It is hard to believe I have already worked about 40 of my required 100 hours of my internship here in Sevilla. I work every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. I zip down to Triana, three metro stops away. I have enjoyed getting to know this neighborhood. People from Triana are a tight group. They have their own expressions; those from Triana (even more than the general trend in Sevilla) are born in Triana, grow up in Triana, go to school not far from Triana, work in Triana, and spend the rest of their life in Triana. This is the biography in short of my boss, Manolo Manosalbas. But, he has separated himself by traveling the world and operating his own business--two things that cannot be said of all people here. I admire his self-made brand; he has combined his interests in food and photography, enjoying a wonderful life in the world of Spain's gastronomy.
My first day I enjoyed breakfast with Manolo and his wife, Blanca. Blanca is from the Basque Country in the north of Spain. Although her culture is similarly close-knit, the gravitational pull of Triana moved her south. Blanca oversees the other side of the graphic design business--the non-food clients. Given the interest for gastronomy I expressed in my interview, Blanca planted me at the side of Manolo. After breakfast Manolo proceeded to introduce me to his photography books. He has designed many books for food organizations in Spain. One of the most interesting is devoted to organic food, an idea still new in Spain. It was clear that Manolo believes in and knows everything about his subject. His latest book covering recipes of a Triana tapas bar, "Macuro Tapas" (see below), has given Manolo international attention. The book was nominated among four international finalists in the "Best Local Cuisine" category of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Here is an article (in Spanish) about the nomination: http://www.ilovetapas.com/2010/12/un-libro-de-tapas-representara-a-espana-en-el-gourmand-world-cookbook-awards-en-la-categoria-best-local-cuisine-book/
I have three main roles at the office that complement each other: (1) the resource for everything English, (2) research for developing an English-speaking client base, and (3) creating an English blog for Manolo. Regarding my first role, I have translated a whole website from Spanish to English for one of Manolo's clients: Alcuza Restaurant in Sevilla (http://www.alcuza.es/). The assignment was rewarding for several reasons. First I have had to work closely with a colleague, Manuel Campos, to complete the project. Manuel is Manolo's right-hand design man. In creating an English interface for the Alcuza, I have translated and Manuel has designed. We have bonded through the project. I feel like Manuel has taken me under his wing. He loves to tell me about local culture and Sevilla's best kept secrets. An avid soccer fan, Manuel loves to talk sports, which is valuable in a place where the subject is a national obsession. Aside from that, translating menus is something I would do in my free time; here it is my internship.
Regarding my second role, I have been doing marketing research into a possible new English-speaking client base for Manolo. That means looking up food and travel magazines so Manolo can send his new English resume (translated by me) to potential new clients. The projects have been more individual, but I still benefit from the self-guided challenge. Additionally, there is quite a bit of speaking and listening practice throughout the day. Manolo requires that Manuel and I be quick on our feet. He has a vision for what he wants, so there has been some pressure on me to understand his directions and follow through. But, there is little stress and each day usually passes quickly.
My third role is designing a English blog for Manolo. He already has a Spanish blog (see link: http://gastroflash.blogspot.com/), which I then translate and organize on the sister site. The project has allowed me to follow Manolo's career and photo portfolio. He has many client restaurants in Sevilla, all of which are fun to read about. To see my progress, visit this link: http://phototapas.blogspot.com/. I had little trouble with the entries until I hit my first recipe. Learning all of the cooking verbs and kitchenware vocabulary was a challenge at first. It was a sign of things to come though. Manolo gave me a signed copy of his nominated book. Since then I have been reading a recipe each night to practice pronunciation and develop my gastronomy vocabulary. When I told Montse of my routine, she joked that it was as if I was a Catholic with my book of prayers. My religion in this case: food. "Muy sano" (very healthy), Montse responded.
The one thing I hope for in the future is the opportunity to accompany Manolo to a food photoshoot. It would be wonderful to visit a local restaurant and see (and maybe try) its best dishes as photos are taken. Manolo knows I want this and promises to tell me when one comes up on his schedule.
I have been more than content with my internship for the following reasons: (1) I practice Spanish with Manolo and Manuel, (2) I have self-guided marketing research projects, (3) I observe the management of a self-employed small business, (4) I practice a skill important to today's businesses: blogging (and how to increase blog traffic), (5) I get to learn more about Spain's culture and cuisine.
To see Manolo's website, visit: http://www.manosalbas.com/
I have also posted more of my own food photography from Montse's kitchen: