The Seville April Fair began yesterday with the ”noche del pescaíto” (which could be translated for “night of the little fish”), a name that refers to the customary dinner of this night, made of deep fried fish… The tradition of relating a particular lunch or dinner with a certain festivity or specific time of the year has brought to my mind unexpected childhood memories, when the passing of the seasons seemed to be marked by the different smells that deliciously wafted from the open kitchen window.
In Winter, my mom’s unbeatable paella included small bits of artichokes, that gave the rice- already colored by the saffron- an even darker shade and a distinctive rich flavour that was a delight to the palate. In Valencia, Fallas had the taste of sweet pumpkin fritters bought at street stands and eaten on the spot – each finger thoroughly licked after the feast to make the most of their delectable sweetness-. Easter had the unequivocal perfume of the cinnamon sprinkled “torrijas”, a yummy kind of french toast, made of bread imbibed in sweetened milk, deep fried, and coated in sugar and cinnamon. In Summer, we avidly drank ice cold horchata (tiger nut milk) with fartons (kind of biscuits), and had never ending arguments with the adults about how long we should wait before diving in the pool- those of us who were least lucky had to wait for two long hours before getting anywhere near the water – and by that time we were ravenous again!
Spanish Gastronomy is as diverse as its climate or its topography and each region can boast of having its own traditions regarding what to eat and what to drink at different times of the year. In Zamora, Easter Sunday is celebrated with a simple if mouthwatering dish of two fried eggs and two grilled slices of half cured ham (called “dos y pingada”, literally “two and a dip”). In Madrid, San Isidro cannot be conceived without its relishing “rosquillas”, a kind of doughnuts covered in sugar with or without added flavours, which makes up for two types of “rosquillas” the “tontas” (Dumb-plain sugar) and the “listas” (Smart-flavoured sugar).
Nevertheless, this post does not intend to be an exhaustive report on Spanish Gastronomy…nor does it speak of the fancy high cuisine restaurants that could attract some gourmet customers, it does not even promote Charmed by Spain, in fact I am not sure that it promotes travel at all… the food that I have mentioned can be delicious, but its real spice stems from being deeply rooted in my memory and in my life.
Most of you will surely have similar memories with other dishes, so I reckon that I wrote this post not in promotion, but in remembrance. Of those sweet childhood days, of the dusky summer nights dining in the open with all my family, dirty and sweaty after playing the evening away with my cousins (we used to dine a stew of snails, hot and spicy, it may sound weird- and risky for the stomach- but I have never tasted anything so delicious). I wrote this post in remembrance, and in loving memory of those who shared those memorable dinners and will dine with us no longer.