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Food tour around the Iberian Peninsula

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Offline Technopat

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« on: March 20, 2007, 02:55 AM »
Can't remember how it cropped up, but seem to remember someone, somewhere mentioning food, recipes, etc. on this Iberianature Forum. Simon kindly treated us all, figuratively speaking, to a mouth-watering description of what is what in his part of the world.

I had originally intended to swamp or spam you all with 'shroom recipes, but given the almost, but not quite, total lack of interest for the food of the gods, I'll save fungi for a rainy day, well, for the day after it rains, to be more precise.

Changing tack, I thought I might set the ball rolling by starting off top left (Galicia) and heading off clockwise. Chose Galicia for the simple nostalgic reason of it being my first contact with the Forum, thanx to a reference to pimientos de Padrón by Francis Barrett on the Iberianature web site. Like Sue's national and natural parks, this is an ongoing project, and I hope you'll all be forthcoming with your own input, comments, recipes, etc.

When Spaniards think of Galicia in terms of food, they automatically think shellfish, a list of which reads almost like the ABC of a mariscada: thus, we can enjoy almejas (clams), berberechos (cockles), bogavantes (lobsters), centollas (spider crabs), langostas (rock lobsters), mejillones (mussels), nécoras (small crabs), ostras (oysters), percebes (goose barnacles) - see Francis Barrett's interesting article http://www.iberianature.com/material/barnacles.htm - , and finally, the very symbol of Galicia - vieiras (scallops).

The above list necessarily excludes fish and a whole range of local names for other weird things in shells.
 
Special mention, however, at least in my book, goes to pulpo (octopus). I must confess that I had for many years considered it a vastly overrated dish - Spanish friends forever taking me to successive places where they served "the best pulpo in town" and having to chew my way through the slightly-to-very-rubbery blubbery flesh, texture merely depending on how lucky I was that day.

And then my brother-in-law married a young lady from Galicia and his mother-in-law had prepared some 20 kilos of the stuff for the banquet in the garden. Out of pure courtesy I took a forkful of the stuff when she shoved the wooden platter in my face, and it was a turning point in my gastronomic experience. For those of you who have yet to experience it, I can assure you that a well-prepared pulpo is the tenderest of meats. In those days, everyone had their own folk version as to the best way of preparing it so as to ensure tenderness (I'll spare you the details).

But my mother-in-law-by-marriage insisted that the only way to guarantee results was by freezing the pulpo. This has since become standard practice and it is now possible to enjoy a decent-to-excellent pulpo a la feira (served with cachelos - thickly sliced, boiled potatoes - and sprinkled with paprika, coarse sea salt and streams of olive oil) in many places.

Climate, together with natural resources, indubitably plays a major role in a country's natural choice of diet. Damp, cold Galicia is no exception and the potato mentioned above is another example of the produce of the land. Normally boiled, it is an essential part of most Galician dishes: pote gallego, a stew made with pork, chicken, chorizo, panceta (thick, fatty slices of bacon) and potatoes, among other ingredients.

Cachelos also typically accompany lacón con grelos - boiled ham (front legs of pork) and tender turnip shoots/leaves.

And then we come to the empanada gallega, a simple flat pie which can be stuffed with, typically, pisto (Spanish ratatouille), tuna or meat, or cockles, or just about anything that can be mixed with Spain's omnipresent and delicious sofrito, a base of lightly fried onions, green peppers and tomato, which ensures that the pie is never dry. Can even be stuffed with lamprey.

And while we're on the subject of the lightly-fried, don't forget the pimientos de Padrón - "unos pican e outros non", also served sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

And then there's xouvas (sardines), cazola de fabias (beans) cordeiras con chipiróns, and caldereta and ...

All of the above can, of course, be "washed down" with any of the five Denominaciones de Origen that Galicia boasts: Ribeiro (which Alfonso X 'The Wise' referred to as "bon viño d´Ourense"), Valdeorras, Rí­as Baixas (typically the Albariño), Ribeira Sacra and Monterrey. Although almost exclusively known for their white wines, each of the above also produces red wines.

And then it's postre time:

Queso fresco gallego, filloas - pancakes stuffed with honey, sugar, custard or jam, and the typical tarta de Santiago - a dry cake made with almonds.

