Tapas and Tinto: Some Words on Spanish Cuisine

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Well hello, Wright-Time-for-a-Schnackers! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here, I’ll admit– but worry not, I have certainly not abandoned our beloved food blog. I’ve been quite busy, living in the incredible city of Madrid for the past month and a half, sampling some of the varied, incomparably delicious cuisine that España is known for.

some Spanish olives, a typical tapa

Spain is known for its tapas: small servings of savory food, usually served with drinks at a bar. Apparently, they originated a long time ago, when a past king of Spain realized that drunken buffoonery was reduced if alcohol consumers ate with their booze, and so ordered some of the bars in Spain to begin serving a small portion of food with each drink a customer ordered.

one of the amazing restaurants I’ve visited. the bread was still warm. mmm.

Now, Madrid has a raging tapas scene, though they are not quite so commonly served free with the drinks you order (if you do, the drinks will be much more expensive, anyways.) A typical tapa would be a crusty slice of baguette topped with some ham (Spaniards LOVE their ham) and olive oil, or perhaps a small, greasily delicious empanada. Fruits and veggies are not usually served raw here (how I miss my mom’s giant salads!) but the deliciousness of the dishes they serve instead more than makes up for it.

okay, so this was technically French-style cuisine, but seeing as this crepe was consumed in Spain it counts, right?

The ever-present ham is certainly a staple for Spaniards, but I’ve sampled a variety of their other signature dishes as well. My favorite thus far has been croquettes, small fried balls of bechamel white sauce, peppered with ham and swirled with cheese. They’re basically little deep-fried bombs of creamy, tangy deliciousness. Another favorite is paella, the classic Spanish savory rice dish. And the churros con chocolate. And the coffee here is amazing. AND OKAY LET’S JUST FACE IT I’ve been spending all my money on food because I can’t stop eating everything Madrid has to offer me.

churros and chocolate- essentially the most delicious thing ever.

Spanish meals are served significantly later than American meals–lunch is typically at about 2-3pm, dinner at about 9-10pm. It took a bit to get used to, but now that I have it makes lots of sense. Everything is adjusted here to the thriving nightlife of Spain, so all events, from club openings to meals to store hours are pushed back to accommodate.

coffee and a veggie croissant at a retro café in an extremely hipster neighborhood

Some of my newly acquired friends and I have started a “Tapas Tuesday” lunch club kind of tradition every week, where we go out and dine at a reasonably-priced, highly-rated restaurant in the city. Every week I think the restaurant won’t top the food from the week before, and every week it does. Today’s was especially delightful. Good food and good company can do wonders to one’s happiness level.

the best gazpacho I’ve ever eaten

I apologize for the not-quite-as-stellar pictures, but unfortunately dimly-lit restaurants and iPhone cameras are sometimes not the most flattering for the dishes. I assure you, they lack in photographability what they make up for in deliciousness.

a giant pan of paella

I hope you enjoy hearing about/observing the photos of the international eateries I’ve experienced. One final disclaimer: All of the food in this post was eventually consumed by me, but none of it was made by me– excepting the very last photo, an extremely high-class and gastronomically advanced concoction created by my lovable 13-year-old host sister and I.

Yeah, it’s a cookie monster cupcake. And it’s fantastic. Like I said–the height of gastronomical class.

Adios, and gracias for reading!

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