A couple of years ago, I had no idea what Galicia was. After living with two Galician guys in an apartment while I worked as an English teacher in Spain, I am now an expert in making them very, very angry.
I know this because they always told me how angry I made them.
Galicia is basically the Scotland of Spain (Galician’s even play bagpipes or gaitas). It’s a green, rainy region in the north of Spain that is often forgotten by tourists who are scrambling for Barcelona. Galician’s will give you the side-eye if you attempt to order a glass of sangria or a plate of paella. This is not the Spain of your stereotypical dreams. This is a place made of rougher stuff, where people die trying to collect salty barnacles or percebes from slippery cliff walls, so that we may wash down the delicacies with a cheap glass of beer in a bar. The people here are not Spanish, they are first and foremost, Galician.
Galician’s are not particularly hot-blooded, but like most Spaniards they love a good argument; the louder, the better. It doesn’t take much to get yourself into a debate with a Galician, but if you’re looking to get into it right away, start off with speaking the wrong language.
Don’t know how to speak Gallego
Gallego is the dialect spoken in Galicia and it is only spoken there. Galician’s also speak Castellano (the most widely spoken dialect in Spain and what you learned in your Spanish classes), but most of them prefer to speak Gallego. They WILL speak Gallego to you, even if you have made it clear that you don’t understand it. You WILL be questioned about why you don’t know any Gallego. Say you prefer to speak Castellano and let the fireworks begin.
*Bonus points if you can’t even speak Castellano.
Forget that the best cheese, wine, and seafood in the world comes from Galicia
Galician’s are proud people and it would be a sin to ever say that the food or drink from your country or any other surpasses their own. According to my roommate, the cows are happier in Galicia, and so, the cheese and milk is better. (Someone better inform the happy cows of the Real California Milk commercials).
Most of Galicia is close to the sea, so there are many popular seafood dishes, like pulpo or steamed octopus with olive oil and red pepper, chipirones or grilled or fried squid, and mejillones or mussels. If you are not partial to seafood, feel free to say so, and then see them ignore your taste buds and hand you a large plate of briny creatures anyways.
Many countries claim to have the best wine in the world and Galicia holds its Albariño, or white wine, high up with the rest of them. It’s cheap and delicious, but the best in the world? Who knows? Wine is too good to have a favorite, but don’t let the Galician’s see you buying anything but their golden child.
*Bonus points if you accidentally buy bananas imported from the US at the grocery store instead of the ones from the Canary Islands and then your roommate tapes them to your door with threatening messages. This may or may not have happened to me.
Mention the incessant rain
This is the easiest way to bring a Galician into a state of anger where words fail them and only curse words ensue. It rains in Galicia almost year round and getting a week of straight sunshine is a rarity. I bonded with my co-worker, from the school I worked at, by bringing up the fact that it was raining (I could use this technique almost daily), during our carpooling.
“Siempre, siempre!! Esta lluvia es mierda!”
“Always, always!! This rain is shit!” he would exclaim, as I would nod knowingly.
Somehow, growing up in Galicia does not make you immune to complaining about the “shitty rain” and it seems almost cathartic for them to curse and grumble about it.
*Bonus points if you steal a Galician’s umbrella from the umbrella holder by the door of a bar, club, or restaurant. This is the equivalent of stealing someone’s (probably an American’s) gun. They no longer have protection and will feel vulnerable and upset.
Talk about how great Southern Spain is
Most of us hear the word Spain and colorful, sultry images of flamenco dancers, bullfighters, and beaches of beautiful, tanned people appear in our minds. These images are not what all of Spain is made of, but are instead the well-known southern cities of Granada and Seville. Most people travel throughout Southern Spain, Madrid, and Barcelona and forget about Galicia, which obviously nettles the Galician’s to no end. Galicia has its draws, like the world famous Islas Cies and Camino de Santiago which have brought the region notoriety, but Galician’s will immediately dislike you if you go on and on about how beautiful the South is and why Agua de Seville is your favorite drink. To combat your southern fervor, they will explain that the people in the south are lazy and the landscape dry and ugly. Point out anything to the contrary (“they seemed nice to me?”) and you’ve done it.
You’ve really pissed off a Galician.
*Bonus points if you actually move down south.