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"Like all foods, bread is a nexus of economic, political, aesthetic, social, symbolic, and health concerns. As traditionally the most important food in the Sardinian diet, bread is a particularly sensitive indicator of change."

Carole M Counihan

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Tapas no.5: Two tortillas


As you may have gathered, I am loving the Movida Rustica book, but one thing I have found is that it tends towards more obscure recipes using unusual or ‘fancy’ ingredients which, apart from being difficult to source, are not fully representative of the type of food one finds in a typical Spanish restaurant. I was surprised, for example, that there is no recipe for tortilla de patatas  or Spanish omelette, a dish that you would have to go very far out of your way to avoid when dining out in Spain, or at least in Andalucia. Fortunately, my host Mum in Seville taught me the tricks of the trade and, although I have still never made one as good as hers, I am getting closer with each try.

The first recipe below is for a traditional Spanish tortilla based on Carmen’s recipe. I asked Carmen why my tortilla was never as good, I talked her through my recipe and at the first step we discovered my main problem; I was cooking the garlic. Carmen puts her garlic in raw, or at least some of it, and WOW does it make a difference. In addition to parboiling her potatoes, Carmen also deep fries them. However, I don’t think this makes a significant difference to the flavour and given this is already a high calorie dish it seems a bit like overkill.

The second recipe is from Movida Rustica, a spinach and white bean tortilla in saffron sauce. I have made this several times now, sometimes substituting asparagus for spinach. I have to admit to being a bit of a traditionalist and still favouring tortilla de patatas, but this is great if you are hosting a tapas themed dinner party and want to impress with something more exotic. 

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Tapas no.4: Ensalada Campera from Movida Rustica


Next up is a dish that may seem a bit simple to some, but it is one of my favourite things to order on a hot day in Spain and I was so pleased when I was reminded of it. When talking potato salad in the UK or Oz, most people think mayonnaise. Of course, mayonnaise has its place – indeed in Spain Ensalada Rusa, a potato salad which has more mayonnaise than it does potato is very popular – but in the height of summer it is this light and fresh salad of potatoes dressed in vinegar and olive oil that win my heart and apparently Camorra’s too,

“Mum would always have a potato salad in the fridge over summer: roughly cut potatoes, ripe tomatoes, onions, olives and a little egg. A little plate of this makes a great lunch on a hot day.”

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Tapas no.3: Pinchos from Movida Rustica

Updated on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 11:10AM by Registered CommenterVix

I lived in Seville for three months in 2008 and Granada for 3 months in 2002. One of my favourite of the tapas I ate while I was there were the adobos de pollo or "pinchos". Usually made with chicken, these salty, spicy skewers were served all throughout Andalucia with a piece of crusty bread to mop up the juices. I was over the moon when I found the recipe in Movida Rustica.

Now I have to admit that this recipe does not produce results as good as some I have tried in Andalucia, but I think that is because I love the ones I am used to and this is different. If you have ever tried to replicate a favourite dish you will know what I mean. I will try to play around with this recipe next time to get it closer to what I know, but in the meantime this is a very nice, if not quite right, rendition.

The recipe below makes 12 tapas or 6 raciones (larger portions). If you are only cooking for 4-6 people and serving the pinchos as part of a selection of tapas, I would recommend halving the recipe.

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Tapas no.2: Alcachofas con jamón from Movida Rustica

In Andalucia, Southern Spain, it is rare to come across vegetables when dining out. Apparently, this is because the locals eat a lot of vegetables at home so when they go out they prefer to order meat and fish. Perhaps this is why one of the first dishes that caught my eye when I was flicking through Movida Rustica was the Alcachofas con Jamón. I love artichokes, but I never saw one in my entire time living in Andalucia, although the addition of jamón in vegetable dishes is familiar making a vegetarian’s passage through Spain even more trying.

“In Zaragoza there is a small suburban restaurant owned by a man who has made his life studying jamón. He is a brilliant cortador … who jokingly says he sold his soul to the devil to be able to cut jamón so well. ... This is one of the dishes he served me one day: brilliantly soft artichokes in a delicate jamón and sherry-flavoured sauce.”

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Tapas no.1: Russian Roulette with Movida Rustica

I recently revisited a recipe book that has been sitting on my shelf for over a year but which I have never actually made anything from. This is not unusual; many of my recipe books only serve the purpose of making me hungry every now and then when I am silly enough to flick through them on an empty stomach.

When I started the blog I resolved to try out more new things. Instead of just using my recipe books for inspiration and then going off on my own tangent in the kitchen, I thought I should make an effort to try out the original recipe first time. In the process, I have become more open to new ideas. I have come to respect traditional recipes more, rather than trying to make things more interesting, namely by adding more of the things I like.

So when I flicked through Movida Rustica: Spanish Traditions and Recipes, apart from making myself very hungry – I resolved to make some of the wonderful tapas dishes that Frank Camorra discovered on the year he “travelled around Spain researching recipes from the Spanish people, from the chefs of Madrid to the widows of Galicia”.

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