Alimentos Charla – When Food starts talking!

Posted by on Jul 21, 2010 in Culinary Journeys | 0 comments

Alimentos Charla – When Food starts talking!

“A beber y a tragar, que el mundo se va acabar” –

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow the world will end!

Can’t let go without writing about Spanish food. I have lived in America for a few years, and I have always almost had “Mexican” food. I’ve hardly heard anyone say “Hey! Let’s eat Spanish food tonight!” No, usually exotic tastes tend toward Mexican or Chinese or Lebanese or Italian or Ethiopian. Ok..maybe just a couple of restaurants here and there that serve the conspicuous ‘Tapas’.

I think there’s a reason for this. Spanish cuisine is different from just about anything else. It doesn’t have the flashy flavors of chili-peppers or the loud hint of cumin powder. It hasn’t been mainstreamed like pizza,gyros or burritos. Instead, Spanish food is infused with more subtle, more earthy flavors of olives and saffron. It is different, but oh, it is delicious.

Most of us know the Paella and the Tapas. I thankfully remember some more unconventional ones, thanks to the food-lover’s curiosity in me, and numerous conversations in broken Spanglish with locals in Andalusia! Here are my top-three:

Queso Manchego ( Sheep Cheese)

Every night before dinner, I would sit down with Kuki, watch the local “Alphabet Game” called ‘Pasapalabra’, while her Dad,Tehano would bring out a big wedge of queso manchego, a regional cheese made from the milk of sheep or goats. This nightly ritual is one of my favorite memories from my time with my host family and fittingly queso manchego is one of my favorite foods from Spain. You should visit Kuki’s house, when you get a chance.

Membrillo (Tart Quince Jelly)

There is only one way, in my mind, to improve on queso manchego and that, my friends, is membrillo. Basically, membrillo is a sort of quince jelly that is thicker than say, jello, but still not quite solid. It is a beautiful thing, especially when paired with cheese. I think it might be one of my all time favorite food combinations…

Jamon Iberico and Chorizo (Iberian Ham and Spicy Sausage)

Ham is Spain’s second religion (a little behind soccer but probably slightly ahead of Catholicism!); it is cherished as much as champagne is in France. The process for curing Iberian ham is a lengthy process that takes a couple of years. There are various grades of quality, the best being pata negra(black hoof) or de bellota, which is made from pigs that are reared on acorns.

Chorizo is a spicy sausage, either sliced thinly and served cold in a bread roll or cut into chunks and cooked in wine(al vino) or cider (a la sidra). Sometimes you will be served mini chorizos, called choricitos.I swear by pork,sometimes literally-so I couldn’t let this article pass without a mention of this.

My Andalusian nights would have never been the same without the kind hospitality of Kuki’s family, and the influence they have had in making me feel Spanish all over again. I’ll take you along if you want me to…Step here for Spain-ing Away!

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