures whose expenses were incomparable. Modernisme set in stone a movement that added color to la vida. A moment for artists to stray in a different direction and learn materials that could be utilized at a low cost.

Sitges as Text 2022

Across the Atlantic Ocean, setting sail from the Deering Estate in South Florida to Charles Deering home in the coastal town of Sitges, Spain. Visiting a home of his in Miami to visiting a home of his in Europe, both after he no longer resides in them, but still maintaining historical aspects that can be noted by paintings and artistry kept. Initially, the building was a private hospital/residency that was converted into a mansion by the engineer and artist Miquel Utrillo. 

The upper level of the newly made house and Maricel museum, separated by a thin cobblestone road, featured blue tiles to represent what was right across, the ocean and its waves. The views from the rooftop were stunning as in every direction you viewed beauty – mountains and the sea.

A small detail, but one of notice. On a white column at the top stood a vertical section that featured Christopher Columbus on one side and Native Americans from what is now named the United States of America. What details are chosen to be placed around a house commissioned by Mr. Deering and why? Are they deliberately done in order to demonstrate their knowledge of history or their perspectives on the narratives of events?

Charles Deering wanted this house also to store all the artworks he had collected that included three small works by Picasso and paintings by Goya. Also, gothic altar pieces and sculptures that demonstrated the Catholic church with religion. A private home like this one in Sitges in the location near the water placed a mark on social standing of having wealth. This one home holds much significance in the beauty of the architectural style of maintaining white color to flow with the rest of the Sitges area and ceramic bricks; and, holding a collection of Hispanic works.

Juliana Cuneo: Ida España 2022

Spain’s Influence on Culinary of the Americas

Image retrieved from Irish Times // CC by 4.0

Overview

Food is the ultimate embodiment of people’s connection to a culture. It has the capacity to enable humans to feel a sense of familiarity and commonality with a community. Aside from the shared common knowledge that food is necessary to remain alive and physically healthy, food has a way of paving a way through hearts and souls. For centuries it has been used as a means of showing one’s care towards another person through the process of cooking a tender meal or a form of communication towards a group of people with a distinct culture. Above that at all, there are historical implications within the food that is consumed in the Americas that indicates the origin of ingredients back to the land of Spain. Central America, South America, and the Caribbean overtime were influenced by the food of Spain; modernizing to a fusion of American native/indigenous ingredients and European foods and cooking techniques. A notable change was seen in the types of food consumed from pre-colonization to post-colonization; Native America progressed and developed in the food realm at the cost of the spread of diseases and abuse/exploitation of their population. The Spaniards bringing new culinary elements to the Americas was brought at an expense of many travesties; however, resulting in the arisal of many staple plates and foods like pork, sugar cane, and cow (Spanish Discovery of the New World).

Spanish Discovery of New World

Spain, under the rulership of the Catholic Monarch Queen Isabella and King Ferdinad, was able to commence voyages to start the Spanish colonization of the Americas with Christopher Columbus and Spanish conquistadors. Their goal was to expand territory and receive monetary gains through the extraction of resources from the New World, as well as the expansion of Catholicism. The journey from Spain to the Americas was not a short nor easy one when dating back to the 15th and 16th century. It happened across decades where Spaniards interfered with the native people and land. 

Expansion was known for the three G’s: Gold, Glory, and God. There was news that in the Americas there was gold which signified material wealth that could be brought back to Europe (“Christoper Columbus”). For glory this was attained through conquering new land which brought power and honor to their name. And finally, God, efforts were pushed towards expanding Christianity by converting the native people from their native religion or spirituality towards the belief in Christ.

Christopher Columbus was not Spaniard himself, he was an Italian explorer and navigator that was licensed to lead four expeditions to the Americas in 1492 that evolved into the Spanish Empire becoming one of the wealthiest. This was due to the abundance of new resources brought back overseas (Christopher Columbus Italian Explorer).

Christopher Columbus was not Spaniard himself, he was an Italian explorer and navigator that was licensed to lead four expeditions to the Americas in 1492 that evolved into the Spanish Empire becoming one of the wealthiest. This was due to the abundance of new resources brought back overseas (Christopher Columbus Italian Explorer).

