Posted by Julia Leef
By the time this article goes up on The Skidmore News website, you all will be back from vacation, getting back into the swing of classes and lining up for some D-Hall food (or ordering take-out, if you live in the apartments without the convenience of a full meal-plan).
Depending on where you go in Spain, the native food isn't that much different from American food. Like any country, Spain has regional recipes, but if I'm ever craving something American, there's a Burger King, McDonald's, and three or four American-themed restaurants within walking distance.
While the food itself may not be radically different from what I'm used to, the times and quantity of the meals are. Nearly three months into my study abroad experience, and I still don't think I've completely adjusted to the food schedule yet.
Breakfast in Spain is a small, individual affair. Most people only grab an apple or a piece of toast before heading off to work or school, and the commercialized "part of a complete breakfast" meals are atypical of the average Spanish household.
Lunch, however, which for many people in the United States is a considerably larger affair to get you through the rest of the day, is also a small meal. In fact, while "desayunar" (to eat breakfast) and "cenar" (to eat dinner) are common vocabulary terms, the verb "to eat lunch" (almorzar) is uncommon in everyday conversation. Instead, people simply say "comer" or "to eat," and lunch is referred to as "la comida."
However, this may be disputable. In doing some browsing online, I saw that lunch is actually considered the biggest meal in Spanish culture, with multiple courses followed by a siesta to sleep it off. While the siesta bit is true, in my experience I've found that lunch isn't really a huge meal, which may have to do in part with the changing times.
While traditional families would have set aside time in the workday for a big meal, I have observed that people nowadays are more occupied and scattered during the day, which makes a group, several hour-long meal impossible. At least, this is what I've seen in my time here, and it is very likely something that varies with each family.
For me, the hardest meal to get used to by far is dinner, mostly because Spaniards don't eat until 9 or 10 p.m.. This has been pretty difficult to adjust to, since I get hungry around 5 or 6 p.m. but still have hours ahead of me before I can eat. But when we finally eat, we eat.
Spaghetti, salads, sausage, bread and tortillas are not options, they're courses. I can barely get through two plates myself, but still my host mother insists, "come m??s! come m??s!" It's a good thing that dinner is a long affair for us, because I need time to digest before I can eat more.
In my time here, I've tried many new foods, and I'd like to share with you the recipe of one of my favorites: tortilla de patatas. If you're not a fan of meat, you can still enjoy this, although, considering people in Spain put meat, especially ham, in everything (I mean it, ask for a vegetable sandwich and you still get ham and tuna), it's pretty rare to find a vegetarian tortilla de patatas.
? 6-7 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
? 1 yellow onion
? 5-6 large eggs
? 2-3 cups of olive oil
1. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then slice these into thin strips. One-eighth of an inch is the optimal size for this recipe.
2. Peel and chop the onion into small pieces about a quarter of an inch. Mix these with the potato slices into a bowl and salt the mixture.
3. Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Place the potato-onion mixture in so that the oil almost covers it. If the potatoes start to burn, turn down the heat.
4. Once the potatoes and onions have fully cooked, remove them from the frying pan and let the oil drain away.
5. Crack the eggs into a larger bowl and whisk them together. Pour in the potatoes and onions and mix them thoroughly.
6. Pour one to two tablespoons of the olive oil into a frying pan (the size of which will determine the size of your tortilla, so a 9-10 inch pan is best) on medium heat. Pour the potatoes and onions into the pan and spread them out evenly.
7. When the mixture has browned on the bottom (the inside should not be completely cooked, like a pancake) flip it over to cook the other side. When it's ready, flip it onto a plate.
8. Put the frying pan back on the stove and pour in enough oil to cover the bottom and sides. Let it warm for approximately 30 seconds and slide the tortilla back into the frying pan and let it cook for three to four minutes. Then turn the heat off and let it sit for two more minutes.
This recipe creates six servings. Many Spanish bars will also serve the tortilla de patatas as part of the appetizers (tapas) in bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!
Julia Leef is a junior at Skidmore currently studying abroad in Spain. She worked for the Skidmore News as Editor in Chief in the fall and is a contributing columnist this semester.