Posts tagged spanish food

Guest Post: Erin from LaTortugaViajera.com

The lovely Erin from La Tortuga Viajera is providing today’s post. A fellow American expat in Spain, she lives in Madrid where she blogs about her adventures in Spain, and most recently her travels around exotic locales like Georgia (the country, not the state!), and Turkey. Today she’s sharing her knowledge of madrileño cuisine—and just a fair warning, don’t read this on an empty stomach! :)

Chilled gazpacho in the south, gourmet pinchos in the north, and crusty saffron-spiked paella in the west – Spain’s regions pop out local cuisine like Chicago does pizza. But what about Madrid?

Little is said of the capital’s famous dishes – partially because the city sits at the crossroads for national culture and cuisine, making it a melting pot of dishes. But also because, relatively speaking, the country’s largest city is actually quite young.  As a result, popular platos from the past are far and few between.

Since I’m professional Spanish food eater (because I said so), I’ve narrowed down some of my favorite dishes so that you can get a proper taste of Madrid when passing through.

Cocido


Translated literally as “boiled”, the garbanzo-bean-filled stew is a favorite on cold winter days and the perfect cure for the common, and very likely, Spanish hangover. While cocido versions can be found throughout the country, the Madrid version is perhaps the most versatile. The simple broth obtains its flavors from a mixture of vegetables, stock, meat, sausage and of course garbanzo beans.

Typically, once the stew is complete, the broth is strained then served first with tiny noodles (not unlike chicken noodle soup – minus the chicken), and followed by a plateful of the cooked beans, veggies and meat. 



To try the most traditional and admired of cocidos madrileños, stop by La Bola (Calle de la Bola 5), where the stew is brewed in clay pots over a fire stove.

Patatas bravas

Image: Creative Commons License via Flickr

While this dish can be found throughout the nation, the tourist favorite probably feels most at home in the Spanish capital. Regional versions vary, but in Madrid expect to be served a mountain of chopped and fried potatoes doused with a spicy tomato sauce (and sometimes even mayonnaise). You can indulge in your craving for the famous Spanish dish at tapas bars throughout the city.

Bocadillo de calamares


Sometimes you just need a sandwich filled with fried calamari. What’s that - you haven’t had the craving before? Then you haven’t tried one of Madrid’s most famous foods. These aren’t your popcorn-style mystery munchies from back home, but instead ultra-tender, slightly breaded rings that will make you forget everything you thought you knew about calamari. Served warmed on a baguette of bread and often with a side of lemon, the Spanish sandwich redefines finger-licking good.

Hit up Bar Postas (Calle Postas, 13) to try the traditional treat. At only a couple euros a pop, it’s at least worth a taste.

Huevos rotos

Image: Creative Commons License via Flickr

It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps (and yes, I think Spain could probably give New York a run for their dinero on this one), has yet another hangover-worthy dish – huevos rotos. Served as a greasy mess of french fries topped with a fried egg and often jamón, the dish isn’t for the bashful eater. To live up to its name - translated as “broken eggs” – one must mix up all the ingredients so that the runny egg and crispy fries become one big unrecognizable mush. Sounds appetizing, right?

To get this mouth-watering dish (work with me here), head to La Taberna de los Huevos de Lucio in La Latina (Calle Cava Baja, 30).

Churros con chocolate


Really, if you leave Madrid without giving churros a go, then you haven’t lived. While the doughy sticks have a similar scalloped shape as those back in the States, their similarities end there. Churros served in the Spanish capital tend to be sugar free (or at most, with just a sprinkle) and loop-shaped. Accompanying the doughy drops are cups of thick hot chocolate with the consistency of a creamy soup. Don’t be fooled though – this chocolaty mixture, while definitely sweet, doesn’t pack the sugary punch that you might expect.

You can find the breakfast treat year-round in churrerías and in many cafeterías. During wintertime, don’t even be surprised to see popup churro vans ready to take care of your sweet tooth.

Madrid indeed offers up other dishes as well – in fact, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention callos (tripe…that’s right - stomach). But I, uh, umm, haven’t had time to try that one, so you know, give it a try and let me know what you think, OK?

(All pictures copyright of Erin unless otherwise noted.)

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I’m guest-posting over at Erin’s blog today as well about delicious Andalusian cuisine. Come check it out!

