Saturday, November 17, 2012

Guest post! Gastronomía by Jennifer Brown

    I began my visit to Spain to see Sibley and Amanda familiar with tapas and sangria, but I can caption each sight with the local cuisine.  After a cross Atlantic flight, a metro ride and a long walk, I was delighted to find myself sitting between Amanda and Sibley at a Chocolateria in Alcala. We enjoyed cups of smooth, rich chocolate and a piping hot coffee con leche as well as churros which are denser than their Mexican counterparts. 
 My guides led me through 2 tours of Madrid.  Our most memorable Madrileno meal was a late lunch.  The waiter described a paella dish with carne (meat), pollo (chicken), mariscos (shellfish) and something else that we all missed. I knew that I needed to try authentic paella in Spain--the one word we missed was squid.  Hmmm, we all tried the squid and Amanda even enjoyed it. Dessert was included and I made a unilateral decision for FLAN.  It was an excellent choice.
  The host family was welcoming and friendly.  We had a mid-day meal of chicken with lemon salsa that surprised me with a pop of citrus! Clearly the girls are well fed with a mix of American fair—hotdogs with patatas and typical Spanish food--paella (without the squid.)
 As we travelled to Granada, the rows and miles of olive groves mesmerized.  These well-tended trees grew to the very edges of rocky hills of the Sierra Nevadas.  After seeing the Cathedral, we tried a tapas bar for pizza, but first we were treated to a plates of tapas with local olives.  The olives on each plate seemed to have a unique texture, taste and spice. 
  When I think of Cordoba, I will remember our evening meal in a fine restaurant near our lovely hotel in the San Basilio district of Cordoba. Adventuresome Amanda asked our waitress what “gulas” were.  The dish was “Gulas con patatas.” The waitress replied “little fish,” and that seemed to be the extent of her English.  Thinking fish and potatoes, Amanda ordered.  What appeared was more spaghetti-like than fish-like, but Amanda ate and Sibley and I tasted. Sibley and I also enjoyed Tinto de Verano which is what locals order in place of touristy “sangria.” Our waitress completed our meal with gratis dessert and sweet wine.

We checked the internet later and discovered that gulas are baby eels and considered quite a delicacy.  Perhaps it is better to not catch every word because I doubt that I would have chosen to eat baby eels, but I feel more intrepid having done so.    

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