Tea, Nuts and Other Tricky Words in Spanish

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Do you know the difference between nueces and frutos secos? Have you ever seen the difference between a tea and, for example, a camomile tea on a cafeteria menu? Do you know what you are ordering if you order a sandwich in Spain? If you want to resolve all these questions and avoid surprises at mealtime on your trips around our country, it’s time to read this post.

vs. infusiones

¿Té o infusión? Esa es la cuestión. 

Infusiones are drinks made with hot water + a plant or herb. So far so good, but tea is only one type of infusión in Spanish. Only if it has some part of the tea plant in it can it be called tea in Spanish. So if you want a chamomile or a mint tea, you should avoid asking for a tea in Spain. Here you have a few pictures so that you don’t forget this.

Nueces vs. frutos secos

If you go to a restaurant and ask if the chef’s cake has nuts in it, they say no and when they bring it out it is full of almonds, you shouldn’t be surprised. In Spanish, nuts are just one type of nut. Nuts are the category and walnuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, etc. are the different types. Here is a list of some of the most common ones, so you can avoid confusion while improving your Spanish vocabulary.

Let’s practise all these new words with a fun memory game.


Sopas vs. cremas and potajes

If you order a vegetable soup in a restaurant and what the waiter serves you is a plate full of ‘hot water’ and some floating vegetables, don’t be surprised. In Spanish there are 3 options: sopa, potaje and crema or puré. The sopa has more broth, and the other ingredients are in small chunks. The potaje is similar, but the proportion of broth is much lower. Finally, the crema or puré is a potaje with the ingredients mashed together.

Sándwich vs. bocadillo

In Spanish we use the English word sandwich, but in a Spanish way in the spelling sándwich and, in most cases, in the pronunciation (sángüich). However, what it means in our language is two slices of pan de molde with something in the middle (ham, cheese, chorizo, cocoa cream…). Pan de molde or pan de lata is the kind you buy in the supermarket, it is squared shape and comes already sliced in a bag.

Bocadillo, on the other hand, is a sandwich made with fresh bread, regardless of the size of the bread and whether it is just a piece of bread or the whole loaf.

A fun fact is that in Spain the bocadillos made with small loaves of bread are also called pulgas (fleas) or pulguitas (tiny fleas).

Salchichas vs. embutidos

In Spain, many different embutidos are consumed. Embutidos are minced meat, generally pork, more or less seasoned, which is placed inside a pork casing or an artificial one. Some embutidos can be eaten uncooked because they have been previously cured (chorizo, salchichón, etc.) and others need cooking before eating (salchichas, chorizos parrilleros, etc.). As you may have guessed, salchichas are only one type of embutido, so to say that chorizo or black pudding are salchichas is not correct in Spanish.

All these new words are asking for a fun way to learn them. Aren’t they? Let’s do one more memory game!

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