It’s fair to say that I could write a 100-page book on all of the food-based experiences I have had in the past nine weeks in Europe. I love food, so when I found out I would be living with a host family here, I was a bit nervous about what was going to be fed to me. It turns out that some of my favorite meals have been served in the home by my wonderful host mother, Juana.
The Spanish eat a lot differently than Americans do. Madrid’s position on the Iberian Peninsula guarantees that the seafood here is fresh and delicious. One of my favorite meals is called gambas con arroz (shrimp and rice). This steamy bed of yellow curry-flavored rice is sprinkled with lump jumbo red shrimp, caught the day before from the Mediterranean Sea (and yes, cooked and served with the heads still on them!). We eat a lot of soups, usually homemade chicken and rice soup, and lots of cooked beans. Tortilla con patata, which is essentially a thick omelet with potatoes inside, is also one of my favorites. The servings are generous, more typical of what you’d see in a traditional Spanish lunch. Dessert is usually fruit: melon or pineapple.
A few of my less favorite dishes are Spanish deviled eggs (I’ll let you Google those) and butternut squash purée.
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, yet the Spanish consider it the least. A typical breakfast in Spain is a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. Where’s the sausage, bacon, and eggs? Beats me…
Lastly, Spanish people don’t snack like I’m used to. It’s very unusual for someone here to go to the vending machine and grab a bag of Doritos or some cookies.
Regardless, it’s been an adventure trying all the different cuisines of Europe, especially the ones out of Juana’s kitchen.