Thursday, 4 April 2013

A taste of Spain - buen apetito.

We didn’t know what to expect of Spanish food, our knowledge ran to paella and oranges before we arrived, as we got closer to arrival we realised we didn’t even know what sort of bread we would see.


The main meal of the day in Spain is lunch. Starting from 2pm a ‘normal’ lunchtime is a couple of hours, shops and businesses shut and school children all go home for lunch, apparently many adults will often return to their parent’s home to spend lunch together. A midday meal eaten out will often consist of 3-4 courses, usually two small mains and a dessert served with bread and wine from the menu del dia (menu of the day).
Meaty, tasty sausages.


We’ve had the chance to eat out a few times over the last few months enjoying sampling paellas, stews, ensalada (tasty salad), delicious chicken in sauce meals amongst others, we’ve also had pizza much to the boys delight as it takes too long to cook on the boat and they even talked us into visiting a certain popular American ‘resturant’. So we are enjoying the Spanish food and continue to try different things, not necessarily good for the waist line but certainly very nice.


Seafood is very important in this area and the base of many dishes it is possible to order something which when it arrives appears to be just a bowlful of tentacles! Sardine, urchin roe, razors, squid (especially using it’s ink as part of the dish) and octopus are popular and of course many varieties of paella. When cooked properly this has a lovely crumbly almost dry texture unlike its cousin risotto and huge chunks of meat, almost every area of Spain has it’s own version of this classic dish and it’s definitely one of my favourites.  


As for cooking at home we found a cool box which can be plugged into our electricity both offshore and shore side in France, it was good to have a fridge during the hotter months to save pouring the butter onto the bread and using a spoon for the cheese and means we can keep meat for a couple of days before cooking now. There are very few Asda/Tesco packages left in the stores now (excepting the all important and replenished by visitors teabags!) carrefore is currently the store of choice but it does change with each harbour, we seem to have an interesting multicultural mix of items.

A home made tentacled seafood delight.


Rabbit is easily found in butchers but the children were not keen to try eating cotton tail yet so we’re leaving that one for now but we did try horse which was very nice.  Chicken is less commonly sold and at a premium price when it is, beef and pork are readily available along with a huge variety of sausages and other pork products. I love seeing the strings of dry sausages and enormous cured ham legs hanging in the shops and they smell wonderful too.

Sausages and meat hanging in the butchers window.


A very Asturian stew is Fabada made using faba beans (only grown in Asturias), pork belly, blood sausage (morcilla) and chirizo. It has a very rich full flavour and is a wonderful winter dish, we tried a very nice restaurant one, some not so good cheap canned versions and found a recipe for home made which has been delicious each time. The beans are sold out of huge sacks lined up in the shops.

Home made Fabada.
We have tried empanada from various places. This is a pie with a savoury filling and a thick crust. Our favourite came from a market in Ribadesella and was stuffed with spicy chorizo, we also tried a tuna version from a supermarket and promised the boys we would never buy another one as none of us liked it.


Cakes and pastries are something to really celebrate in Asturias, in Gijon alone the variety of pananderias is amazing, every window is crowded with delicious looking treats and many cakes are highly decorated. Marzipan often features heavily in these confections, a hangover from the time that most of Spain (although not Asturias) was ruled by the Moors. Another type of pastry is the Casadielles, a deep fried tart which is filled with walnut paste which glues to the top of your mouth, then there are Polvorones, biscuits which crumble as you eat them leaving a cinnamon flavour. And of course there are churros, a cross between a donut and a pancake traditionally eaten dipped in thick hot chocolate – delicious.


Of course to wash it all down are the local specialities sidra (cider) and Rioja (red wine) which we have tried a few of during our stay. We hope that there will be many more mouth-watering treats to come in the months ahead, we’ve had to dig out the running shoes after so many delights!  Salud.



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