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to be honest: this is not – in its exact formulation – among the top ten of the FAQ I get. I chose it as the first “Francisco Answers” post for a simple reason: I liked it.
First of all, I am afraid many of you have not had the pleasure of getting to know any of both “Siesta” or “Gazpacho”. A shame that we need to correct. Here come the definitions.
A cold soup made out of vegetables, most of it tomatoes. It contains also cucumber, pepers, onions, olive oil and of course garlic. I will not reveal all ingredients or details. Especially, I won’t reveal the secret recipe from my mother. Maybe in another ocassion. It is a traditional dish in Andalucía, especially popular in the long and warm summer season. Do not be surprised if you find small bits of vegetables or “croutons” (congratulations to my fellow Frenchman: They made it again, they managed to give an exquisit and unpronounceable name to a simple piece of bread cut in a cube). Find more about it in wikipedia, or even better, in a visit to Spain! Ah: don’t try to find my mothers recipe in Wikipedia. Won’t be that easy ;-)
One of our most successful panish exports. Rightly so. Also, one of the words that Spain has made universally understandable. It is a short nap (at least meant to be short ;-) in the early afternoon. As you know, we love to eat rich lunches. After a Spanish lunch, especially in many of the warmer months we enjoy, your body screams for a small rest. Give it to him! It is deserved. After all, you need to digest, realax and get ready for the rest of the day. Take a nap and then sip a “cafe cortado” (Please remind me that we need to talk about coffee on a separate post). Mi querida Wikipedia has a pretty good english definition of Siesta, which I recommend if you really want.
So what is the bottom line?
Quite simple. And this is one of the reasons why I liked the question: Honestly, why choose when you can have it all? Gazpacho is perfect in the summer, so is Siesta. My true recommendation is: Eat Gazpacho for lunch as a first dish. It will refresh and calm your appetite in the warm season. Have it along with a glass of “The Spanish Quarter” Chardonnay-Albariño, equally refreshing, crisp and tasteful. Once you finish lunch, have a Siesta. Make it a habit. 30 minutes. Believe me, once you start, you will love it. And pass it on! It is your mission. “Siestify” your environment a bit. Maybe this won’t help us making this a better planet, but definetly a little bit more relaxed…
O “Que aproveche”. Music to my ears! It is Spanish for “enjoy your meal”, or “bon appetit”, which has turned out to be the almost universal expresion.
When we don’t laugh or sing in Spain, it is often for one reason: our mouth is full. Which take us to
Reason Nr 3 for loving Spain: FOOD
A couple of our dishes have definetly made the round. “Paella” is probably the most famous one. No, it is not our national dish. As you probably know by now, Spain is a country full of nuances and differences. There is not one Spain, there are infinite Spains with lots in common.
But back to the kitchen. We have “Cocido Madrileño” in Madrid: heavy but delicious. “Fideua” in Cataluña: similar to paella, but with noodles and of course alioli. “Gazpacho” in Sevilla: a refreshing and actually quite light cold vegetable soup. “Rabas” in north Spain: one of the tastiest ways to prepare octopus.
We might have exported less dishes than the Italians (they managed to steal pasta from China and pizza from north Africa, but no one beats them at selling that stuff).
We might have less sophisticated dishes than the French (or at least less sophisticated sounding, since I believe one of the keys of success is to make a fish soup and call it “Vichisoise” or similar).
But Spain is the only country I can think of that has succesfully exported an eating philosphy: Tapas. You can read about it in an earlier post. Before you do so, I suggest you treat yourself to a glass of “The Spanish Quarter” or your favourite Spanish wine and enjoy the reading.
Today we talk about the meat. Let’s put some flesh to the bones of our little global culinary village.
I want to bring you a bit closer the king of all kings and non plus ultra of delicatessen. Yes: we are talking about Spanish ham. The one and only Jamon Iberico.
I like to think: It is not the pork, its what you make of it. Means: Of course all countries have their way of honoring the beatiful combination of hunger, talent, creativity and pork meat. But you can not beat Jamon Iberico (excusi cari amici Italiani).
Let’s revise briefly:
GERMANY: the most efficient. True. Kuddos to them: No other country in the world has more different variety of sausages and ways to prepare pork meat. They got it fully engeneered… Deserves recognition, sure. But non of their multiple creations can beat Jamon Iberico…
FRANCE: The most glamorous. Of course. Ces’t clair. Le France ces’t le France. Le grande nation. Sauchichonne, jambon, saucisse, boudin… Bonne. Sorry… You can not beat Jamon Iberico.
ENGLAND: you all knew this was going to be a short one…
ITALY: the best salesman. This is the toughest one. “Why Italians are better at selling” deserves an own post. Let me know if you are interested and I will do my best. But now in a nutshell: their parma ham is not bad. Sure: salchiche picante con pomodoro e pasta… Not bad. Mortadella… It all tastes great. And they know how to cut it, celebrate it, pack it (and -for God sake- how to price it. BUT: if you catch them in an honest moment they will recognize pressing between hard bitten teeth… “You-e can-e not-e beat-e Jamon-e Iberico”. (By the way: if you care and ask, I will be happy to explain-e why-e Italians-e hav-e to speak-e with-e an “-e” at the end of each word…e)
This one deserves an own post.
Easy. Think about it, enjoy global pork creations and come back soon. Or drop a question! You might get an answer mañana… While you wait, enjoy a glass of “The Spanish Quarter” Cabernet Tempranillo or your favourite Spanish wine.