Sunday, 3 February 2013

Food for Thought

Recently Mimi commented that she was unfamilar with Spanish food, and I'm afraid many people will confuse it with Mexican. If you're familar with the food pyramid, that's the Meditterranean diet and that's what the Spanish eat. Hot spicy foods are disliked by the majority. Sometimes you'll get a 'piquillo pepper' which is hot, but in general piquillo peppers are just another type of pepper, the vegetable. If you buy a bunch of these peppers at least one will burn your taste buds. That's the well-known law of probabilities when it comes to these delicacies. Count yourself lucky or unlucky. Just remember Spanish people don't like that burning sensation. Apart from piquillo peppers, there are few dishes that will have you grabbing for something to relieve your burnt mouth, throat and stomach. 'Patatas bravas' are one such dish. These are chunks of fried potatoes covered in a hot sauce. The best sauce is homemade, of course, and the hottest, I think, is the sauce that you buy already made. There used to be a place near one of the universities that supposedly had the best patatas bravas in existence. I haven't been there in years to know if it still exists.

Paella, a rice dish made with different meats and seafood, is one of my favourites. My photo is pretty old - probably around 1978 or so. The chefs are three students from the institute where I worked until it closed in 2004. The tallest of the three is actually the one who prepared the paella using his mother's recipe, and it was delicious. I imagine I would have prepared a dessert. The salad my flatmate Paula would have made and I don't know what anyone else would have brought. As you can see, we also had sangría (very popular with tourists). I only like sangría if it doesn't have a lot of sugar in it. An antedote or two about this photo before I finish. Ramón, the one who made the paella, lived directly across the street from Paula and me. Actually, he's the one who told us about the flat for rent as he knew the landlords. One of the neighbours in his building was always looking out her window at us, because at first we didn't have curtains and she could see through the French windows. The day of the paella, we were being silly and making faces at her and going out onto the balcony in masks when suddenly Ramón's mother came out onto their balcony. And just look at that wallpaper! We used to see it on TV and laugh. Our furniture was all from the 1960's. Too bad you can't see the backs of the chairs. They were heart-shaped. Another day, Ramón and I were visiting my friend June who lived next door. He recognized a lamp that she had as one he used to have. His mother had thrown it out, and June had found herself a lamp that worked perfectly.

Hope you've enjoyed reading what Spanish food isn't, and I hope everybody has a good week.  


  1. What a great photo! I love it!

    I've never heard of sangria with sugar. I guess the stuff people serve around here and call sangria is really just white wine and orange juice. No one seems to get more fancy with it than that.

    1. Sangria is always red wine with fruit like oranges, peaches, lemons and selzer or Fanta lemon or similar carbonated drink and sugar. I always add a bit of cinnamon and very little sugar.

  2. I love homemade sangria - always much better than what we get in a restaurant. Thanks for the wonderful lesson on Spanish foods! Made me hungry!!

  3. Very interesting post! I like many others thought Spanish food was spicy. I actually LOVE spicy food and I had hot sauce and red crushed pepper to almost everything I eat..LOL.

  4. I don't know much about Spanish food, but I do like Paella, and although I've never tried Sangria I've always quite liked the sound of it. Love that photo, there's something quite special about old photos. :-)

  5. Thanks, Brenda! Now I have some new dishes to try!