¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? ¿Tienes hambre? ¿Sí? ¡Bueno!
Yes, you really are in the right place if you're hungry (hambre), we promise. For we are about to embark on a little Spanish food and drink tour. Ready? ¡Vamos!
Let's start with an expected, comforting Spanish culinary delight. Tortillas, the trusty, hefty Spanish omelette, is one of the easiest meals to throw together in a hurry. Laden with eggs, onions and potatoes as a base, and topped off with everything from chorizo to courgettes, tortillas (and if you want to pronounce it properly, let's hear your ll replaced with a y as in yes) can be served as an appetising tapa or light lunch, either on its own or in a bocadillo (sandwich).
Think of a kind of small, hard, crisp bread that's either white or integras (wholemeal) depending on your preference, and you will have a tostada. A lot of Spanish food is finger food, and this is no exception. You can have it 'plain', by which we mean drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt, or cover it in tomates, jamon, y queso. In fact, it's your tostada: do with it whatever you like! Can we have one?
We could have gone straight for a café con leche or a cortado when considering coffee, but who says Spanish has to mean Spain? The Argentinian mate is a caffeine-infused beverage derived from the grinding of yerba leaves. It is drunk through a straw which has many names depending on which tongue you taste it with (Spanish – bombilla, Portuguese – bomba), and traditionally served in a calabash gourd. You can also buy 'tea-bag' version of mates, but that's just sacrilegious.
Now we've had a coffee break, it is time to head straight back to the good stuff. Technically, patatas bravas is a tapas dish, but it tastes so good we wouldn't mind having it for almuerzo, merienda or cena. We like easy dishes, and patatas bravas is just that: potatoes are boiled, then fried, then covered with a tangy almost salsa-like sauce. In some cities it is actually salsa that is used, and in others a thick creamy mayonnaise-style sauce is added too.
Patatas bravas can be a little on the spicy side, so why not wash it down with a sweet, creamy orxata? Orxata, pronounced horchata, is made from tigernuts (chufas), water, and sugar poured over ice. Expect sweetness, expect aftertaste, but in a good kind of way. And if you're in the right place, you could try the cheeky not-so-little side treat that goes hand in hand with orxata, the noble farton. Go on. Have a giggle, we know you want to.
If sickly sweet bebes (drinks) aren't your thing, may we suggest a range of the finest Spanish beers. Alhambra is a favourite of ours, with Estrella coming up a close second, and Mahou another option that we'll never turn down. ¡Salud! And don't forget the typical Spanish bar snacks of red peanuts fried in their skins and covered in salt.
Paella (say it with us: pie-ay-ya), is the most noble of Spanish food you can find. You will rarely meet a Spaniard who doesn't have an opinion on the best way to cook a paella, or even how to eat it (straight from the same pot or served onto individual plates), but that's the beauty of a dish that's made for tweaking. Traditionally, preparing paella is a long, drawn-out affair, cooked slowly in a big pot over an open fire with all kinds of meat, fish, vegetables and pulses being thrown in in various combinations.
Tarta de manzana
It would be frankly rude to write a list of top food and not include at least one dessert. Tarta de manzana is a delicious kind of apple tart, with a light pastry base, and a thin layer of apple compote filling, covered with a spiral of apple slices. Tarta de manzana is baked, and garnished with cinnamon or nutmeg.
Our final port of call in our Spanish adventure had to end with sangria. If you haven't tried sangria, frankly we are shocked, but you could think of it as a sort of punch that has been well and truly spiked. The base may be red wine, but triple sec and brandy are often sneaked in, under the additions of the 'healthier' necessities for sangria which are sugar, lemons, oranges, soda, and of course, ice.
And while you enjoy your meal, we hope that you are inspired to put a little something else in your mouth. Language, of course, is what we mean, before we get stern looks from our editor. How about it? Why not contact us and see what courses we have for you to wrap your teeth around?