Last march we read an article on the American newspaper Huffington Post that caught our attention and we had pending a little review. On that article the journalist talks about the habits, typical foods and some lifestyle facts that make us, the Spanish people, better at life. The mentioned text shows us how some things that are part of our day-to-day are really representatives of our gastronomic culture and make us completely different to any other nation. However, there is some facts listed on this article that are just clichés and, even they contain a little truth, we will like to clarify from the point of view of a Spanish.
Therefore, we are going to reproduce the original article but we’ll intersperse our explaining notes, which we hope to help you understand our gastronomic culture a little better.
(You’ll find a link to the original source at the end)
“Spain is so many things: sexy and sophisticated, cool and casual, lively and leisurely, and when it comes to food and drink, at once indulgent and minimalist. The Spanish people savor the right things — high quality ingredients to be enjoyed amongst friends.
Where else in the world are you given free food when you go out to a bar? Where else does convention tell you it’s ok to take a nice, long nap after a eating a large, leisurely lunch?
In Spain, it’s all about the attitude. The country is home to some of the world’s best restaurants and the origin of one of the world’s biggest trends: small plates. Still, Spain is somehow unassuming.
It should not go underrated, however. Remarkably, one country has brought us both churros — fried dough to dunk in chocolate — and chorizo — a spicy pork sausage. It’s brought us patatas bravas — crispy fried potatoes — and paella — a rice dish with so many varieties it’s surely one of the world’s most versatile comfort foods.
The Spanish people know that life is for celebrating, and it is best celebrated with food, friends and family. Here are 15 reasons the Spanish are winning at life.”
Although the introduction is already addressing one of the most famous clichés (yes, we invented “la siesta”, the little nap after lunch), it describes the essence of our way of life. We are a very social nation. Being with friends and family is a necessity written on our DNA. Moreover, the well eating is a kind of religion, and the enormous diversity of foods existing in this mediterranean country makes this task even easier. Due to all this, both social life and gastronomy are inseparable elements.
“They understand the art of simplicity.
Pan con tomate is exactly what it sounds like — bread with tomatoes — and it’s utter perfection.”
This is completely true. Spain is a country of fruits and vegetables, and with some good tomatoes and a toasted bread slice, we can make something as simple and delicious as “Pan con tomate”. The elaboration of this meal is so simple as it sounds. Nevertheless, there is some differences depending on the region. In south Spain, the tomato is firstly crushed to be placed later over the bread with an olive oil jet and salt. Moreover, in Catalonia the traditions says that the tomato must be only scrubbed against the toasted bread. Any way, its simplicity and healthy nature is which makes it the perfect breakfast for almost half Spain.
“Patatas Bravas are eaten on the regular.
Patatas Bravas are fried potatoes, seasoned and often covered with a spicy tomato sauce or a mayonnaise. They’re like the best home fries you’ve ever eaten.”
There is a little mistake on this description: the Patatas Bravas, or just Bravas, are always covered with a spicy tomato sauce. Bravo means wild, savage, fierce, and that is the reason because the fried potatoes must be go with spicy sauce. But in spite of being an easy dish, the sauce and the way of cooking the potatoes are a secret that some bars keep as a magician keeps the best of its tricks.
Moreover, there is another typical Tapa that you will easily find in many bars: “Patatas con ali-oli”. The difference with Bravas is the sauce. The Ali-Oli is garlic sauce similar to mayonnaise which was originally made with whipped olive oil, garlic and parsley.
“They take snacks very seriously.
Because they eat a small breakfast, a later lunch and a super late dinner, snacking is an integral part of the day in Spain. From churros on the street to tapas in a bar, there’s a snack for every mood and every palate. Pictured here is a classic tapas dish called Gildas, which is anchovy, olive and peppers on bread.“
This is completely true. We like to take seriously the snacks, and, although this custom is extended all around the country, there is a capital city, which is San Sebastian, and a name for these artistic snacks: Pintxos.
“Croquetas come in all flavors.
Bite-sized, breaded, fried fritters, croquetas, or croquettes, might be filled with ham, potatoes, cod or cheese. They’re a typical tapas dish and whatever they’re filled with, they’re pretty dreamy, in our opinion.“
The Croquetas used to be a dish made to take advantage of the leftover from the day before. Thus, you could find hundreds of flavours among you will find your favorite. By the way, there are many grandmas that could leave a fool to some of the best chefs regarding this matter.
“They invented churros.
A churro is a tube of fried dough that can be dipped in chocolate. It’s kind of like a skinny doughnut, but better, and you can eat churros as breakfast, dessert or a snack.”
Indeed, Churros are often eaten for breakfast, where they are more common, but you can eat them at any moment. In fact, Churros with chocolate are the perfect meal at 7:00 AM when going back home after a long party night. They are harder to find in little villages than in cities, but extremely easy when the festivities arrives.
“They put potatoes in everything, including omelets.
A classic Spanish dish, the Tortilla Española,or a Spanish potato omelette, is eaten as is or in a sandwich.”
We hadn’t realized but it is true. We don’t need any excuse to put some potato on any dish, but do it really well. In fact, the difference between the regular omelet and our “tortilla de patata” is enormous, and we just put some fried potatoes to the whipped eggs (and a bit of onion. That is the secret).
