Book appetit! A Spanish menu

During the last Readathon, Sheila from Book Journey hosted Book Appetit, a mini-challenge that asked us to create a menu based on one of the books we were reading. While on the Readathon I only had time to compile the menu, but the idea stuck with me, and last week I was finally able to act it out. So without further ado, let me present you:

A tour of Spanish cooking
(loosely inspired by The Return, by Victoria Hislop)

While the novel has a major focus on the city of Granada, the characters travel throughout Spain, so I thought the best way to render homage to this book was to choose different recipes from different regions. (Unfortunately, none of the things I cooked were photo-worthy, so I’ll have to post generic pictures instead.)

Entrée: gazpacho, from Andalusia

Photo credits: HarlanH on Flickr

The idea of cold soup does not come natural to me, but I guess it does to people living in Andalusia, because of the extremely hot summers — that’s where the idea of siesta was born, after all.

The gazpacho is the most traditional of Andalusian cold soups (the other one that picked my interest is ajo blanco), and the good part is that there is no cooking involved, you just blend all ingredients and refrigerate, and serve in glasses.

Click here for a more detailed gazpacho recipe.

Tapas: pintxos, from the Basque Country

Photo credits: rioncm on Flickr

Tapas are the Spanish appetizers, covering an enormous range of recipes, and they can be a meal in and of themselves. Tapas are a way of life, in Spain.

While researching this post, I discovered the existence of pinxtos, which are the Basque version of tapas. I’m not sure if there is a defining trait, but they seem to use a lot of fish and fruit.

I based my version on this pinxtos recipe.

Main course: tortilla de patatas, from Madrid

Photo credits: Great British Chefs on Flickr

Not that the tortilla is especially linked with Madrid, but the Spanish capital has a strong symbolic value in the novel (as in the Civil War), and here I want to mirror that. So in my menu, the most typical Spanish recipe was the main course and my reference to Madrid.

There are many different versions of this dish, but if you ask me, this is the tortilla recipe I tried to follow.

To drink: sangria, from everywhere in Spain

Photo credits: TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr

As for tortilla, sangria is not directly linked to a specific location in Spain, but is spread everywhere, with different variations, different wines and different flavors.

If you ask me, no Spanish menu is complete without a glass of sangria!

Anyone need a sangria recipe?

Dessert: crema catalana, from Barcelona

Photo credits: Isabelle @ Crumb on Flickr

OK, so this is where I am cheating. I had thought about making crema catalana, but never got around to it (as a dessert I made a sangria-based jelly with strawberries, but that’s kind of doubling the sangria recipe, right?). I don’t feel too bad about it because the book’s focus on Barcelona is very limited so…

Anyway, if you want to try crema catalana, here’s the recipe.

I hope you enjoy your Spanish meal!

With this post I participate in
Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking.
See this week’s roundup here.

6 comments on “Book appetit! A Spanish menu

  1. Mmmm… yum! I love that you included pintxos in your menu! They are indeed a little different from normal Spanish tapas. Really, they’re a form of food art – the most usual type involves something very pretty looking and tasty stuck onto a slice of baguette with a toothpick (hence the name “pintxo”, a basquified version of the Spanish word for skewer, “pincho”). But they do come in all shapes or forms and there are even pintxo competitions among Basque chefs, which are taken quite seriously by the locals. Also, a tapa normally comes for free with a beer or drink at a bar, whereas you have to pay for a pintxo. They’re totally worth it though. Hm, now I’m hungry!

  2. That sounds like a wonderful meal! I was in Spain a few years ago and loved the food. And Sangria is such a wonderful drink.

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