Spanish Cuisine

26 Jan

Alright, so despite the great title this post is actually “Michelle’s take on Sevillan food from the viewpoint of staying with a housemother and being a student who enjoys experimenting”, but yeah, that’s a little long, so you get “Spanish Cuisine” instead. Now I’ve been in Sevilla since late August which means…hmm, let me think…dang, I’ve been here only 5 months (feels more like 7, but oh well). My first four months or so were spent in the death grip of a seventy-some year old Spanish woman named Maruja. One of her few redeeming qualities was her ability to cook.

Before coming to Spain I wasn’t a terribly picky eater (my mom will undoubtedly object, recalling my childhood obsession with eggs and mac and cheese), but I definitely had certain likes and dislikes (really, don’t we all?). One of the million rules that our program told us (but actually an important one) was that we should never refuse to eat anything without first trying it. So, instead of freakin’ out every time something was placed on my plate that still had the eyeballs attached or resembled green algae I would exercise iron control and force myself to try it. Of course, I think that is a great rule as too often we pass up wonderful culinary delights because of their less than appealing appearance (say that five times fast). However, my housemother not only expected me to try everything but to eat everything. In fact, the only time I didn’t have to eat everything was when she made a potato soup that somehow became filled with throat-piercing fishbones. Although, she still tried to make me eat it for the first 5 minutes or so after which we were going to have a throwdown match if she didn’t relent.

Well, anyway the point of all this is that since I’ve come to Sevilla I’ve grown to love the Spanish cuisine: everything from morcilla (Spanish blood sausage) to lentils to olives (hated them back in the States) to those funny looking things with the eyeballs. The Spanish cuisine seems to place a lot more emphasis on the food itself and its inherent qualities rather than on masking the taste with overwhelming sauces and herbs (of course there are a few great exceptions). The only thing I don’t like about the food is the tendency to fry everything. My own housemother didn’t do that much, but whenever we go out for tapas (which I am a huge fan of) at least half the menu is different types of fried fish. Why I ask you, why? This wonderful peninsula is practically swimming in varieties of fish and yet they decide to destroy all of that lovely potential by frying everything in disturbing amounts of olive oil. But beyond this absurdity lies a great culinary tradition. The greatest thing so far that I have grown to love here is a delicious potato salad that my host-mother used to serve every once in a while. It’s made from potatoes, olives, tomatoes, onions, tuna, olive oil, and vinegar. You would be shocked to taste how well these all compliment each other. I was extremely surprised to find how much I enjoyed it considering I never liked potatoes (except in the form of french fries, claro), olives, or tuna. Now however, it is without a doubt my favorite Spanish recipe. Except perhaps for the amazing tapas I “created” – a combination of toasted bread, tuna, sweet red peppers, and green olives. It’s absolutely amazing and I definitely need to stop eating it so much. I went through three jars of red peppers last week alone.

Well, I’d love to keep writing but my chicken is going to catch on fire if I don’t grab it. Hasta luego y buen provecho!

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