Tag Archives: Spain

You gotta do what you gotta do (food edition)

28 Feb

Alfonso was terrified. 

The king was at his inn. His inn! Alfonso’s hand shook a bit as he poured his homemade sherry into a mug. After all, it’s not every day that you serve royalty. He took a moment to compose himself. There was no reason to worry – after all, he made the best sherry in Spain! 

With renewed enthusiasm, Alfonso grabbed the sherry and headed out of the kitchen. Suddenly the door blew open and his heart plummeted. The lovely Spanish breeze had turned into a gusty wind that was whipping about the inn, also bringing wafts of leaves and dirt. Even the best sherry tastes like dirt when there’s dirt in it.

Then he saw it – the piece of ham left over from breakfast. Would it…could he…?

He did. So the legend goes, the innkeeper protected the sherry with una tapa de jamón (a lid of ham), and the king liked the idea so much that the ham started a tradition that still lives today. Tapas!

Nowadays in Spain, tapas are appetizers, not lids for your drink. But you can enjoy them with your drink as small snacks at a bar or eaten one after another to make a meal.

I want to go to Spain. I know, abrupt topic change! But I think after hours and hours of Spanish homework, I deserve to go to Spain and dine on tapas (and sherry 😉 ). So I’m practicing for when I go, making tapas between filling out papers in the past present subjunctive of Spanish. Always sticking to what the Almighty Internet calls traditional Spanish fare, of course.


Apparently when it’s between eating food hot or getting a good picture…the former is more important to me 😉

Here’s what you see: greens with grilled goat cheese* and vinaigrette; Spanish rice; marinated artichoke; and eggplant fritters drizzled with honey.

It’s all appears terribly unappetizing and suspicious, but dang, it was all pretty tasty! It was also pretty stressful, because I have a habit of overestimating my cooking skills (sure, I can stir that and mix that and cut those up at the same time!) and that little plate of tapas was a lot of work. But the satisfaction of eating a yummy meal you worked hard to make is worth it.

Thanks, Alfonso. You’re the best!

*goat cheese might actually be half baked/melted, because it was freezing outside where the grill was. No tengo vergüenza de él.

Visiting Morocco through tagine

23 Feb

No forks today! In Morocco, you use your bread to scoop the tagine into your mouth.

At first glance, Morocco has it all: bustling cities, exotic beaches, lush mountains and scenic deserts. It encompasses the exoticness of Africa while being just a short ferry ride away from Spain.

For the art and culture lovers, there are museums and festivals, as well as unique architecture. The architecture is predominately Islamic, but heavy Spanish influences make for a unique blend.

For those in need of relaxation, there are spas that include unusual treatments like sand baths. Or if you’re not willing to be buried to the neck in sand, you could visit a hammam (public bathhouse).

For you adventurers, you can try hiking mountains, surfing the ocean waves, or exploring the scenic deserts. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride a camel in the Sahara desert?

For the foodies (like me!), there are all sorts of delicacies to enjoy. Moroccan cuisine was built around its natural resources and so relies heavily on olive oil and spices.  The dish I made this week, tagine, was actually named for the heavy clay pot in which it is traditionally made. Tagines are often painted with beautiful designs that making serving it as visually pleasing as it is pleasing to eat.

When I started making my tagine, I knew it was going to be good simply because of the amount of spices for which it called. For me, the spicier, the better! This recipe requires a staggering 12 spices! A couple of them are relatively unknown, like saffron, coriander and tumeric. This got me excited, and I might have dumped too much in, but it turned out pretty good nonetheless!

All the spices waiting to be rolled in pieces of chicken

This whole meal was more involved than any other I’ve made in a while. The hobz bread required kneading, rising and baking. The recipe even requested for “resting time.” Oh, sorry to wake you, bread, but dinner’s got to come sometime! The meat required marinating and then slowly cooking for hours. It was great fun to make, though. It’s not that often, after all, that you get to eat your main dish with your side dish – no forks allowed!

Which kind of tourist are you? Art lover, relaxer, adventurer, foodie or a combination of the above?

(Recipes used: Tagine & Bread)