Sometimes when I go to a Mexican restaurant with friends they ask me to explain the difference between enchiladas and burritos. My answer to them is always “I am not Mexican! I am from Spain. Different country; different continent. We don’t eat the same types of food.” Once I have calmed down from the anger 🙂 people do start asking me about the types of food we eat in Spain or whether there are food I miss that you can’t find in the U.S. Growing up we ate meals that one would associate with Spain such as paella. It is pretty easy to find the ingredients to make paella at home – maybe the type of rice is not THE rice to use but it can come close enough – so it is not something I miss (besides I am not a huge paella fan). Other meals like jamón ibérico or manchego; are hard to find or much more expensive than would be at home. We also ate a lot of foods you would find in American homes like a variety of pasta dishes, steak, or chicken. Sometimes the way these meals are cooked however are different, and my cooking reflects the Spanish-way for the most part.
My cooking and food taste have changed a lot as I have become older. I have added “American” foods to my diet that I never had growing up like chili, stir fry or a variety of ethnic foods. There are American foods I don’t like at all like meatloaf or mac and cheese from a box (grossest thing I have ever seen). I have also maintained some Spanish-traditions. For example, I never use any sauce or gravy in my steak or chicken. I mainly season it with salt and pepper though sometimes I add a dry rub to meats. Any grocery store in the U.S has an aisle full of sauces, gravies and other seasonings that are not typically found at Spanish supermarkets but people here use to add to their meats. Another VERY EUROPEAN example of my eating habits is that I dip French fries in mayo – sometimes I mix ketchup and mayo together. Most people think this is gross, though I always say mayo is just another condiment. There are other examples such as you won’t find any salad dressings in my fridge; I always use oil and vinegar. I REFUSE to have dinner before 7:30 pm (this has been a problem at times and 7:30 is still super early for Spanish-dinner time).
I don’t really cook a lot of traditional Spanish foods but there is one meal that I do make on a regular basic and that is Tortilla de Patatas (known as Spanish Omelette here). A tortilla de patatas is an omelette made with eggs and potatoes. It is relatively easy to make and pretty delicious. It can be eaten cold or hot and it was a typical food my mom would make to take to our Sunday beach trips in the summer.
Tortilla de Patatas
- 2 medium to large size Russet potatoes
- 6 eggs
- 1 Onion
- Vegetable oil (sunflower oil would also work)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes.
- Dice the onion and mix together with the potatoes. Rinse the mix with water and season with salt.
- Heat a large skillet with an inch of vegetable oil to medium heat and fry the potatoes until soft*.
- While the potatoes are cooking, crack the six eggs in a large bowl and whisk until well mixed. Add some salt to the eggs.
- Mix the cooked potatoes/onion mix with the eggs until combined.
- Choose a skillet that is is big enough to fit all the ingredients BUT also a tad smaller than one of your regular plates.
- Heat the skillet at high heat with just enough olive oil to cover the pan. The trick is to get the pan and oil pretty hot so the food won’t stick when you add it to the pan.
- Add the egg/potato/onion mix to the pan once is hot. There will be some sizzling at first. Let the eggs settle for a minute before turning down the heat to medium.
- Here is the trickiest part! After the tortillas has been cooking for a couple of minutes, put the plate on top of the skillet to cover all the food. Now take a deep breath (this is a brave step) and flip the skillet upside down so the plate is now at the bottom and the skillet on top (the tortilla will now be on the plate, cooked side up).
- Slide the tortilla back into the skillet so the uncooked part is now at the bottom part of the skillet.
- Continue cooking the tortilla until the eggs have settled (about five minutes) flipping the tortilla one more time.