Travel Guide to Portugal

Doctor’s Prescription in Spain: More Meat, More Wine, More Fat, More Excitement

By Gabriella Opaz

I can’t even start this post without smiling, because the experience was so odd and enjoyable, the mere thought of it brings a big broad toothy grin to my face. My cat is even looking at me odd as I giggle alone, thoroughly enjoying the moment.

I’ll let you in on my little secret, I love doctors!

I didn’t use to love doctors. They scared the living crap out of me for years, as they knew me by my provider number, rather than my first name. I’ve experienced more than one occasion when a doctor has hovered over me – complete with powdery, plastic gloves – totally oblivious as to who I am. “Okay….Mssss….umm…Opaz, you can stand up and get dressed now.”

“Yeah, thanks buddy. Last I checked, my parents were sweet enough to provide me with a first name that you’re welcome to use.”

Three years and counting since we’ve squatted on Spanish soil, and I haven’t found myself rushing out to get a physical. I figure that if my limbs aren’t falling off, and I’m not foaming at the mouth, I’m doing pretty well. But having turned 32 last November, I thought it wise to have a little check-see to ensure that all those internal liquids are still working up to speed.

So I made an appointment two months ago to get a physical. Called ‘una analytica’, NOT ‘una fisica’ -a mistake I’ve made on more than one occasion, I was finally able to see my doctor two weeks later.

“So what can I do for you” she says to me.

“I’d like a physical”, I respond while rolling up my sleeves assuming that my blood pressure would be the first act of the afternoon.

“Okay, well, take this piece of paper up to the receptionist and she’ll schedule you.”

A little perplexed, I unroll my sleeves back down, get up, and walk out, wondering why she shoved me out the door three minutes after I walked through it. Shuffling over to the receptionist, I handed her the paper, and was promptly given an appointment to get my blood drawn in one month’s time. A month!! The irony is that I gave blood the following day at the local Red Cross and received my results faster than I did from my local physician.

Needless to say, a month quickly passed, I gave blood, and returned for a fourth appointment to get my results.

Here’s where the fun begins.

As I walk directly into the office, a small perky nurse jumps out of her seat and shakes my hand. Sitting back down with a sweet nymph like grin on her face, her large thick glasses balancing precariously on the ridge of her nose fall to one side as she says, “Hi Gabriella (notice the first name!), I’m not your doctor but I’ll be telling you all about YOU today. Is that okay?”

“Ahhh, sure”, I respond with one eyebrow cocked upwards, a little skittish as to what Little Ms. Prozac was going to come out with next.

“Well, I’ve checked over all your charts with the doctors (how many doctors does it take to read my chart??) and they all seem to think that you are in great health. However, they do have one concern, your iron level. It appears that it’s a touch low, and so we suggest you eat some more red meat.

Red meat, eh? How often does someone get to hear that at their doctor’s appointment after spending the last few days vacuuming steaks right off the grill?

“Oh, and let’s talk drugs. Do you do any hash, ecstasy, marijuana?”

Jaw agape, eyes bulging, I look at her speechless, while the sound of crickets chirp around me. “Um, excuse me?”

“Okay, well if you do smoke marijuana, we prefer that you grow your own. Lot’s of the drugs are laced these days, and we’d rather have you smoke something pure than filled with harmful chemicals. Also, no tobacco. Smoke pot, but please avoid tobacco.”

WHAT?????? Grow my own? Where am I? Oh yeah, I’m in Spain! The land of the siesta, cerveza and two plant maximum per person by law.

“Other drugs, such as alcohol?”

“Well, I do own a wine company, so yes, I do drink a fair amount.”

“What are we talking about? One glass, two glasses per night?”

Weighing my options on how I want to answer her, I respond, “well, typically, one per day, but sometimes a bit more.”

“Okay, dear, well let’s say you have 2 glasses at 6 ounces per glass. That gives you about 14 glasses per week, which is well under what you allotted amount. So if you want to drink more, please do so. For a woman of your size, we suggest 17 glasses as normal.”

This is where my grin starts sneaking up on me and hasn’t gone away since, as this woman just told me to eat more red meat, smoke more pot and drink more wine. Even the USDA suggests I par down to 5 oz per day as a normal serving, but 3x that amount! I’d have to work at it to reach the Spanish level, and irony is that Spaniards don’t drink. I’ve rarely run into Spanish woman who partakes in more than a glass of wine on the weekend, not even talking about the week filled with water as the main staple.

Oh, and ‘guapa’ (Spanish version of ‘honey’) your blood pressure is a bit too low, so you may want to consider gaining a kilo or two as you’re a little petite.

At the rate this woman was going, I was fully prepared for her to tell me that my ass was too tight, my breasts were too big, and I ought to increase the stress of my life just to increase my blood pressure.

“You know that low blood pressure can lead to fainting spells. So maybe let’s get some more excitement in your life…”

Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that running your own business in a foreign country, while learning their customs, language and laws wasn’t stressful enough. I’ll be sure to hype that up a bit by getting pregnant with triplets just to increase my ‘excitement’ level.

Walking out of the office into the blaring hot Spanish sun, I felt strange like the kid who was told to eat a bucket full of ice cream, a box of juju bees and a gallon of coke, all while jumping up on down on your parent’s bed with your muddy shoes on. I felt guilty that I didn’t want to down a few bottles of wine with a thick, raw sirloin, a large slice of brie and a bowl of chocolate truffles, ending in smokey haze from my enormous joint; craving only a plate of grilled vegetables, a slice of melon and a glass of sherry.

And despite the fact that her news didn’t send me dancing freely in the streets, she did place a permanent smile on my face that hasn’t left me ever since; which I will promptly follow up with a glass of Vinho Verde red and a long stroll in the park.

Cheers to Your Health 😉


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Since 2005, Catavino has been exploring the Iberian Peninsula
looking for the very best food and wine experiences.

Since 2005, Catavino has been exploring the Iberian Peninsula looking for the very best food and wine experiences.

Catavino is the best place to learn about travel, food
and wine in Portugal and Spain.