Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spanish Reverie

Here's a little poem that's pretty obvious I just whipped up for you guys:

Ode to the Other Tortilla

It must be hard
To be a Tortilla Española.
People confuse you
with the kind made of lard-
like tortilla chips
served with tacos and a cola.

I’m sorry
For your identity crisis.

Oh, the humble yet deliciously satisfying Tortilla Española!

I know that it was only a few months ago that I was waxing poetic about these Flour Tortillas I had made, and trust me, you wont find a bigger fan of homemade tortillas east of the Mississippi. BUT I honestly can’t count the times I relied on the other tortilla - Tortilla Española, that is, and dios mio, is it a classic.

I first encountered this simple dish when I studied in Spain during the Spring of 2002. From the first day I arrived in Madrid (and immediately after Carlos, our program director, gave us dish suggestions to order at restaurants that first afternoon), the Tortilla Española was the one constant food that I returned to time and again. It was my first introduction to Spanish cuisine, and though humble compared to the glories of a good paella or gazpacho, its simplicity and adaptability made it perfect for everything from breakfast, lunch or dinner, to party food and a great sandwich.

From new year, new food

The best Tortilla Española I ever tried was in the small and crowded kitchen of our Spanish cooking instructor one chilly spring evening. About 10 of us students were gathered around the stove and watched in awe as she chopped, sautéed, and cooked, with a joie de vivre that pretty much lent her the title of the Spanish Julia Child in my mind. To this day, no Tortilla Española has ever compared to the one from that cozy Spanish kitchen, but darn it all if I’m not going to at least try to come close.

From new year, new food

Tortilla Española is a simple concept: basically it’s a Spanish egg frittata, filled with sautéed onions and potatoes, and can be served by itself in big slices, cubed up as a party appetizer, or, my second favorite way of eating it—tucked between two toasty sides of a baguette, a hearty sandwich that I ordered whenever I used to travel in Spain and was in need a good snack.

From new year, new food

Up close and blurrily personal

I love making frittatas for brunches and breakfasts, but for some reason had never tried my hand at my beloved Tortilla Española, but knew, as soon as my cast iron skillet arrived, that I’d found the perfect dish in which to cook it. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, simply take any skillet pan that you have, wrap the handle in a damp towel, and you can bake it in the oven, easy as pie. Easier, actually, than pie, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s also group-friendly (as evidenced by three friends that spontaneously came over the night I happened to make it, and who gave it a warm reception).

From new year, new food

Bienvenidos a los Estados Unidos, Tortilla Española! I hope I can perfect you and spread your Spanish love everywhere I go. Kind of like Johnny Appleseed and his apples, but more like Samantha Tortilla…which just doesn’t have the same ring to it, but you see where I’m going here.


DC said...

International adventures minus the LP...when is the 2nd making of it coming around??

MH said...

twas delish... btw thanks for the inclusion in ur blog!

Samantha said...

'tis coming soon, LP! and MH: you are allllways welcome to some tortilla and/or blog inclusion :)

Erin Skinner Cochran said...

i love caramelized onions! looks delish!