Posthumous portrait of Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519.

However, for the New World environment they suffered great devastation as on the ships with the explorers they brought famine and diseases never before seen on American soil. The human condition was not prepared. Immune systems were not equipped for smallpox, measles, influenza, nor the bubonic plague (Rosenwald). Medicine at the time was not as modernized as it is in the 21st century because the people of the Americas had never been exposed to European sicknesses.. The likelihood of an individual surviving at the time after catching one of these illnesses was highly unlikely. Native Americans had to develop medicines and natural cures after Europeans had settled in the Americas.Needing to become accustomed to cohabiting a space with these new diseases. There were sudden changes that were being implemented into what Europeans claimed as an “uncivilized society” without the approval or want on the ends of the natives.

Introduction of Resources

The introduction of tangible consumable resources did serve the native people to benefit. Prior to the movement of domesticated animals from Europe to the Americas many native people had diets that consisted of low protein levels. The introduction of new animal source protein allowed the people to expand the menu of what they consumed. What was brought to the region of the New World, included: cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and chicken. The morphing of the European diet into America’s diet was a huge shift. It presented a lifestyle change that was necessary for the Europeans because their diet back home was very distinct (Colonization, Food, and the Practice of Eating). They brought their diet to the Americas and many of the natives ended up adopting many of the similar eating habits. They were accustomed to eating The implementation of these new meats fast forwarded to modern times presents itself in the majority of Latin American dishes. For many Hispanic cultures a full meal is not considered “full” without the meat portion. Especially in South Florida where there is a big residential population of Caribbean and South/Central American immigrants, many can relate to that idea that a full plate is associated with either chicken, cow, or pork. 

The Americas in the late 1400s had animals of their own but were labeled as unacceptable to be consumed and used for work by the Europeans. This consideration for the lack of proper animals when the condition of the land and water permitted for sparked the approval of importing domesticated animals. Decades passed and the farm animals’ existence in the Americas flourished rapidly. Numbers multiplied at rapid rates due to the increasing speed of the reproduction of healthy animals. Because there was a huge accessibility of consumable meats in the Americas it was fairly cheap in comparison to Spain where meats were considered to be more of a luxury because of the slimmer availability. The increase of meat consumption also lead to the consumption of more dairy products; a direct result of. 

Meat is not the only aspect of food that was brought from Spain to the Americas. There were several ingredients that were not present in the Americas and had to be brought from Spain because they were not originally produced on New World soil.  Wheat, rice, sugar cane, citrus fruits, olive oil, and cinnamon were some of the few things that migrated overseas.

Wheat especially was significant because it exposed the start of the development of more bread in the Americas. For Spaniards it was very typical to see a sighting of a civilian sipping on a cup of wine while dipping a piece of bread in olive oil. For Europeans bread was an essential part of their diet thus showing the significance of it being brought to the Americas. Wheat was not originally found in this land, but after years of colonization wheat was commonly grown. The dynamic of the early colonial spanish america diet combined elements of indegenous and european cuisine as decades passed they began to mix. The border of what was from the Americas versus what was influenced by Spain became blurry. In conversations now people battle over what is native to their land or home to the territory of Spain. 

Mexico

Image taken by Evgeniya Vlasova// CC by 4.0

In Mexico for instance there is a heavy use of olives and olive oil which is directly dated back to the Spaniards in 1531. Fray Martín de Valencia brought over to Mexico an olive tree from Seville, Spain to expand the production of olives outside of Spain. Olives in Mexican food have created some controversy as experts will claim that if olives are introduced into the plate then it is no longer Mexican, but Spaniard. There was actually a time in the mid 1500s when olives became forbidden by the Spanish government, possibly signaling while the Mexians began to adopt the usage of the olive more than the Spaniards at the time. Especially important to signal that what was brought from Spain to Mexico was the green olive not the black olive. And, is traditionally used as a snack not to be implemented in tacos or other wrapped foods. Just to justify the major role that olives had in the history and lifestyle culture for Mexicans they added it to the national anthem: Let gird, oh Fatherland!, your brow with olive…(The Olive Tree Arrives in Mexico).It exemplifies how a small food item can have an extreme impact on a land where the people decided to put it in an anthem that represents their nation, even though the small fruit is of Spanish origin.

