dessert

Foods Spain Taught Me to Love

Moving to Spain has taught me a lot. It’s made me fluent in Spanish. I’ve learned how to navigate the metro system and bureaucracy. I’ve learned how to make foods I miss: crackers and peanut butter and Ranch dip. (Though I still long for bottled Ranch dressing and cottage cheese.) But more importantly, I’ve become a more-independent, self-assured person. I found my media naranja. I came to terms with just how important my home country is to me.

A lot of us experienced changes when we moved here. You feel me, auxiliares (and former auxiliares)? We learned just how little we knew about English grammar and Spanish slang. But we’ve also learned to love new foods. Thus, I asked some of you what foods you’ve learned to love since moving to Spain. Your answers were fun to read, and I’m listing them here.

Cat from Sunshine and Siestas: Snails

Eating Snails Spain Jerez

“So. Snails.

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The Zamoran Invasion

Mario called it The Zamoran Invasion. My friend’s Spanish husband referred to it as The Spanish Invasion. Whatever you want to call it, invasion or otherwise, it was definitely chaotic. But also fun. We showed our guests, my in-laws, quite a few places and events, all of which I’ll get around to discussing eventually, but for now I’d just like to list a few stray observations:

Shouting about green spaces

A Zamoran, invading

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Anniversary Dinner at Madrid’s Teatro Real

Madrid’s Teatro Real Restaurant was the perfect place for Mario and me to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Elegant, glamorous, and ethereally silent, this restaurant is located on the second floor of the royal theater and is itself decidedly royal.

The Teatro Real, or Royal Theater, was originally built in 1850 in front of the royal palace. It served as the city’s opera house and housed the Madrid Royal Conservatory until 1925. There were several periods of reconstruction, but the theater opened for good again 1997. It hosts opera, concerts, and ballet and is home to the Madrid Symphony Orchestra and Choir. Its many halls are decorated with works of art from the Prado and Reina Sofia museums.

Teatro Real Salón Naranja

The Salón Naranja is decorated with the portraits of Juan Carlos and Sofía

To enter the restaurant, you must walk through a few different salones, or rooms, all of which hhae a color theme.

Teatro Real Salón Verde

The restaurant itself is also magnificent. The starry ceiling replicates Madrid’s much-advertised cielo.

Teatro Real Restaurant Madrid

Source: Atrapalo

And although the restaurant has a capacity of 200, we were the only diners for a good hour! We ate early for Spain, at the elderly hour of 9 p.m.

We ordered the menú de degustación, which wasn’t really a tasting menu, but we got a good idea of what the restaurant does well. (Hint: most everything.)

To start we had a taco de salmón, with a bit of mustard and tarragon. I forgot to get a picture!

Teatro Real Restaurant Salmorejo

Next was perhaps my favorite plate of the night, salmorejo cordobés con virutas de jamón ibérico y huevo, salmorejo with shaved ham and egg . Salmorejo is a purée consisting of tomato, bread, oil, garlic, and vinegar, originating from Córdoba, Andalucía. This was breathtakingly good: creamy, tangy, and rich. The ham was obviously Iberian. I couldn’t stop telling Mario that I never wanted this dish to end!

Teatro Real Restaurant Esparragos

Next: espárragos blancos con huevo escalfado y aceite de piñones, white asparagus with poached egg and pine nut oil. There were also salmon eggs, perched atop. The egg itself was not salted, but once you bit into the salmon egg, it let out a perfectly juicy pop! of saltiness. The asparagus itself was perfectly cooked, and didn’t have the sometimes unpleasant texture of canned asparagus, which is a common dish in Spain.

Teatro Real Restaurant Fish

Now for the fish: corvina al horno con mejillones en salsa de coco y lima, oven-baked corvina with mussels in a coconut-lime sauce. The coconut and lime worked perfectly to complement the delicate taste of the corvina, and the onions were caramelized to perfection.

Teatro Real Restaurant Presa Ibérica

This dish was presa ibérica con mojo canario y patatitas confitadas, Iberian pork with Canarian mojo sauce and a caramelized potato.The meat was delicate, tender, and full of flavor, including thyme and sea salt. The mojo sauce went perfectly with the potato and the meat, giving it just a slight kick. After this dish, we were more than full. But there was still dessert …

Teatro Real Restaurant Dessert

Our dessert was light and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer’s day: piña colada en texturas, different textures of piña colada. There were dehydrated bits of sweet pineapple atop coconut cream with a pineapple sorbet underneath. Delicious!

Teatro Real Restaurant Chocolate Truffles

And lastly, just in case weren’t stuffed enough, they served us two decadent dark-chocolate truffles and candied orange peel. The chocolate was to’-die-for good, and the candied orange peel lent it just a hit of tartness and acidity.

All of this came with white wine to start and red to finish. The white was Fray Germán, a Verdejo, and the red was Ribera del Duero, Valdubón. The red was really quite full-bodied and rich, but as red-wine enthusiasts, we found it enjoyable.

Teatro Real Restaunt Couples

Here’s to one great year and many more! It was a meal worth repeating. (Next year, perhaps?)

No, Gracias—Spanish Foods I Dislike

Guys, I’m pretty obsessed with Spanish cuisine. Nothing gets my goat more than when guiris come here and declare the food to be bland. Oh no you didn’t, I want to shout at them while doing a dramatic z with my pointer finger. Insulting Spanish food is like insulting my suegra: I’m having none of it.

There are so many delicious things here, and they are not all terrible for you (another stupid myth!):

lentejas

  • lentejas (lentil stew, a.k.a. the bomb)

Cocido

  • cocido (healthy if you stay away from the tocino, a.k.a. fat)

By Valdavia (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

And of course my favorites: cheese, wine (remind me to tell you my favorite wines from Toro later!), chorizo, and salchichón! My in-laws make the last two, and if you haven’t had them … well, you haven’t had good chorizo or salchichón! It’s just the facts.

Buuuuut, let’s be real, there are some foods I don’t like. Yeah. It’s true. It’s true, and I said it. Not all Spanish food is to my liking. What are these foods, you ask? Why, let me tell you.

By Tamorlan (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Pulpo. Nope, I don’t like octopus and don’t tell me that I should, because the chewy texture just skeeves me out.

By Tamorlan (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Morro, oreja, callos. Not into organ meat, and I’m even less into eating pig’s snout. Oreja is really chewy and just thinking about it can give me the heebie jeebies. (I hope all Spaniards reading this are learning some new “words” today.)

By Tamorlan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Torreznos. What are they? They’re pieces of pig fat cut into strips and fried. Yum? Add to this varied fritanga, because it is way too fatty for my liking. Eating probably takes five days off my life.

By Javier Lastras from España/Spain (Flan de Turrón) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Flan. Not into that jiggling mess of a dessert.

By Lucía Domínguez (UED77)Lucía Domínguez (Own workOwn work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Aceitadas. Sadly, this is a typical dessert in Zamora, my favorite city in Spain, but I just don’t dig anise.

Aguardiente

  • Aguardiente. Not a food, but this liquor sets my insides on fire and tastes vile.

Which foods do you dislike in Spain? And if you say salchichón, I may cry. Tears of happiness. Because there’s more for me!