Spain is a very beautiful country. The landscape is a gorgeous site in itself, but to experience the differences in culture can be life changing. The pastel colored smooth plastered buildings, the churches, and the cobblestone streets are incredible to behold. You can ask for, “agua sin gas” which is non carbonated water or water without gas. Isn't this a clever description.
It can be difficult to get used to certain things in Spain.You won't eat the big American breakfast of eggs and bacon which so many people really love. You may or may not love having a breakfast of crusty bread and coffee. Everything is closed at lunch time. People shut down the restaurants and shops to go home for a siesta. I think this would be a great tradition to begin implementing here in Southern Minnesota. I read the other day that siestas are very beneficial to your health. We should all be able to nap mid day. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?
Once you discover the food in Spain, sometime after 3 p.m., it will be well worth the wait. You eat in outdoor cafes overlooking the ocean, in plazas situated in the middle of the city, or in candlelit restaurants in and around villages. You might try paella (a seafood medley served with rice), mussels in white wine sauce, polverones (a type of pastry), or a dish called tortilla de patatas. This is also called a Spanish omelet and a Tortilla Espanola. Whatever you want to call it, it is delicious.
The tortilla de patatas has nothing to do with a tortilla, as we know the word. It is really a fluffy egg and potato dish cooked in olive oil. Legend has it, that an 18th Century Spanish general stopped by a farm house and asked the house wife to cook a meal for his troops. All she had were some eggs, potatoes and onions. She combined them into what is now called the tortilla de patatas and the general was pleased with the tasty result. Who wouldn’t be?
The potatoes are lightly fried in olive oil and the onions are sautéed in olive oil as well. At that point, you can be creative and add garlic, mushrooms, and/or red peppers. I have even seen some recipes where shrimp is added. I bet it would be magical with a little smoky bacon. In this recipe, I added garlic and sweet red peppers.
Please visit Mocol's Super Market at 1001 North Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001-3331
(507) 345-3129 for all of the ingredients in this dish. They are friendly and family run.
Tortilla de patatas:
Time: 30 minutes
3 C. fingerling potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 large sweet red pepper
1 yellow onion
1 clove of garlic
1 C. olive oil, divided (possibly more)
¼ C. milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice onion and pepper. Coarsely chop the garlic. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan on medium high. Sauté the onion, pepper and garlic until onion is clear. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 2 more Tbsp. olive oil. Add the potatoes. Keep moving them around so they do not stick. Cook for ten minutes flipping them over. You do not want them to be brown and crispy, just cooked through. Whisk together eggs, milk and a dash of salt and pepper. Remove the cooked potatoes from the pan. Pour the rest of the oil into the pan (1/4 inch). Heat on high and watch that it doesn’t smoke. Mix the potatoes and vegetables into the egg mixture. Carefully pour into the oil. Cook for five minutes. Flip this over. We flipped it in pieces. If you are very clever, you can try to flip it with a plate over the top. You can also place the entire skillet in the oven and let the top broil and brown. If you flip it in pieces, you have to shake the pan again to let it all settle. It will form back into one piece again. Cook for five minutes on this side. Flip it out onto a platter. Cool and slice. Enjoy.