Elizabeth the SATW Traveling Teddy explored the distinctive cuisine of Extremadura, Spain, with a paws-on cooking class from a master. She worked alongside Francisco Refolio, a second-generation chef/owner at Restaurante El Corregidor in the historic city of Caceres.
Elizabeth travels for the third-grade class of Meredith Schroeder at St. Joseph Consolidated School in Hamilton, Ohio, and the kindergarten class of Barbara Hill at Crawford Street Playschool in Vicksburg, Miss.
The Traveling Teddy program is a geographic outreach program of the Society of American Travel Writers. As ambassadors for school classes in the U.S. and Canada, the Traveling Teddies explore the globe with SATW professionals and send home postcards, souvenirs and blog posts to help the students discover the world beyond their classrooms.
Cooking with Extremadura's freshest ingredients
Extremadura, about a three hours’ drive west of Madrid, is famous for its Iberian ham, honey, olive oil, cheeses, wine and cherries. Farmers also grow and smoke red peppers that become pimenton, often called smoked paprika in the U.S.
After greeting Elizabeth, Chef Refolio helped her make a platter of wild boar over a typical Extremaduran salad of roasted peppers and onions.
Caceres is a vertical slice of history, with Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance style all blended together in an untouched city center. Remarkably, it has 30 towers standing from the Muslim period of Spanish history. In 1986, Caceres became a UNESCO World Heritage City.
Mushrooms from Roman times, dessert from Arab days
The large, plump mushrooms that the Romans loved are still called Roman gold today, and Elizabeth learned how to make mushroom carpaccio with Chef Refolio. She shaved very thin slices of the mushrooms onto a platter, along with foie gras and olive oil.
For dessert, Chef Refolio looked to the Arab era in Caceres’ history, when cooks used what they had during difficult times. To make repapalos, he and Elizabeth soaked bread without crusts in milk and cinnamon, and formed them into balls for frying. Elizabeth learned there’s nothing better than cold vanilla ice cream with the fried repaplos—especially when Chef Refolio’s restaurant makes the ice cream.
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