You may never have heard of Andalusia, a word that – to me, anyway – sounds like the name of a fairy-tale land rather than an actual region, but I guarantee it is part of Spain most familiar to you. Under Francisco Franco’s long regime (1936-1975), the attempt to create a uniform national image resulted in the nationalization and exportation of Andalusia’s culture. Andalusia is the southern region of Spain, where Spain’s two best-known cultural icons, flamenco and bull-fighting, originated. The lady in the fluffy red dress and the sparkling torero (matador) are, in fact, more Andaluz than Spanish. The Alhambra, a giant palace and fortress, is the most frequented tourist destination in Spain and sits squarely in Granada, one of the largest cities in Andalusia.
The food of Andalusia lives up to its region’s reputation. Two dishes I’d like to share are ubiquitous in Spain but are very common in Andaluz tapas bars. Both these naturally gluten-free recipes come from Peter S. Feibleman’s 1970 The Cooking of Spain and Portugal.
Tortilla de Patata
Tortilla de Patata (potato) is not anything like a Mexican tortilla. It’s actually similar to an omelet, although it is typically eaten for lunch or dinner rather than breakfast. It works as either a side dish or a meal in itself.
To serve 4 to 6
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rounds
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup finely chopped onions
- In a heavy 10-12-inch skillet, heat 1 cup of olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Add the potatoes, sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of the salt and turn them about in the pan to coat them well with oil. Continue cooking, turning occasionally, until the potatoes brown lightly; then add the onions, reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then until the potatoes and onions are tender.
- Transfer the entire contents of the skillet to a large sieve or colander and drain the potatoes and onions of all their excess oil.
- Beat the eggs and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt until frothy. Gently stir in the potatoes and onions.
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy 8-inch skillet until a light haze forms above it. Pour in the omelet mixture, spread it out with a spatula and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Shake the pan periodically to keep the eggs from sticking.
- When the omelet is firm but not dry, cover the skillet with a flat plate and, grasping the plate and skillet firmly together, invert them and turn the omelet out in the plate. Then carefully slide the omelet back into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes longer to brown the underside, and serve at once.
And, for the over-21 crowd (or perhaps the over-18 crowd, depending on where you are)…
½ lemon, cut into ¼-inch slices
½ orange, cut into ¼ inch slices
½ large apple, cut in half lengthwise, cored, and cut into thin wedges
¼ to ½ cup superfine sugar
1 bottle dry red wine (Spanish!)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) brandy
Club soda, chilled
Combine the lemon, orange, apple, and ¼ cup sugar in a large pitcher. Pour in the wine and brandy and stir with a long-handled spoon until well mixed. (Taste. If you prefer the sangria sweeter, add up to ¼ cup more sugar.)
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until thoroughly chilled. Just before serving, pour in chilled club soda to taste, adding up to 24 ounces of the soda. Stir again, and serve at once in chilled wine glasses.