Spain: Where my Food Obsession Comes From

If there is one thing we Spaniards talk about more than anything else is food.  We are having our morning cup of coffee and wondering what we will eat for lunch.  At lunch, we are talking about after-work tapas, and at tapas we are talking about dinner!  We think about food all day long!

This trip was no different.  With so many options it was hard to decide what to eat.  Let me show you some of the things we enjoyed during the trip…

Something really typical in Madrid for breakfast is Chocolate with Churros. It’s a thick hot chocolate served with sweet, long oval churros. Of course, we can’t forget the delicious coffee!

Churros are dipped on the chocolate and then eaten.

Mary loved her fresh squeezed orange juice. The oranges come from the Valencia region of Spain (east coast) and are really juicy and sweet.

At my uncle Luis’ house we cooked paella in his outdoor kitchen.  He likes to cook outside in the summer so the house doesn’t heat up.  He has a wood burning barbecue, stone pizza oven and his own large paella burner.

Paella is a typical Spanish dish we like to eat as a family on the weekends.  My uncle Luis makes paella better than anywhere else in Spain. What can I say, I might be a little bias but this Dr is a total foodie on the weekends!  Paella is a saffron seasoned rice dish that has either meat, seafood, or a combination of the two. Below is a Paella Mixta (a combination of chicken and seafood).

Spanish people eat a lot of salad.  Salad is an entry dish to lunch and dinner daily.  Below is what we call “ensalada Española” or Spanish salad. It contains: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shredded carrots, corn, spanish olives, hard boiled eggs with tuna being optional. The dressing is very simple, olive oil and vinegar.

One of the things Spanish people pride themselves on is fresh food.  It is often said that Spain could be self sufficient and independent if it not were for oil.  Regardless of where you are in the country, fresh seafood and produce is always available.  To serve your family processed food is seen as uncaring and not placing importance on their health and well being (although everyone indulges in the occasional fast food drive-through).  My grandmother cooked all 3 main meals from scratch every day and snacks out of a box were non existent. After school, I would eat a piece of home made coffee cake and a glass of milk.  As an adult, I’ve out grown the “merienda” (afternoon snack), but we now go get tapas (small dishes) and “cañas” fresh draft beer.  Every bar in Madrid has at least one beer on tap and it’s served in small glasses (not pints).  The prices are very reasonalble and often times tapas and cañas with friends is all one needs after work instead of dinner.

Here we went to eat tapas with my cousins and the food was delicious! So much so, that I forgot to take a picture before we started! ooops! We ate: grilled vegetables, cheese, serrano ham, grilled potatoes with alioli sauce, grilled red peppers, baked goat cheese, sobrasada, and morcilla (black boudin).

Lunch in Murcia, thoroughly enjoying the food!

I thought I’d post a picture of what we call “arroz negro” or black rice.  Here, my cousin Miguel is about to eat a plate of it for lunch in Valencia.  Black rice is made with squid ink and it has lots of seafood.  It’s a really tasty dish if you can get over the color of what you are eating!

For dessert, Annie opted for freshly made chocolate ice-cream.  It was creamy and rich… über delicious!

I personally preferred “Miguelitos.”  They are a delicate dessert from the Cuenca region of Spain. These were my grandmother’s favorite.  They are thin puff pastry squares filled with fresh vanilla cream.  One bite and you’ll be hooked for life.  I picked these up at one of their bakery stores on the way back to Madrid the last day of our trip.  I even had TWO for breakfast the morning we were departing back to the USA.

Our “last supper” was at my uncle Luis’ house.  He lives twenty minutes away from the Madrid airport and he was incredibly happy to host us. Dinner in Spain happens around 8:30 or 9pm. The food is simple and designed to feed many.  We are eating “Tortilla Española” or Spanish omelette (eggs & potatoes).  Empanadas, two types of quiche and gazpacho was served.

Most importantly, food in Spain represents “family time.”  It’s a time to get together as a family and discuss the events of the day. Old school? Sure, but it keeps families close and “together.”  Food is always part of the conversation in Spain, and families look forward to the next gathering.  I know many families in the States who only get “everyone” together a few times a year (Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas).  In Spain, getting together is a weekly thing if you live within a 1-2hr drive.  It’s important, and essential to the family.  Being brought up with weekly dinners together and nightly gatherings with my aunt, uncle and cousins (they lived next door) is the reason why evening activities are non-negotiable at my house.  Life is busy, and dinner time is the only time we get together and be grateful for being with family.

 

What are some of the family traditions you have that are build around food??

June 10, 2011

Leave a Reply 6 comments

Chichi - June 10, 2011 Reply

Laura:
Everything looks so yummy !!! I cant’ wait to go back and eat that “arroz negro”, one of my favorites dishes.

Nichole - June 11, 2011 Reply

This all looks so awesome Laura! I remember when I’d come over and you and your Mom would make Paella. Yum..so tasty!

Tiffany's Toy Box - June 14, 2011 Reply

OMG!! I LOVE EVERYTHING! I am Cuban so I love and know about almost all the dishes you mentioned! YIKES, now my mouth is watering! Thanks a lot, Laura! Glad u enjoyed your time!

xox
Tiffany

    Laura Fuentes - June 14, 2011 Reply

    I love food that’s for sure!

Amy - March 12, 2013 Reply

I clicked on this link through a more recent post on your blog and I must say that it really brought back some memories!! Back in college, I spent a month in Spain {primarily Salamanca} and was able to enjoy many of the foods and traditions you wrote about. Two dishes that I miss the most? The paella and the Tortilla Española! So, so yummy!! What I would give to indulge in those two dishes again!! Thank you for sharing!!

    Laura Fuentes - March 12, 2013 Reply

    Hi Amy! thank you so much! that is one of my favorite posts… thank YOU for clicking through and finding out a little bit more about me. 🙂

Leave a Reply: