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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Chiringuito’

Here’s one of the most summer-themed Spanish words out there, so you need to add it to your vocab. 

Spanish Word of the Day: 'Chiringuito'
Apart from being the word for a beach bar, "chiringuito" has another interesting meaning in Spain. Photo: Francesc Romero/Pixabay

When Spaniards think of summer, they often picture vacaciones (holidays), sol y playa (sun and beach) and tinto de verano (red wine mixed with soda/lemonade and ice – don’t diss it until you’ve tried it). 

And the place where they’re most likely to enjoy all these placeres del verano (summer pleasures) is at a chiringuito

Un chiringuito is essentially a beach bar. 

They’re usually small establishments that serve drinks and food to beachgoers during the sweltering summer months, meaning that many don’t open for the rest of the year. 

You’ll get the more rough and ready ones, wooden huts with dried out palm leaves providing shade as the radio blasts los éxitos del verano (the summer hits), to the more refined chiringuitos that are essentially like upmarket beachside gastrobars serving up plates of sardines as if they were haute cuisine. 

The word chiringuito (pronounced chee-reeng-gee-toh, the u in silent) was brought to Spain by los Indianos, the name given to Spaniards who emigrated to South and Central America in the 19th and 20th centuries and then returned to Spain, often with a lot more money under their belt. 

They would order a chiringuito when they wanted un café, a word used by Cubans who worked on sugar plantations to refer to how the coffee they made would filter through a stocking squirted out like a stream (chorro or chiringo).

The first beach kiosk to be dubbed a chiringuito was in 1949 in the coastal Catalan town of Sitges, where many wealthy Indianos settled. 

Then came the hippie movement in the sixties, the explosion of tourism in Spain and the hoards of beachgoers needing refreshing drinks to get some respite from the sun.

In 1983, chiringuito made it into the Spanish dictionary and in 1988 French pop singer Georgie Dann hit the charts with El Chiringuito.

These simple wooden beach huts were now officially part of Spanish culture.

But chiringuito has another meaning in Spain which pays heed to the informal nature of these establishments. 

Nowadays, chiringuito is often used to refer to a shady business, a government department born from cronyism, a bunch of cowboys basically.

Headline in Spanish right-wing news website OK Diario reads “Sánchez increased shady public enterprises (chiringuitos) by 10 percent as GDP plummeted due to the coronavirus”.

We certainly know what kind of chiringuito we prefer.

There’s also the expression “cerrar el chiringuito”, which means to finish a duty and leave.

Examples:

Vamos a tomar unas cañas y un pescaito al chiringuito.

Let’s go and have some beers and some fish at the beach bar. 

Si quieres mantener tus inversiones a salvo has de alejarte todo lo lejos que puedas de lo que se conoce como chiringuito financiero.

If you want to keep your investments safe you have to get away as far as you can from shady companies.

Ya es tarde, habrá que pensar en cerrar el chiringuito e irse a casa.

It’s late, time to finish work and go home.

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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Expression of the Day: ‘¡Al grano!’

Here’s a short but sweet expression that will help you save time when talking to Spaniards. 

Spanish Expression of the Day: '¡Al grano!'

The word grano has many meanings in Spanish. 

It can refer to a grain, bean or seed, such as un grano de arroz (a grain of rice), un grano de café (a coffee bean) or un grano de mostaza (a mustard seed). 

It can also be used to speak about a zit or blemish that you get on your skin in the sense of acne, such as tengo un grano en la frente (I’ve got a spot on my forehead). 

There’s even the expression aportar tu granito de arena, which in the literal sense means to give your small grain of sand, but actually means to do your bit or to give your two cents. 

But in today’s Spanish Expression of the Day, we’ll focus on another very handy expression which includes the word grano al grano to be exact.

Ir al grano means to get straight to the point, to cut to the chase or to spit it out.

So if you want someone in Spain to stop beating about the bush with what they’re doing or saying and get to the nitty-gritty, this is the expression to use. 

Obviously it’s an informal expression which, just like in English, you should use with someone you know well and can afford to tell them to ‘get on with it!’. 

Examples:

¡Deja de andarte por las ramas, hombre! Vete al grano y dime que te pasa.

Stop beating about the bush, man! Spit it out and tell me what’s up with you. 

¡Ya basta de andarse con rodeos! ¡Al grano!

Enough with the messing around! Get on with it!

Juan ha ido directo al grano y le ha dicho a María que está enamorado de ella.

Juan got straight to the point and told María that he is in love with her. 

For extra brownie points from your Spanish friends and family, you should learn the most famous lines of the catchy (and raunchy) 1991 hit Estoy Por Ti by Spanish pop duo Amistades Peligrosas, who sing: “Pero basta ya de tanta tontería, hoy voy ir al grano, te voy a meter mano” (Enough with all the silliness, today I’m cutting to the chase, I’m going to feel you up). 

Different times the nineties, we’re not so sure that today’s political correctness would have allowed the duo to cut to the chase and sing about their true intentions.

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