A random view from Combarro, a coastal town in Galicia.
Until probably 6 or 7 years ago, like most Americans, I didn’t know that much about Spanish cuisine. Of course, I knew paella (and already had been well-trained in making a good one). I knew what gazpacho and tortilla Española were, and had even eaten good jamón a few times. I knew saffron and pimentón de la vera, and even how to cook octopus quite well. My knowledge, though, really didn´t go much deeper than that. Then I met Rosa.
Suddenly I was introduced to this entire, immense, historic culture that went back thousands of years. As a chef, obsessed with learning and experiencing new tastes, ingredients, techniques, and approaches to food, Spain presented me with this exciting ocean of new ideas to dive into. The entire culture seemed, at every turn, to revolve completely around sharing food and drink. And every bite and sip seemed to be happy delicious comfort food with historical roots, which certainly encouraged me to dive deeper. That some of the most influential chefs of the past 20 or 30 years have come out of the area only reinforced that there was some serious substance here.
So, I dove in. At first, it was just learning a few different dishes from Rosa’s family. Learning some of her favorite stuff. That led to learning about the broader culture in the regions from where she came, and how her food experience tied into the bigger picture. Soon I began to spend time in Spain, living as a local, with her family and friends. Hanging out at the local bars and restaurants, having family meals with Spaniards in the big city and out in the countryside. I fell in love with the food, the culture, the people, and just wanted to learn more.
It didn’t take long to realize that what I thought of as “Spanish” was really an amalgamation of a number of different regional cultures, histories, and cuisines. Some common currents flow through the entire country, but the details often change, even as one travels from one village to the next, let alone moving from one region to another. I quickly realized that for me to learn and understand what Spanish food was all about, I was going to have to really dig in and learn about each of the component cultures.
Because Rosa was born and raised in Catalonia, the food culture of Catalonia was really my starting point for learning what Spanish food is. Her mother is from Galicia, and, since mom taught everyone in the family to cook, and what good food was, that meant Galicia was the second region I got to know. The largest part of my time spent in Spain has been in those two areas, and Rosa and I hope to retire to one of them eventually. This doesn’t mean that my interest in the food culture is limited in any way to those regions. It just means that my deeper knowledge base, support structure, and starting point all come from there.
Over time, I hope to make this website a consolidated resource, with both broad reach and depth, into the food from all around Spain. The posts, especially early on, will focus on recipes, but with the intent of including cultural background and context for the food. As things get going, posts focusing on specific or general cultural goodies will also begin to pop up. As the site grows, more structure and navigation will come along. But, to begin with, I want to focus on just adding content.
This website is a longterm project, with a large amount of new content always likely to be in process. To start, several more different food/recipe posts linger in various states of completion, with a few dozen more on a todo list. And those don’t even scratch the surface of what I would like this site to become. There is so much good food and culture from all over the country to explore, and I expect it will take me years of regular posting here to even begin to do any justice to all the fun stuff that is out there. In the meantime, I hope that you can enjoy the journey of trying to build this place into something special.
One final thought… This site is meant as a window into the culture and food of Spain through my eyes, as someone who wasn't born and raised in it. To those of you with special knowledge about specific foods I post about, or the culture, please don’t be shy. There is no way for me to be the supreme authority on every detail I am going to post about here. If you see something you disagree with, challenge me, correct me, and call me out. The recipes are meant to be my interpretations of my experiences, with help from my friends and loved ones from various parts of Spain. The beauty of this format, is that it can always be updated. Just because something has been posted, doesn’t mean that it can’t be made better. If you don’t point out a problem, I might not see it or know it’s there.