One of the cornerstones of Spanish culture is the food. If you know me, you know this is also one of the cornerstones of my existence! In the States I found that I enjoyed baking more so than cooking, but here in Spain I have grown fond of leisurely mornings in the kitchen trying new recipes. (That and the fact I don’t trust our oven enough to bake like I do at home).
A month or two ago I mentioned to one of the secretaries at school that I was dying to learn how to make the famous tortilla de patatas. Loli was the one that presented my housemates and I with a tortilla on the occasion of our Thanksgiving celebration, and has basically adopted us. So two weeks ago we left school together with eggs from the “school store” in hand and trekked back to her house in the pueblo. I love lunches with Loli and her family. Her two daughters (ages 8 and 10) speak English with us and her partner Pepé is quick to offer a drink. Hospitable moments like these in the middle of a foreign country make all the difference in the world.
This time we arrived with a mission: teach la Americana how to make a tortilla. Pepé cooked the potatoes before we arrived in an effort to save us some time (the girls were off to the dentist and I had to catch a bus back to Sevilla). Loli tied an apron on me and coached me through the process, the girls wandering around at my feet and poking their heads into the respective pots and bowls. When it came time to flip the tortilla, she did it with such ease that I thought maybe she should be teaching cooking classes somewhere. In reality, all Spanish women know how to do this. It’s as natural as slicing jamón or dancing Sevillanas.
Since there were five of us eating lunch, we had an 8 inch tortilla to grapple with, rather than the petite 6 inch one I would make later. When it was time to flip the tortilla yet again she gave me a sideways glance and raised an eyebrow: are you going to try this or what? So I did. I switched hands twice, claiming my left hand couldn’t handle the frying pan. Nervous – I flipped it, hoping like crazy in those long seconds that I wouldn’t let it splat on the floor / stove / somewhere other than the pan. Luckily it landed exactly where it was supposed to, and my audience and I smiled appreciatively.
We sat outside next to the pool and had lunch together at a picnic table under a fragrant orange tree. With the first sip of cold Cruzcampo I took a good look at my surroundings and had one of those Is this my life? moments. Our plates were full of fresh tomato slices, pieces of cheese and hunks of bread… and a tortilla that I helped to make. If that’s not a satisfying meal, I don’t know what is.
You can find a copy of Loli’s recipe here (English).