This week, the Huffington Post website reproduced a piece from its Spanish offshoot listing the most common misconceptions about Spain and the Spaniards.
Some were familiar - everyone in Spain adores bullfighting, takes a siesta every afternoon and eats paella washed down with sangria every night. (Apparently only tourists drink sangria; the locals prefer beer and wine, just like the rest of us.)
Some were contrived. Given that football is the only truly global game and Spain has two of the world's most famous clubs - Barcelona and Real Madrid - and won the World Cup and consecutive European championships not so long ago, it's hard to believe anyone who takes even a cursory interest in sport would think Rafael Nadal is Spain's only athlete of note.
This myth-busting exercise was prompted by a "cliche-ridden" article in the New York Times: "Spain, Land of the 10pm Dinner." The article was probably in the grand journalistic tradition whereby a visiting scribe breezes through a country conducting in-depth interviews with bartenders and taxi drivers, then distils the fruits of his/her "research" into a few sweeping, usually negative generalisations secure in the knowledge that the readers back home don't know any better and will therefore take his/her word for it.
We get this treatment from the Brits from time to time. When it comes to sneering at other countries, no one does it better.
Spectator magazine has had two bites at the kiwifruit in recent years. In one case the correspondent experienced "an involuntary tightening of the sphincter" on visiting Auckland for the first time in 30 years. Presumably his ex-private school readers understood the code because we weren't enlightened as to the origins of this muscle memory.
A couple of years later the magazine enthusiastically reviewed a book that portrayed New Zealand as a "philistine hellhole" populated by fat, ugly, tattooed men and women with "lesbian haircuts".
It's therefore pleasing to report that the Poms have been given a taste of their own medicine. A Portuguese physics professor at Imperial College, London has published a book about his adopted country, describing it as "one of the most rotten societies" in the world, full of "violent animals" whose homes aren't as clean as his grandmother's poultry cage. He does admire their sense of humour, though.
The HuffPost piece also criticised the portrayal of Spain in American films and TV shows. This isn't really an issue for us. True, Ben Affleck traduced New Zealand in his Oscar-winning film Argo, but we came out of that controversy better than he did. He had to admit he'd taken liberties for dramatic purposes and sought our forgiveness in true Hollywood style by telling us he loved us.
I saw Michael Mann's epic heist-revenge thriller Heat in Sydney. When the criminal mastermind, played by Robert De Niro, declares his intention to give up his life of crime and retire to New Zealand, the theatre erupted in derisive guffaws.
I wasn't surprised. During my time in the lucky country I'd become all too familiar with the Australian tendency to portray New Zealand as a land that time forgot where sheep play an important role in a young man's coming of age. And as soon as young men come of age and can tear themselves away from their woolly paramours, they cross the ditch to lie on a beach and bludge off the long-suffering Australian taxpayer.
The Kiwi dole bludger misconception has been around since the 1970s and it seems nothing can shake it: not the statistics that consistently show Kiwi immigrants work harder and earn more than Australians born in Australia or immigrants in general, nor the fact that Australian governments have gone out of their way to deprive Kiwi immigrants of benefits.
The English have this notion that New Zealand is like England was 40 years ago. The only places bearing any resemblance to what England was like 40 years ago are in England.
The Brits also struggle to get their heads around our multicultural society, clinging to the belief that the only Polynesians here are rugby players snatched off South Pacific beaches by NZRU press gangs.
No discussion of stereotypes would be complete without rolling out the old chestnut that rugby is a religion in New Zealand.
The comparison is valid only in that both rugby and religion find it increasingly hard to draw a live audience. But with church attendance around the 15 per cent of the population mark, we can put this notion to bed once and for all. Rugby isn't a religion - it's better funded, better organised, has more of a following and is taken much more seriously.