TRADITIONAL FLAVORS OF SPAIN
Flamenco, sol, olé, playa, tapas, paella and tortilla are some of the most typical words that come to our minds when we think of Spain. And it makes sense, since those are the magical things that take us to the streets of Madrid, the Ramblas of Barcelona, the Fallas in Valencia or the summer in Mallorca or Tenerife.
Being a Spaniard who has been living abroad for a few times in different parts of the world, food is probably the thing that I have been missing the most. Although nowadays it is easier to find products all over the world like the famous jamón serrano, chorizo, pimientos del piquillo or even the amazing pimentón de la Vera, it is not as easy to enjoy original food from Spain as it is to enjoy Chinese or Italian food. Maybe because Chinese and Italian people have been doing their job promoting their culture for a longer time in foreign countries than we have.
According to my experience in the USA, Germany or Colombia, and compared to other cuisines, there are not that many Spanish restaurants outside Spain. And those who opened a Spanish kitchen to offer amazing and special dishes do not serve what is considered to be the heart-touching traditional dishes we Spaniards enjoy every day. Do not get me wrong, the food these restaurants prepare is great, but they decided to give it a special touch that is different from the original taste because evolving is always good.
As an example, while I was living in New York, I attended a special dinner in one of the most famous Spanish restaurants in the city. Great atmosphere, great food, great flavors. I was going to enjoy a beautiful menu. Among some of the dishes, I had pulpo a la gallega. As many of you may know, pulpo a la gallega (or pulpo a feira in Galician) is made with boiled potatoes, boiled octopus, some pimentón, salt and olive oil, that’s it. That is one of the dishes anyone can enjoy in Galicia, so every time you try it, it takes you to Santiago de Compostela, to A Coruña, to its coast, to its forests. The dish I was offered at that Spanish restaurant in NYC was made with boiled octopus covered in a special melted cheese and some pimentón. That is new Spanish food and it is AWESOME. I totally support the evolution of Spanish food, it is a must letting new Chefs innovate. However, I have to say that the traditional flavors and the feelings that we have deep in us are those that take us to the table of our grandparents surrounded by our family on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Spain. That is what was difficult for me to find.
This is what I mean
So, what am I trying to say? Simple. We all know how it tastes traditional pizza, focaccia, spaghetti, spring rolls, Peking-style duck or sweet and sour pork. It does not matter if you live in the UK, the US, Germany, Denmark…you probably have a Chinese or Italian restaurant two blocks away or downtown in your city where you can find their traditional food and at an affordable price. However, only those people who have visited Spain or those who know some Spaniards living abroad might have enjoyed the real taste of Spain.
Outside Spain, there are just a few amount of places that preserve the traditional flavors and aromas of this great country and take them to the customer. Until these type of places become more popular or we Spaniards dare to open them, I would like to bring you some real recipes ralted to Iberian Ham so you can prepare it and enjoy it yourself at home. And I promise it will taste even better, because it will be your own hands the ones that will take care of the products, of every single ingredient, like the artist takes care of his painting or the musician takes care of the notes. Because, let’s be aware of this, we are talking about art here, a huge work of immaterial art that has been made for hundreds of years.
I will share with you stories about our jamón ibérico, anecdotes, places to visit, funny facts and, of course, recipes. And why not, I will also show you a couple of recipes including new ideas, new ingredients, combining cultures and flavors that work really good together, clarifying that those are not the traditional recipes, but still having an open mind. I will take you to the brave heart of Spain. I hope you enjoy this and you become part of it. Ask me, make any suggestions you may have, I will read all of them.
Thank you and enjoy!