After the exquisite lunchfeast in Toledo, I feel inspired to dabble in the realm of Spanish cuisine. My reasons for not doing so before are twofold:
1. In Thailand, it is a bit on the foolish side for a foreigner to cook any variety of Thai food at home – it’s quicker, cheaper, and likely more delicious to buy it from the street. This isn’t the case in Spain, and I’ve had to adjust my thinking.
2. I’ve never been impressed by tortilla española.
Eating with Alvaro is a beautiful reminder that there are many facets to every branch of cuisine, and that there is a whole host of very good reasons why Spanish food is currently so in vogue. Family-style dining is popular and fairly inexpensive if you manage it right, and the range of flavors is decent, especially when it comes to regional specialties.
Our unanimous favorite from Toledo is asadillo manchego, a cold tomato-based dish with hard-boiled eggs, salty fish, and piquillo peppers. It’s the natural sweetness of the peppers that catches the tongue off-guard; it pairs lovingly with the fruity overtones of olive oil.
It’s certainly not the most high-profile Spanish dish, which is perhaps what causes such difficulty in encountering a proper recipe online (the one I’ve linked insists on the use of something called a “Thermomix Varoma”…). We first find the dish lacking in acidity; a few squeezes of an unconventional lime help brighten the mix, but it’s still lacking in magic. We munch it regardless. Interestingly, after the few remaining bites have sat in their own juices for about thirty minutes, the flavors seem to have developed – most notably that of the dash of cumin. I’ll be trying this one again, next time preparing it in advance to see what happens.
I remember loving a rice dish my Valencian host made me a few years back that included the combination of garbanzo beans and raisins, which I never would have thought to put together. The internet informs me that arroz con pasas y garbanzos is well-known as a Valencian specialty. My version includes chicken, because everyone likes extra protein, and lacks colorante alimentario, because no thank you.