Cultural Craving: Spanish Food

May 21, 2013

The day never ends in Spain. There, the cyclical rhythm of work and leisure is powered by an intense love of life and, more notably, food. Spanish cuisine has formed over the centuries as more ingredients have become accessible. At the root of every authentic dish lies down-to-earth flavors and ties to its region of origin.

For Spaniards, there are traditionally seven food breaks throughout the day; the largest meals are la comida (lunch) and la cena (dinner). These breaks are part of life in Spain, as is the siesta, which is a period of time that shops and businesses close for people to relax. Bars and restaurants remain open during meal times, but close around 4 p.m. till 8 p.m. for their own siesta.

Lunchtime in Spain doesn’t involve picking up a salad and returning to your desk. Instead, it is a social event. Locals will stop what they are working on at 2 p.m., return home or meet friends and family for lunch. There is a substantial first course, main course, wine, dessert, and coffee. As Ernest Hemmingway noted on a visit to Spain once, “You have to drink plenty of wine to get it all down.” Dinner, which usually occurs around 10 p.m., is a time for Spaniards to congregate again for a lighter round of eating. These meals are traditionally fish and eggs (but still observe a three-course round-up).

This Cultural Craving post celebrates the Spanish way of life. The lifestyle might not mirror the practical Missourian way, but the simplicity of authentic Spanish dishes matches Missourian’s easygoing spirit. Like Spain, there isn’t a set “Missourian” cuisine (unless, of course, you consider Kansas City BBQ a genre). Common national dishes include paella, gazpacho, flan, and potato omelets. Their most famous wine is sherry, which originated in the Southern regions.

Pollo al ajillo (chicken in garlic sauce) has become a national treasure of Spain. It is found on most menus and is akin to Southern fried chicken in the U.S. Naturally, many arguments have ensued over the best recipe, but this one is an easy alternative that still offers a little bit of heat. Pair it with Traminette for a slightly sweet flavor to offset the spice. Or, enjoy it with Chambourcin to accentuate the seasoning of the chicken.

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