“Sherry is having a renaissance, and the Spanish are one step ahead.
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes in the south of Spain. Once considered boring and old news, this wine is seeing a comeback. We’re on board.“
Correct! We are more than a step ahead in this matter since sherry, or “Jerez” in spanish, is unique and only us have the proper weather, grapes and land to produce it ( “Sherry” has protected designation of origin status, and under Spanish law, all wine labelled as “Sherry” must legally come from the Sherry Triangle, an area in the province of Cádiz between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María). We are very proud of all our wines, and chiefly this kind of trendy wines which are showing how well we make it in Spain.
“You get free food when you go to a bar.
We repeat: FREE food, when you go to a bar. These free snacks, known as tapas, might be a bowl of chips, olives, cheeses, cured meats, breads ,croquetas, patatas bravas or so much more. When you go out drinking, you’ll often be given a snack to tide you over until your late dinner (or keep you at the bar forever). According to The Joy Of Cooking, tapas originated when patrons at bars were given a piece of bread to cover their sherry glass to protect their drink from flies. The spanish word tapa means a cover or lid. Today, tapas also means small plates, and they’re not always free, but still: Tapas is more than just free food — it’s a philosophy.“
This is right. It is usual to get a free snack along with your drink and this is the origin of the famous Tapas. But there is something to put into context: the quality and the amount of this free food uses to be related to the drink price. So as you can imagine, as much better is your Tapa, more expensive will be the bill (this relation isn’t always true inversely).
Moreover, in spite of being an extended custom, some cities have their Tapas culture more developed and rooted than others. The “Humedo” district in the city of Leon is a good example of how to take this tradition seriously. Many bars in this area of the downtown offer you a short menu with the available free Tapas you can choose as accompaniment for your drink: morcilla, croquetas, ham, fried eggs, little burgers, pizza slices… and the best of all, with a price that seldom passes 2€.
“They do calamari right.
Calamares fritos is a popular tapas dish in Spain. Squid is covered in batter, fried in oil, and served with lemon or mayonnaise.”
To be honest, I couldn’t imagine that foreign people could highlight our way of cooking calamari, but they are really an unknown and cheap delicacy.
“They eat a big lunch and then they nap.
Nap time after lunch — it’s the stuff dreams are made of.”
We are very proud of have taught the world the art of “Siesta”, but we really don’t practice it as often as we would like. It is just a pleasure reserved for the weekends and holiday seasons.
“Spain is home to chorizo.
Chorizo, a Spanish pork sausage, is one of those foods that makes everything it touches better. It’s typically seasoned with pimentón, or smoked paprika, and can be eaten on its own, thinly sliced as tapas, or in a dish like Chorizo Poached in Red Wine.“
It is a simple spiced sausage which could be just like any others. But chorizo is really very tasty and different in flavour, something which makes it an indispensable ingredient in many traditional stews such as “fabada” or “cocido madrileño”.
“Spain is also home to Jamón Ibérico.
Jamón Ibérico is a cured ham made from black Iberian pigs who live in the south of Spain. Until recently, the ham was illegal in the United States, but luckily for us, it’s now allowed — albeit very expensive. The highest quality Jamón Ibérico comes from free-range pigs who forage for acorns, or bellota. This Jamón Ibérico de bellota has a more nutty flavor and can cost up to $87 a pound.“
Nothing to explain about the jewel of our gastronomy along with the olive oil. If you didn’t know about Jamon Iberico, you wouldn’t be visiting this blog.
“Paella is one of the world’s best comfort foods.
Paella is a familiar, classic Spanish dish, whose main ingredient is rice. It’s a particular speciality of Valencia, where it might come with rabbit, snails and beans, or with seafood, such as clams, mussels, squid, shrimp and lobster.“
According with brave defenders of the paella, there is only one authentic and real paella type, and it is the Valencian style paella. Nevertheless, the way of cooking this rice dish is very similar along the east Spain, and we haven’t been able to choose our favourite yet: seafood paella, meat paella, arroz abanda, black rice… all of them delicious.
“They drink sangria.
What’s more refreshing and festive than sangria?”
This is also an invention for which we feel also very proud. Actually, the European Union has established a law that says only the one made in Spain or Portugal can be called “Sangria”.
“They eat a late, light dinner, so they can go out and party.
It’s normal to eat dinner between 9pm and 12am, and then go out for a few hours. At the end of the night of drinking and dancing, naturally there’s always room for another snack. And we wonder why Spanish people so much cooler than us.”
Finally, one of the most known clichés about Spain. However it is not totally false. It’s true that our diary schedule uses to be at least 2 or 3 hours retarded with regard the rest of countries (we have probably the most retard), and our eating hours are always later than any one. Sometimes, in the touristic places in Spain, you can see how Spanish people is leaving the restaurant after lunch at the same time the first european visitors are arriving for their dinner. In the other hand, there is something false in this cliché: the fact of we have dinner later, doesn’t mean that we are going to go out for party. But maybe this another reason why we have undoubtedly the best and most fun parties around the world.
Original source: www.huffingtonpost.com