Tag Archives: tapas

Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now

So yesterday marked my last day in Europe. I’ll miss being there, but I really couldn’t wait to see everyone at home and turn my phone off airplane mode (in that order, I promise).

My friends and I basically spent the whole day reflecting on what an incredible, life-changing experience this has been and how lucky we are to have gotten it. I could go on and on about all the things I’ve learned about myself since coming to Ireland, but that’s not what this blog is about. Instead, I want to impress all of you with all of the things I will willingly eat entire plates of now that I’m such a big girl. And if you don’t believe me you can ask my suite mates–they’ve seen me eat this stuff with their own eyes!

So last weekend a couple of us went to Spain where we stayed with a family one of my friends knew. That means I automatically had to eat whatever they gave us because they were being so nice letting us use their apartment and I couldn’t be rude or high-maintenance. Believe me, this realization was very daunting to me.

Our first day there we had the biggest plate of seafood paella I’ve ever seen. I had tried paella when I was in London (because obviously), but it didn’t have seafood in it, so this was very scary for me. I ate most of what was in it, and I can’t even confidently tell you what that was. I did start picking around the squishy stuff after awhile, but my friends can attest to the fact that I ate a full serving of seafood paella. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me.

Look at all that seafood

Look at all that seafood

During lunch we also had chipirones which are basically Spanish shrimp. They are slimy and squishy and a weird purplish-grey color. And I ate TWO! They didn’t have a very strong taste, so it was just the awful texture that I had to get over. To be honest, I think I only ate the second one so that I could write on my blog that I ate two.

So slimy. So squishy.

So slimy. So squishy.

For dessert we had ice cream with fresh strawberries and cinnamon. First thing, this ice cream wasn’t quite vanilla. I can’t remember what made it special but it was this very white, sweet ice cream. Second thing, do y’all remember my post about strawberries? I basically forced that little sliver down my throat. Well, I’m happy to report that I am a bona fide berry-eater now! Third thing, I ate my first bite of this dessert without the cinnamon because I was being ignorant. Once I put the cinnamon in everything changed. It was so delicious. I strongly suggest all of you put cinnamon in your vanilla ice cream. I know I just said whatever I ate wasn’t vanilla, but I’m sure the same principles apply. So yeah, do that.

The rest of the weekend consisted of mostly tapas. I tried lots of them when we were in Madrid (if you don’t know about that, you have been neglecting my blog and I’m mad at you). So this trip just confirmed that I will, in fact, eat these tapas and be very happy to do so. With everything from Spanish tortillas (which are my favorite, by the way) to more jamón Ibérico, I ate lots of tapas for the second or third time that four months ago, I wouldn’t have touched. Good job, me.

Side note: drink sangria de cava

Side note: drink sangria de cava

Conclusion: Besides all of the valuable life lessons and incredible experiences I’ve had in Europe, I’ve also gained a much more balanced and normal repertoire of foods that I will happily eat. At the beginning of the semester I titled my post about eating a strawberry “I’m Such a Big Girl” sarcastically. Today, I titled this post pretty sarcastically again, but also with a little bit of seriousness. I’m probably as big as a twelve-year-old now based on the foods that I’ll eat. And when you compare that to the three-year-old I was in January, I’ve really made a miraculous improvement.

Now that I’m home I will continue to keep this blog going due to popular demand (just kidding), but I’m making no promises that I will continue to improve at such a rapid rate. I spent the semester eating lots of new foods in quick succession. That’s very new for me. I have an excessively long summer break. There’s no need to overdo it too soon.

The Picky Eater Goes to Madrid

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.

Queso Manchego and the tapas with ham and shrimp

Queso Manchego and the tapas with ham and shrimp

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.

Melted cheese, hallelujah!

Melted cheese, Hallelujah!

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?

The Spanish tortilla and the tapa with tomato spread

The Spanish tortilla and the tapa with tomato spread | Props to my, girl, Kayla, for taking these photos

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.