What You Think You Know About Spain is Completely Wrong.

DISCLAIMER: What I’ve written below is a personal account, and rather than to be assumed as fact, was meant to be a fun way of debunking popular myths for my readers intending to travel to Spain. So before anyone gets all hot and bothered, please remember that I am well aware there are exceptions to everything; some Spaniards do indeed like sangria after all!

Probably. But have no fear, I’m here to dispel some rather common misconceptions about Spain, and provide some insight along the way!

The drink of choice is sangría.

Correction: The tourist’s drink of choice is sangría. And nothing is wrong with that, except it will pin you automatically as a tourist, and may result in you being charged more. Most Spaniards sticks to wine, since Spanish wine is cheap AND delicious, beer, and simple mixed drinks; like rum and coke, as cocktails aren’t as popular here as in other places. Some of my favorite drinks I’ve discovered in Spain? Kalimotxos from the Basque Country, Cava from Catalunya and Claras/Tinto de Verano from Andalucía.

Bullfighting is the national sport.

Correction: Fútbol is the national sport, and even then, not everyone is a fervid, bleed-your-team’s colors fan; or a fan at all even. 

Everyone dances flamenco.

Correction: Flamenco is the collective word for the guitars, singing, dancing and clapping that make up Flamenco. One dancing style is actually called sevillanas, as it originates from Sevilla. And Flamenco is really only celebrated in Madrid and in Andalucía.

Spanish food is spicy.

Correction: Spanish food is hearty. Spanish food is uncomplicated. But it is not in the slightest spicy, like Mexican food. In fact, there is almost no relation between Spanish and Mexican cuisine minus dulce de leche for dessert and a heavy use of beans in many dishes. Probably the spiciest things you can order in Spain are patatas bravas pimientos de padrón, spicy chorizo, or guindilla peppers.


Tapas/Pintxos are a type of food.

Correction: Tapas describe the small portions of food, not the type of food. Tapas and pintxos are a way of eating, not food in itself. The word “tapa” comes from the Spanish word, “tapar”, which means “to cover”.  Way back when, bartenders would place a piece of bread with ham or other goodies on top to keep flies out of drinks. Now tapas are known as the small bar snacks that are a pillar of Spanish cuisine. Pintxos are their Basque counterparts, varying in size (slightly larger) and are almost always accompanied by a slice of bread underneath, whereas tapas are normally small plates.


Since Spain is a Catholic country, the people are devout Catholics.

Correction: Ha! Or more appropriately: ¡JA! Though the elaborate, serious ceremonies of Semana Santa may lead you to believe differently, the majority of the younger generation in Spain aren’t highly religious. While most had a Catholic upbringing, including the all-important first communion, and if married, a Catholic ceremony in The Church, you won’t see anyone younger than 60 in church most of the time. But of course, there are exceptions, not to mention the people of other religions living in Spain. Spain is also quite liberal for being a traditionally Catholic country, as abortion and gay marriage are both legal here, however Roman Catholicism no longer has official status by law.


Spanish people are very patriotic. ¡Vivá España!

Correction: Have you ever watched a F.C. Barcelona game on TV and seen someone in the crowd holding a “Catalunya is not Spain” sign? Well, I have. Spain is a wonderfully diverse country, featuring nearly 20 different provinces with unique food, cultures and even languages. Some provinces, like País Vasco and Catalunya oftentimes feel more strongly for their respective cultures than for the Spanish culture as a whole, and practice their region’s traditions and may even choose to speak the region’s language over Spanish. Read up on Franco’s dictatorship, and you’ll understand clearly why they’re so proud of their regional culture!


They only speak Spanish in Spain.

Correction: Spanish is the official language of Spain, but Euskera of Basque Country, Catalan/Valenciana, and Galician are co-official languages of Spain. If that wasn’t enough already, Asuturian and Aragonese are recognized as languages by Spain, and Leonese, Extremaduran and Fala are unofficial languages. Though most of the co-official, recognized and unofficial languages listed are more linguistically close to Spanish, Euskera, or Basque from the Basque Country in the north has no linguistic ties to any European language. For this reason, it is believed the Basques are the original Europeans, and though their language was threatened during the Franco dictatorship, has survived the test of time.