Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Mmm Tapas! What are tapas, you may ask? Well. Let me tell you a little story.
Once upon a time, I spent a summer abroad in Granada, Spain. I stayed with a Senora who made the most delicious crepes; walked two miles a day in dizzying heat, skinnydipped in Nerja, hiked los Cachorros, tasted chocolate croissants from every pasteleria in town, watched the sun rise over the Alhambra from club Camborio, tried late-nite shawarma post-Chupiteria 69, learned the difference between "de puta madre" and "puta madre," and of course, went for tapas (or, "tapateando").
Tapas are snacks sold at bars in Spain, and usually of the deliciously greasy bar food variety. One of the highlights of Granada was that at most bars, with your first drink you got a free tapa. To go "tapateando" takes advantage of this-- we'd go out for tapas instead of dinner, bar-hopping from place to place, ordering a drink at each one and getting the free tapa that comes with it. The fun part, of course, is that one generally ends up getting drunk before getting full in the process. (Did I mention I first got really sick after returning from Spain that summer? Wonder why.)
Some notable tapas that I encountered in my journeys:
Tortilla - the Spanish tortilla is a thick, dense omelet with potatoes and onions mixed in
Croquetes - Fried blobs filled with mystery ingredients! (cheese? meat? who knows!)
Berenjena Frita con Miel de Cana - fried eggplant with sugarcane molasses
Espinacas con Garbanzos - sauteed spinach with garbanzo beans; I think I first encountered this in Sevilla last year, and it was a nice "healthier" alternative at the time.
and, on the other hand, I once received little bread slices topped with an inch of may, sprinkled with bacon bits. TAPA FRACASO! (= tapa fail!)
And, what to drink with said tapas? My personal favorite was the Shandy- beer mixed with lemon soda. If the place didn't have Shandys, then tinto de verano (red wine mixed with lemon soda) was the way to go-- or, a good old sangria. (Or there was that one bar that had their specialty "orgasmo" mystery drink...)
But alas, the days of Shandys and shawarma and guitar-clapping, sangria-sharing are over.
But that doesn't mean I can't make my own healthy tapas!
Here are the (only slightly gringo-ified) diet-acceptable versions of three of my favorite tapas:
(and sorry for inexact (/nonexistant) measurements 0:)
Espinacas sin Garbanzos (make it "con" garbanzos by throwing some in- I was lazy!)
Salt, white pepper!
Tortilla Espanola -- here, the idea is that you want enough egg to nearly fill whatever pan you're using. This time I made a tortilla-for-one and used a little baby 6-inch(?) "one-egg" pan:
1/4 - 1/2 boiled potato, thinly sliced -- officially these slices would be fried first with some chopped white onions -- or use leftover french fries. (I used leftover baked home-fries)
dash of onion powder (or chopped, sauteed white onion)
little dump of Spanish olive oil (/EVOO)
Mix all ingredients in a measuring cup. Heat pan with a dash of olive oil. Pour in mixture and cook until set. (To be honest, I haven't mastered the art of cooking a perfect tortilla... mine has ended up a bit mishapen!) Cook until set and slice into wedges.
Berenjena Frita con Miel de Agave
eggplant, sliced into ~1cm rounds
almond meal / flaxseed meal
salt, pepper, coconut sugar
Slice eggplant; coat each slice in almond meal (or just sprinkle it on top). Arrange slices on a cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle on salt and pepper to season, and optional coconut sugar, if desired. To serve, drizzle agave nectar on top.