Cheese, the most popular dairy product in Mexico, was because of the Spanish conquest. La Conquista Española in the 16th century introduced the cheese making process because prior to colonization there was no cattle to produce milk for the dairy product. “The introduction of dairying and ranching” was innovative and impactful on Mexican cuisine; shockingly placing Mexico on the map for one of the largest consumers of cheese world wide (World Cheese Culture: Mexico). Many dishes like nachos, quesadilla, and tacos have types of cheeses in them. 

Astonishingly, empanadas are derived from Spain. To be precise, Galicia, Spain. There was a cookbook dating back to the 1500s in Catalan that demonstrated how the empanada was prepared as a large pie that was cut into. Filled typically with a source of protein to be eaten by workers that were traveling and wanted a hardy meal. Empanadas made their way to Latin America as there were people immigrating from Spain to South America. The preparation appears to be quite different in South American countries as they can be filled with cheese or ground beef or be baked or fried. Elements of the original design of the Spaniard empanada have been changed to fit the cuisine and tastes of the people of varying Latin countries.

Image taken by Kevin Miyazaki// CC by 4.0

Without mentioning tapas one might as well not mention Spanish cuisine. Tapas are small plates of food that are meant to be eaten as snacks accompanied by a drink at a bar. This can be translated to a smaller version of appetizers as appetizers contain a larger portion. Tapas have influenced luxury, expensive restaurant chefs into creating small plates that are more elaborate than traditional tapas.

Cooking Technique

Olive oil being that essential cooking ingredient in Spain kitchens was brought over to the Americas. Olive oil was utilized as the main ingredient for the process of frying that was commonly used for croquetas and friend potatoes in Spain. It is a process in which you allow the hot oil to reach extreme temperature and then place the food to be cooked in the oil. This cooking method of frying has been adopted by many Latin American countries and the lack of using other cooking methods like baking or broiling for foods other than desserts or pastries. Venezuelans, Columbians, and Cubans are known to fry many of their pastries; the majority of foods in local bakeries are fried to perfection. Frying food with olive oil is essential to Spaniard cuisine and has influenced Americas cuisine to parallel that practice. 

Fortunately, for Spanish settlers the Americas was a great point of interest to establish food practices from Europe because the land was rich and fertile to produce fruits and vegetables in large quantities. The Spanish were met with an abundance of land and were able to influence the natives with ingredients and condiments to add to their diet at the exchange of the Spanish learning from them too. Modernized Spanish plates have made their way to the Americas in modern society because of their overall tasteful appeal that captivates chefs to add to their pallet. They are an inspiration and have been an inspiration in the area of food because of the benefits that protein has on the health of civilians and the flavorful nature of traditional dishes. 

None can deny that food is impressingly one of the most discussed topics among people. Understanding the context of where the food that one is consuming is coming from can be interesting as it makes one appreciate the lengths at which food ultimately transformed peoples health and culture. Spain was the origin story and reference point for much of what we consume today; especially, if you inhabit a Spanish speaking focused environment that has its culinary roots grounded in Spain. 

References

“Spanish Discovery of the New World.” Digital History, 2021, https://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/active_learning/explorations/spain/spain_menu.cfm#:~:text=New%20foods%20reshaped%20the%20diets,and%20almonds%20to%20the%20Americas. 

Rosenwald, Michael S. “Columbus Brought Measles to the New World. It Was a Disaster for Native Americans.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 6 May 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/05/05/columbus-brought-measles-new-world-it-was-disaster-native-americans/. 

History.com Editors. “Christopher Columbus.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/exploration/christopher-columbus#:~:text=The%20explorer%20Christopher%20Columbus%20made,he%20stumbled%20upon%20the%20Americas.  

“Christopher Columbus Italian Explorer.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/biography/Christopher-Columbus. 

“Colonization, Food, and the Practice of Eating.” Food Empowerment Project, https://foodispower.org/our-food-choices/colonization-food-and-the-practice-of-eating/. 