All of which we might wish to round off with a queimada, a strong spirit poured into a large shallow clay dish and to which is added loads of white sugar, some lemon peel and half a dozen grains of coffee. The whole lot is then set alight, and kept alight by stirring slowly till the blue flames die, suggesting that the alcohol content has been reduced to a minimum. Tourism obliges an incantation to be made during the ritual to protect those present from the meigas, Galicia's homegrown witches: one doesn't of course normally believe in such folkloric twaddle, but as they say "No creo en las meigas, pero haberlas, haylas".

What else is there to add? I know I've missed out stuff that'll come back to haunt me once So-and-So, who's married to a Galician and who's been living in G. for twenty years, gets wind of this. But that's what the Forum is all about, innit? Everyone chipping in. So, that's it for now -  "Bo proveito"!

Cheers!
Technopat
« Last Edit: June 12, 2007, 16:01 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Dave

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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2007, 20:19 PM »
Dear All
Sorry I am decorating at the moment, but I will be back with Leons contribution as soon as possible
regards
Dave

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2007, 13:50 PM »
Greetings Dave,
So I'll skip Leon and go for Asturias, shall I?
Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Dave

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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2007, 16:21 PM »
Hi technopat
No, go for Leon, if i think anything is missing I can always join in
Regards
Dave

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2007, 01:16 AM »
Greetings All,
This was meant to have been posted before Nick went off on his hols. to Asturias, but I made a change in chronology and got carried away with the Cabrales, i.e. I plain forgot. And now I see that Nick has had to use up valuable fingertip energy writing his own account whereas I had intended to have a little chastening chat with him for not doing his homework and using this great iberianatureforum to gen up on stuff written by us eager iberianatureforumers. Mud on my face, for a change. Be that as it m., what's done is done and there's no use crying over spilt milk (Sp. anyone?), so here goes (what's duplicated from Nick's article will help reinforce those words you are still learning and if there's anything that either of us has missed out on ...):

Food in Asturias

Foreword as in you are forewarned - the following contains far fewer translated terms than the previous article on food in Galicia, in part, 'cos many of the words should now be familiar to us all and in part 'cos ... well, I leave it to your imagination. The terms in italics are the Asturian ones, the Spanish translation I've left in normal type, as I'm taking it for granted you'll take 'em in your stride  :dancing:

Moving eastward (or more correctly, clockwise) along the coast from Galicia, and crossing the estuary of the River Eo at the Ría de Ribadeo, also known to the Asturians as the Ría del Eo, Asturias is on a par (at least) with Galicia in its reputation for its high quality raw material and good eating. El Principado de Asturias (10,565 Km2) has over 300 kilometres of coastline, less rugged than that of Galicia, known as la Costa Verde, the Green Coast.

Given the overwhelming influence of the sea, not only on Galicia, as we have already seen in the previous article, but also on Asturias, and indeed the whole Iberian Peninsula, we must necessarily start with seafood (actually, it’s only a subtle machine or device to turn everyone’s attention to one of iberianatureforum’s most interesting, scientific and yet engagingly informative threads - : Wot no sealife?, as a major feature on the menu, with shellfish and fish dishes based on locally-caught produce from the Cantabrian Sea and rivers flowing into it.

Once again, the list of frutos del mar is long and varied enough to almost use up the whole alphabet (in fact even more so than the Galician version!): andariques / andaricas (nécoras); angula invernal; bocarte u hombrín, (anchoa or boquerón); boroñón (buey de mar); bugre (bogavante); calamar y chipirones veraniegos; centollu; chopa (sargo); chicharros (jureles); cigalas; congrio; faragaña (lubina pequeña); golondru (bejel or rubio); lenguados; llámpares - lapas; lubricante (bogavante); merluza del pinchu (de anzuelo); mero; oricios (oriciu – in Gijón) (erizos de mar); panchín (besugo joven); parrocha or parrochina (small sardine); percebes; pixín (rape); pulpo de pedréu (roquedo); quisquillas (camarones); robayiza – (lubina más grande); rodaballo; ñocla (buey de mar); salmonetes; santiaguinos (cigarras de mar, "torpedos" in other regions); tiñosu (cabracho - scorpion fish); xargu (sargo); yocántaru – (bogavante).

