I recently got back from spring break where I went to Madrid, Lisbon, and Copenhagen (yes, I do know that my life is awesome). I wanted to try at least one new thing in each place since I know I’ve kind of been slacking on this whole trying new foods thing for the last couple of weeks. Luckily, we ate gooood in Spain.
Our three days or so in Madrid consisted of a lot of tapas-eating and sangria-drinking. The tapas ranged from tostadas with cheese on them to more elaborate dishes like tortillas.
Queso Manchego was probably the most popular tapa in all of the restaurants where we ate. It was literally just a piece of toasted bread with some Manchego cheese on top and a drizzle of oil. It was good, but that is one simple signature dish. How did the Spaniards get away with that while the Italians have to slow roast garlic before putting it into a pot of tomato sauce to simmer all day while they roll out handmade pasta dough? The extra 45 seconds it would have taken to melt the cheese onto the bread would have made this dish a lot better, but whatever Spaniards, you do you.
Next was the variety of jamón (Spanish for “ham”) tapas that we ate. These mainly consisted of a crostini with some sort of cheese and a slice of jam on top. They were quite delicious. I was skeptical because that’s how I am with things that aren’t chicken or french fries, but this ham was way better than the stuff you get at the deli counter in the grocery store. Me gusta jamón. There was even one where the cheese was melted over the ham. It was perfect. It was like the chef had read my mind after eating the unmelted Queso Manchego and then made this tapa specifically for me. That was so nice of him. I love that guy.
On the same plate were some other crostinis, these ones with different toppings. I tried one with this thick shrimp spread over it because my friend said it was crab…people, man. It all worked out for the best, though, because the shrimp spread was actually pretty good. Another weird thing about my eating habits: I’ve eaten shrimp with garlic sauce at Chinese restaurants since I was a little kid, but I never eat shrimp in any other dish. I don’t know why, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that the Chinese restaurants cover it in sauce so I can’t see how shrimpy it looks. Yes, my condition is that serious. Well, anyway, thanks to my friend’s error, I tried shrimp in a different setting and found out that I don’t spontaneously combust upon consumption! Yay learning!
We had another tapa, but I can’t remember what it was called. It started with a piece of bread (are you seeing a trend here?) and had a tomato-based spread over it. It was kind of like pizza but without the cheese. It was decent. I ate it. But cheese, you know?
Lastly, we have the tortillas. In Spain, tortilla doesn’t refer to the wrap that we use for tacos and stuff. In this case, it was some combination of potatoes and eggs baked in a shallow, circular pan to make a kind of potato-ey pie. That was an awful explanation–the truth is I don’t really know what it was. The best way I can describe it is like a potato omelette. But it was good. And gooey. Which makes it seem gross. It kind of looked gross. But you knew I was going to like it at the mention of potato.
Overall, Spain gave me a chance to try a lot of new foods because we ate tapas for every meal–a lot of different small dishes. I’d say out of everywhere we went this break, I probably ate the best in Madrid. The bread, the cheese, the ham: yum. Oh God, and the churros! I almost forgot the churros! España, te quiero mucho.