“Home.” The Olives Gift, http://www.theolivesgift.com/the-olive-tree-in-mexico/. 

Farrar, Molly, and Molly FarrarMolly is a web editorial intern who hails from Virginia. “World Cheese Culture: Mexico.” Culture, 5 May 2015, https://culturecheesemag.com/blog/world-cheese-culture-mexico/. 

Juliana Cuneo: Miami as Text 2022

Photograph taken by Julie Ricardo/ CC by 4.0

Juliana M. Cuneo is a Junior at Florida International University, majoring in Psychology and the possibilities of obtaining a minor in Social Work. With a passion for landscape and floral photography, working with people, traveling and indoor rock climbing, Juliana aspires to work in a field that centers around helping children through the use of their creativity and activities to improve their well-being. In traveling, Juliana has gained distinct cultural perspectives and through various Special Education courses gained a deeper appreciation and empathy for young kids and adolescents that seek help in their life. She has great desire to make change for all those who have not been in a community that has been supportive of them and is eager too, one step at a time, spread optimism through her actions.

Deering as Text

“Roots Are of Matter”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Deering Estates, 28 January 2022

Walking through Deering Estates in the mid-day one becomes acquainted with both beautiful architecture and the smells of South Florida nature. As someone who grew up around the Cutler Bay area, raised by my Spanish grandparents there. I had always heard of The Charles Deering Estates, but had never come to know or understand what was the Deering Estates. Until the hike.

Fancy ornaments decorate the walls, chandeliers hang from the ceilings, reflections from mirrors, porcelain vases, and intricate rugs. All these features collectively culminate an essence of high status/class to some degree. Especially, considering how the elements have remained intact to tell a story to all those that visit the Richmond Cottage and Stone House. How has its history morphed over time? Do some who come to visit the Estate view it as a time capsule for South Florida nature management and prosperous historical legacy? While others see it as an emblem for our blatant ignorance of creating a Slave community and removing the tribes from their native land for settlers convenience? The roots of Miami are essential.

Photos taken by Daniela Canizares /CC by 4.0

One cannot deny the architecture’s splendid facade and interior. The site captures the diversity of this region and does not fail in showing the precious coastal, mangrove ecosystem that those of care intensely preserve and manage. Prior to humankind, there was just land. Then, dating back to 10,000 years there were Native Americans that roamed the grounds forming communities. As I was told the atrocities of what had occurred my vision switched and goosebumps covered every inch of my arms. I could no longer admire the acclaimed, surface-level beauty. I felt this sense of embarrassment and guilt over the pain that the ancient ancestors endured at the moment I stood in front of the Tequesta Burial Mound. What a travesty, yet history at points has been used to profit off the horrid roots of creating a site like many others of Spanish influence. Because no time machine can be used to travel to the point of battle, what is important is how Deering Estate’s “About” is told and what is the connotation elicited towards the visitors of the 21st Century.

Photos taken by Elsa Chung/CC by 4.0


Vizcaya as Text 

All photos taken and edited by Juliana Cuneo/ CC BY 4.0

“Aesthetics of Blend”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 18 February 2022

Classic Miami traffic did not lack presence this morning as we headed towards Vizcaya. However, this did not hinder the quality of the experience at this Biscayne Bay estate and property. This landmark revisited the history that Miami has to offer that can go unnoticed in the suburbs and city scene. Taking the opportunity to delve into both the architectural and botanical elements of an early 1900s landmark by connecting it with the role that European countries had on the aesthetic of it allowed us to explore the ida y vuelta concept.