All the above typically grilled, a la plancha or included in seafood stews (calderetas) made with potatoes and rock fish such as tiñosu or golondru (see above), but also with hake and conger eel, in paellas, fabes con almejes, crema de andariques. Or pulpu con patatines. The variations are infinite.

And from March to July, fresh salmon and trout abound as fishing is widespread on Asturias’ rivers, the largest of which are the Sella, Cares, Eo, Narcea, Nalón and Navia.

Typical starters or tapas are oricios - both raw and cooked - served as paté, in scrambled eggs or tortilla (their high content in iodine is said to strengthen the body for the winter months); or llámpares – lapas; or stuffed onions. And while we’re in winter, angulas, also in scrambled eggs.

Soups (hen, picadillo, liver) and stews with vegetables, pulses and potatoes accompanied with meat or cold meats - morcilla, emberzaos; or the typical Asturian bread made from corn flour, the boroña, which when stuffed with chorizo, etc., becomes boroña preñao, or the similar bollu preñáu. Geddit? In fact it’s similar to our “pigs in a blanket”, which is basically just what is now called a hot dog.

Then, as main courses, there’s the omnipresent cachopo – a sort of sandwich which instead of bread uses two steaks and with ham, cheese, asparragus, aubergines, etc. in the middle; carne gobernada - slowly braised beef, el chosco – beef stuffed with pig’s tongue marinated in paprika; fariñona - chopped chorizo, tocino, lard, flour, beaten egg, laurel, blood, onion, oregano and paprika stuffed inside pigs’ intestines; chuletón de carne roxa a la brasa (charcoal grilled veal); roast lamb; or the pitu'caleya – free-range red meat chickens; los callos a la asturiana – with the cows’ hooves, pigs’ trotters and morros; el pantruque (yet another kind of chorizo), for preparing alubias a la llanisca, la fabada del concejo, and here we’ve reached the plato fuerte – la fabada – main ingredient, les fabes, can be accompanied by just about everything: gallina (hen); perdiz (partridge), fabes con arcea, with rabbit or hare.

In fact, the compangu means just that: what goes with (accompanies) the main course, or the fabada or the emberzaos (pork lard with cabbage, morcilla and other cold meats stewed, also known as emberzaos probes.

The compangu, based on pork (gochu), consists of chorizo asturiano (strong, smoked), morcielles, or the similar moscancia, lacón – boiled ham, butiellu (similar to the botillo), la fariñona, etc..

Likewise, the adobu or fresh meat. While on the subject of fresh meat, Asturians are proud of their Asturian veal - carne roxa.

Inland there is also a tradition of both small and large game included on the menu. Other foodstuff from the green interior: Pote de castañas (chestnuts). And the wild mushrooms: senderuelas, or the seta de cardo.

Desserts and sweet things
For the llambiones – translated variously as greedy pigs or “the sweet-toothed among us”, there’s arroz con leche (rice pudding), almost a national dish along with the fabada; les casadielles – small fried or baked pies stuffed with a mixture of nuts (mashed almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts) and sugar with aniseed licqueur; los frixuelos – extra thin pancakes made with milk, flour, eggs and cinnamon; las marañuelas –rock hard biscuits made with egg yolk; la venera de Navia –ground almonds, eggs and sugar; los suspiros de Pajares –made with butter and sugar mixed with egg and flour and baked slowly; los bartolos de Laviana –pastry stuffed with almonds; los carajitos –dark biscuits made from ground walnuts or hazelnuts, sugar and eggs; los picatostes – the typical carnaval torrijas; los carbayones – stuffed with ground almonds and egg yolk; the typical almond cake from Gijón; and finally, la charlota – a cake filled with cream, eggs, sugar and covered with more sugar and cream – sweet enough for you?

Cheeses: apart from the omnipresent Cabráles (subject of a previous monograph), there are around 40 other traditionally-made cheeses in Asturias. For those of us that like/love/adore cheese, there’s no need to go into more detail. And for those of you who don’t, ...

The national (complicated word to use correctly here in Spain) drink - or possibly, the drink most people associate with Asturias - being sidra (the subject of its own forthcoming monograph), until recently Asturias had no need for a denominación for wine. Although D.O. Cangas has recently entered the fray, this particular lover of Asturias does not dare ask the locals as to their opinion of it, or indeed, whether they have even tried it!

