Adrienne Prillaman is a student at University of North Texas and an an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with a high school student leadership class in Keller, Texas. Adrienne is studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain on an ISA Fall 4 program.
I’m not entirely sure who was more concerned about my diet in Spain, me or my mom. She was constantly saying that she was concerned I wouldn’t have enough fruits and vegetables while here, however it’s quite the opposite! Although the typical Spanish diet doesn’t consist of a lot of produce, my host family provides me with several servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This isn’t as common with some other host families, so I really lucked out. In my
biased opinion, I have the best host family. And I have the best host mom, because she is an excellent cook! No really, she’s great for a lot of reasons, but the cooking is phenomenal. I think my favorite thing about the food is that I get to have soup at almost every meal, because I absolutely love sopas! But there has been such a great variety of food provided by my madre (Spanish word for mother, which my friends and I use to refer to our host mothers versus our real mothers). Some are very Spanish in origin, some more worldly. Have a look!
The top left corner is a sort of chicken noodle soup with vegetables, and the bottom left corner is traditional Spanish gazpacho: a chilled soup made with tomatoes, onions, cucumber, peppers and garlic, and is best enjoyed during the summer. Because of this, we only had it a few times when we first arrived (per my request) since it normally isn’t consumed from September to April.
The top right is a rice soup in chicken broth, the middle right is a potato and navy beans (judías blancos) soup in a broth I can’t quite explain, but absolutely love! I’m sure it has some kind of tomato base, I guess I should ask! And the bottom right is a traditional noodle soup with chicken broth, sometimes madre will put chicken in it as well, it just depends!
On the top left is another rice soup with a broth I love! It is also made with lots of red chili powder which gives it its color and flavor. Top right is chicken broth with stars (estrellas), and bottom left is a lentil and carrot soup (lentejas con zanahorias), an excellent and hearty soup (especially if it has potatoes as well) for a cold day! The broth is made with garlic, onion, laurel, olive oil, and some red chili powder. And on the bottom right is sopa de patata or potato soup, made with puréed potatoes as well as garlic, oil, and red chili powder – which gives it its orange color.
In the top left is of course pizza. We almost always have the same pizza, usually once a week. It’s store bought and not homemade, but still excellent, although quite different from store-bought pizza in America.
In the top right, we have something completely homemade, another famous Spanish dish – paella! Paella is rice cooked with saffron and can be served with seafood (usually shrimp and shellfish), vegetables, and/or chicken, pork, etc. Here it is has shrimp, green beans, as well as some shellfish and scallops. While I did sample some paella from other restaurants that I somewhat enjoyed, I actually was not a fan of this. Not because it wasn’t good, I’m sure it was! But since I hail from a part of Texas that seafood isn’t commonly eaten (except Long John Silver’s, which let’s face it, doesn’t count) I was not crazy about the extremely fishy taste.
On the bottom left, yet another famous Spanish dish: tortilla española! A tortilla in Spain essentially is an omelet, and so a tortilla española is made with eggs, olive oil, onion, as well as lots of potatoes. It is truly delicious, a very traditional thing to eat in Spain – but beware! Not everybody makes it great, so if you ever visit Spain, I would suggest having it from a nice restaurant or homemade, otherwise you could have a bad one. I don’t understand how it’s possible to make a bad tortilla española, but it is! So, ¡cuidado! (be careful).
In the middle on the bottom is an assortment of meats that my madre prepared for us to figure out what we like on our bocadillos (sandwiches). For my bocadillos, I prefer jamón york (York ham, the meat on the bottom of the plate with cheese wrapped inside), pavo (turkey), or pollo (chicken). I didn’t really like the mortadera (bologna, on the left of the plate covered partly by another piece of meat), cabeza de jabalí (a type of pork, that literally translates to “head of a wild boar” but is not actually from the head, it’s just the name for it – it is the meat covering the bologna a little bit), chorizo (a type of sausage deli meat, it is the dark circular meat on the top of the plate), jamón serrano (another popular cured ham, show on the top right of the plate). A note, chorizo in Spain is not to be confused with Mexican chorizo, which I actually do enjoy! And finally in the bottom right is chicken cooked in a special (tasty) sauce, made with oil, flour, parsley and brandy – delicious!
On the top left is a simple starter dish in place of the traditional soup – rice and green beans, simple but delicious. The Frank’s Red Hot is of course not native to Spain, and I brought it with me from Texas because I knew the food in Spain would be slightly bland.
On the bottom left are the greatest pork chops (with toast cooked in oil in spices) I have ever had – no offense Dad! They are just so good! On the top right is pork loin with the closest thing to barbeque sauce my madre has used. On the middle right, the best pasta (called macarrones by my madre) I have ever had! Normally, I use more sauce than humanly necessary when I make pasta, but this pasta has a kind of sauce that is more oily than saucy, and therefore sticks right on the pasta so you don’t need as much. It is phenomenal. And at last, on the bottom right, another quite popular Spanish dish (but less famous) – albóndigas con champiñónes (meatballs with mushrooms). It is cooked in a sort of gravy that gives it such a wonderful flavor. I could eat so many…
The strangest thing my host mom has prepared for us, which I don’t have a picture of, was boiled eggs with tomato sauce. I’m not really a fan of boiled eggs (but I love eggs any other way), and eggs with tomato sauce is just not my cup of tea. That was probably the only thing I didn’t enjoy besides the paella. Another strange thing is that Spanish people eat bocadillos (sandwiches) a lot, but just dry, no sauce. I am a person who uses tons of sauce on everything, so for me this is a little bit of an adjustment. Everything else is so delicious, I will for sure get her recipes before I return to Texas!
Although there are lots of postres (desserts) available in Spain, we don’t eat them very often, usually fruit is our dessert. However, there are countless pastelerías (pastry shops) on every street where you can try them. My favorite postre, however, is from a famous chocolate shop here called Valor. Here you will find the richest chocolate con churros (thick hot chocolate with long fried donut sticks) there is. They are best enjoyed on cold and/or rainy days, hence the photo collage above.
That, in essence, is all of the food I have consumed in Spain so far. Well not really, but at least the majority of what I have had in my homestay! I hope you enjoyed it and learned something new about Spanish food and are now eager to try some!
Until next time! ¡Hasta luego!