In Coconut Grove, yet my eyes spot Italy
	Miami Coastal Life, yet the Renaissance era slips in
	Limestone masonry guides my peripheral vision
	Perfectly crafted statues constructed by men
	Not native men as could be assumed
	Men from across the Atlantic
	A place where artistry was at its peak
	The value brought to the Americas
	An invitation awaits to be opened 
	By whom one may ponder
	The sculpturists, designers, muralists
	Brought on Biscayne soil to create the finest estate
	
	James Deering
	A businessman who established this
	A site where blend and homogeneity is present
	Intertwined by different influences 
	Original pieces
	Antiques
	Commissioned work
	All at the foot of this place for viewing

	Importation
	What would have occurred if importation was not plausible?
	How would Vizcaya aesthetically be fertile?
	Basis reliant on those of other nationality
	Masterpieces created by others
	As for many, importation was essential
	The wealthy showcased their wealth through their riches
	Vizcaya shows what can come to stance with wealth
	An estate of glory
	Ornamented bedrooms, stained glass windows, formal gardens
All photos taken and edited by Juliana Cuneo/ CC BY 4.0

Miami as Text

All photos taken and edited by Juliana Cuneo/ CC BY 4.0

“Finalmente, La Libertad”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Downtown, Miami , 11 March 2022

The Freedom Tower is much more than an architectural work influenced by the Giralda Bell Tower in Seville, Spain and Mediterranean Revival Style. For Cubans that fled the communist state of Cuba in the 1960s the Freedom Tower symbolizes a marking point of their new freedom. A freedom that enlightened tens of thousands of Cubans with a sense of hope and optimism for their new life to begin in the United States. What once began as a printing facility for a newspaper company metamorphosed into a facility to process and document those fleeing the Cuban Revolution with intentions of bringing safety upon them. Setting in motion a period of refugees entering the Miami community. A blessing for many of my own peer’s families that experienced this emotionally packed, identity mending journey.

Historical sites hold two meanings. The one that connects those who have personal relationships with the site because of their ancestors, culture, and history and view it as emblematic. Versus the second that holds a lighter value, more surface level per se because of the population of people that treat it as any other building made in Downtown. If you are not Cuban then the Tower may hold no meaning to you because there is no connection. This concept of double meaning is applicable to many other historical sites around the streets of the Miami scene in the same manner as the Gesu Church.

All photos taken and edited by Juliana Cuneo/ CC BY 4.0

The Gesu Church functions as an ongoing Catholic Church. Paralleling to the Freedom Tower for the Cubans the Gesu Church for Catholics holds sincere meaning because it signifies the religious history of Roman Catholicism in Miami. Demonstrating the power of religious expansion across seas and its ability to withstand the growing changes and developments of the surrounding city. What if we eliminated every single different type of church within the community and destroyed every historical building that held a form of importance? Protest and chaos would emerge as people throughout history have shown that they will fight for what they believe in. Whether that be for their own personal freedom, the liberty of their brothers and sisters, or their promise to God in spreading their faith. How would you feel as a Cuban Catholic living in Miami if the Freedom Tower and Catholic Church were taken away? Rather I am one step away and could ask my own mother who fled Cuba as a refugee practicing Catholicism.

SOBE as Text

All photos taken and edited by Juliana Cuneo/ CC BY 4.0

“Architecture Meets Cultural Crossroad”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at South Beach, Miami , 1 April 2022

South Beach in April does not shy from bringing the Miami heat as we walked down Ocean Drive from South Pointe Park Pier to The Betsy Orb. South Beach located in Miami, Florida not only is the host for beautiful beaches, delicious restaurants, and an extravagant party scene, but is the center of architectural landmarks. Being a native South Floridian I was completely sheltered  away from any knowledge of what was showcased by the shore, three forms of architecture: Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and MiMo (Miami Modernist Architecture). Art Deco captivated my eye for all the forms that it came in. 

How is it that the form of a ziggurat from Mesopotamia ended up in Miami? The pyramidal structure can be seen through many of the hotels where we see at the roof a stepping up style. Symmetry is also key to this type of architecture in Art Deco. The use of blue to mimic what was in front of the buildings, the ocean. Symbolic figures that parallel Egyptian culture through decorative motifs. 

One of the most enjoyable moments was becoming spotters of the different types of architecture as we called out whether a building was Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, or MiMo. From the left I would hear “That’s certainly Art Deco!” and the right “I saw that house from a movie, doesn’t it have influence from Italy”. Bringing us to the very street in Miami where we are able to meet so many styles of architecture surfaces how significant the influence that architecture has on a community. I have fallen victim to walking past all these buildings on a friendly, familiar day at the beach to never stop and question why the buildings looked the way they did and now I know.

Juliana Cuneo

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