There are two kinds of sidra: sidra and sidra natural: the basic difference is that whereas the former may have up to 80 grammes of sweetener added per litre, the sidra natural cannot have any sugar added whatsoever. As you will have seen if you’ve already visited Asturias, pouring the stuff is a messy business - and for those of you who have yet to have the pleasure, basically, you have to lift the bottle high above your head while lowering the glass as far down as possible in order for the sidra to drop as great a distance as possible into the glass. AS I said, messy. But luckily, for the less intrepid of us, it’s perfectly legitimate to request the waiters to pour - (escancear or echar) - it for you. Even self-respecting, table-thumping Asturians do so with no loss of face.

I'm off - Asturias, Patria Querida is calling me ...
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2009, 18:57 PM »
Greetings All,
My original idea of going clockwise round Spain for this thread didn't quite work out as I've just got back from Menorca (Minorca to you Brits) having avoided the Bob's Basque Country (subtle hint) and Nick, Lucy & Simon's Catalunya, both regions which are in the mind-blowing category of cooking culture.

However, Menorca shares a language with the Catalans, so while I pride myself on being able to understand, to a certain degree, spoken Catalan, I was interested to discover that, excepting the odd couple of words spoken in context, I was unable to understand the Menorcan variant and everyone, literally everyone, young and old, we met spoke to us in that language first until they realised that we were Castilian-Spanish speakers. No big deal - I suppose they depend so much on tourism that they take these things in their stride.

That said, and I shall repeat it when I get round to writing up me trip report, on all me travels around Spain, I have experienced good, bad and indifferent treatment as a guiri. On Menorca, everyone, and I mean everyone, out in th ecountry and iin the towns, was extremely friendly and helpful - and more to the point, delighted in explaining and recommending places to visit and things to eat on the island.

But letting meself be led off the beaten track/side-tracked again. This posting is about food, so 'ere goes:

Typical dishes include, inevitably for an island, seafood, and feature the cabracho “cap roig” (scorpionfish); salmonetes (red mullet), mero (grouper), squid, octopus, cuttlefish, prawns and large clams, curiously named  escupiñas (which I imagine refers to their bivalvular condition) and the omnipresent lobster-based stew, caldereta.

The local inhabitants are also very proud of their locally-grown produce, and stuffed aubergines, the name of which has slipped me mind, are delicious, and the cold salad, tumbet, made of potato, aubergines and red & green peppers, garlic & tomato sauce. Oliagio, a sofrito of tomato, garlic and green peppers, which can accompany anything from melon to figs.

Another traditional dish, the curiously-named arrós de la terra, ‘cos it doesn’t contain arroz, as might be expected, made from toasted wheat, a variety of cold meats, boniato (sweet potato), garlic and tomato.

Cold meats abound, especially sobreasada, but also carn i xulla and camot and are eaten raw, fried, in stews, as croquettes and baked.

Another delicious dish was les pilotes (meatballs in almond sauce). And then there’s partridge with cabbage and rabbit with almond sauce.

And to round it off, my personal favourite is the queso Mahón-Menorca (with DO since 1985) with quince. When tierno, it is smooth, buttery and slightly acidic. Semicurado is also buttery and with a distinct taste of hazelnuts (I forgot to enquire whether hazelnuts were island-grown, but I don’t remember seeing the trees). And the one I could never have enough of, the curado (+5 months), brittle and flaky. The characteristic orangey rind is the result of oil and pimentón being spread over the cheese forms.

Sweet things include the ensaimada, which when fresh is out-of-this-world (don’t make the mistake of buying a last-minute one at the airport) and which can be eaten sin relleno, or stuffed with cream, cabello de ángel or chocolate. We found, surprisingly, that it seemed fresher when buying it in bars or cake shops as individual portions rather than as a whole piece.

And last, but not least, there is a local DO for wine, “vi de la terra illa de Menorca”, but I didn’t get round to tasting it. It’s on me to-do list, as the combination of terroir and sea breeze/wind should make for an interesting little tipple.

All good simple fare, but the locally grown produce makes all the diff. I'm sure I've forgotten summat, but there's enough there for your mouths to water :technodevil:

Been-back-'ome-less-than-a-week-and-can't-wait-to-return-to-Menorca regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266