Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Free range eggs in Spain

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

It is easier than it used to be to buy free-range eggs in urban areas in Spain. But beware of misleading bucolic pictures on egg cartons. Free-range eggs are often called huevos de granja (huevos de pagés in Catalonia) but if you don’t trust the seller, the best way is to check the first number of the codes on the eggs themselves:

0-hens raised outdoors ecologically

1-hens raised outdoors

2-barn-raised hens

3-battery-farmed hens

Climate change affecting wine in Spain

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Climate change is beginning to affect vineyards in Spain. The start of the grape harvest has moved forward 11 days in the last 20 years. This is increasingly seen as a major threat to the wine industry in Spain and elsewhere. According to the experts, until now the changes to grapes caused by higher temperatures (fruitier flavours, higher acidity and higher concentrations of alcohol) have generally had a positive impact on the taste of wines. But if temperatures keep rising in Spain, wines could soon taste very different, ruining some vintages.

Spanish food guide

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

With considerable help from my partner and lending heavily on the writings of Simon Rice and Francis Barrett I’ve been putting together this Spanish food guide. A better desciption though would be “food which is eaten in Spain”.

Photo of goose barnacles  

Early days and in truth, not quite a guide yet, but a bit more than a glossary. So far it has a Catalan bias which I intend to rectify over the next few months. Any mistakes, omissions or comments please let me know. Nick

Origin of escargot

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

Wikipedia tells me that Catalan is the origin of the French and posh English word for snail, escargot. This would be a corruption of “es cargol – the snail”, the es being the salat definite article still used in the Balearics and parts of the Costa Brava, once more widespread in Catalan and Gascon speaking areas.

Catalan snail eating

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Simon Rice has written for me this great guide to Catalan food. Here is on Catalan snails:

Cargols – snails: dozens of small snails are washed and arranged open side up in special tin trays, olive oil is drizzled over them and the whole baked over an open fire and served with alioli or romesco or both as a dip. This dish is called cargols a la llauna and is a speciality of Lleida province, as indeed are many more snail dishes. As the snails are easy to collect after rain and are freebies, something close to the Catalan heart, the whole thing soon becomes a party with whooping children running amuck in a collecting frenzy and Hey Presto! You have a cargolada ! NB the snails don’t have a chance to clean themselves, i.e. to empty their horrible little bowels, before their cremation, so there’s a knack to nibbling the ‘flesh’ of from the ‘gut’ which is left on the end of your picking stick – personally I find the whole thing disgusting! ”

Basque shepherds claim Idiazabal cheese under threat from wolves

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Shepherds in Alava, in the Basque Country have with remarkable hyperbole claimed that Idiazabal cheese, will disappear if a check is not put on wolves. Idiazabal is made with the Basque breed of latxa (lacha) sheep. Shepherds claim that the recent expansion of wolves in Alava is threatening their survival. (El Correo Digital)

lacha sheep A lacha sheep

Smoked with oak and beach, Idiazabal is one of my favourite Spanish cheeses, though I have many favourite Spanish cheeses. (more…)

Eating in Asturias

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I’ve put together this brief account of Asturian cuisine after a two-week trip in August 2007, during which I spent much of my time eating and then recovering from the copious dishes they serve. Read Eating guide to Asturias

Catalan sauces

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Simon Rice of the Iberianature forum and owner of this restored Casa Rabassaire has sent me a comprehesive guide to Catalan food. I’ll be posting this soon on the main site. Meanwhile, here’s Simon introducing Catalan sauces.

“Traditional Catalan cooking is often described as ‘Gothic’, which is just as well as some theorists claim that Catalonia itself descends from the word ‘Gothalonia’ or Land of the Goths. What this refers to, however, is that many Catalan dishes are based not only on old world ingredients, oil, garlic, wine, etc. but have a general gloomy ‘Gothic’ feel due to their dark brown appearance. This is due to the basic sauce element upon which many dishes are built. Indeed many dishes have an architectural quality as they are assembled by the addition of various combinations of pre-made sauces. So here we have the essential key to the cuisine: five sauces, a selection of which, having been made separately, are assembled in differing combinations to make a dish from ingredients indigenous to the region. In contrast, contemporary Catalan cuisine takes these themes and transforms them into culinary fantasies. While taking note of this, and the fact that Catalonia has more Michelin three starred restaurants than anywhere else in Spain, this guide concentrates on traditional aspects.”…

more soon

Triperias de León

Friday, July 27th, 2007

I was impressed by the idiosyncrasy and number of the triperias of the city of Leon on my last visit there. Everything you need to make a chorizo. All things pig.


Fotos de Triperias de León Leon Triperias, León Triperia

Guide to Catalan and Spanish food

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

I finally got round to posting Frances Barrett’s extremely entertaining writings on food.
Francis Barrett’s Deconstruction of Catalan and Spanish Food A Guide for Newcomers.

A couple extracts below:

  • Sitting in a scenic country spot with a glass of wine and watching Spanish family members preparing a paella over an open fire in a shallow pit is rather like attending a choreographed performance of gender roles; I suppose the same could be said about Americans or Australians or British or even Irish people at a barbecue.
  • Butter { mantequilla } is considered a strange thing to put on bread, but can also be bought with or without salt. Manteca means lard, which can be used for cooking but does not make a good spread. Margarine is sold in supermarkets, but I cannot imagine what sort of moron buys it. Mermelada means both marmalade and jam, and is commonly eaten at breakfast with croisans [croissants] (usually made with manteca rather than mantequilla , so not as nice as the French variety). If you want to see Spaniards go into total shock, give them some Marmite or Vegamite.
  • Â Cardes / cardos / thistles are not widely consumed in Catalunya, but are very popular in Navarra, where several of my friends come from. The stems have to be peeled and boiled for a very long time in salty water, but the result is very pleasant either on its own or in combination with peppered celery and / or broccoli. They have a high reputation as a heal-all, being supposed even to cure the plague. Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing contains the line: ‘Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus and lay it to your heart; it is the only thing for a qualm…. I mean plain Holy Thistle.’ This presumably refers to external application, but many older Spaniards regard thistle soup as medicinal in the same way as soup made from / ortigas / nettles and / dock leaves. Galicians also recommend Rubarbio / rhubarb for medicinal purposes but I’ve never heard anyone here enthuse about their granny’s rhubarb recipes, and Catalans seem to regard all these plants as only fit for donkeys