Ole'-La tortilla espanola or Spanish Omelette
One of the culinary delights from Spain is la tortilla espanola or la tortilla de patatas. I bet you didn't know that Spain had the tortilla. Most people associate tortillas with Latin American cooking, and you are correct. But, Spain also has the tortilla; however, it is very different from the Latin American version. The Spanish tortilla is really a type of an egg and potato omelette. It can be served as a main meal or as a tapa. (a small plate appetizer) It can also be served hot or cold and frequently is served cold at picnics in Spain. La tortilla espanola is a great food to serve as a supper meal in Spain, as this meal is served very late at night in Spain - 10 to 11pm. My favorite way of serving the Spanish tortilla is hot.
The Spanish tortilla is a typical Spanish dish consisting of a thick, egg omelette made with potatoes and fried in olive oil. Its other ingredients are onions and parsley. Some of the other ingredients the Spanish add to the tortilla are: green peppers, chorizo (Spanish sausage), mushrooms, and diced ham. The tortilla paisana includes red pepper and peas.
Once cooked, the tortilla is always served with bread or in a bocadillo, a sandwich made with crusty bread. A side dish to include is la ensalada mixta, a mixed, tossed salad with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing.
The first known reference in Spain to the Spanish tortilla is in a Navarrese court document from 1817. Navarre is located in northern Spain. Legend has it that during the siege of Bilbao, the Carlist general, Thomas de Zumalacarrigui created the tortilla de patatas to feed his starving army because of its high nutritional value. It appears that after that, the tortilla spread throughout Spain during the Carlist wars and became a popular Spanish food.
Recipe for La Tortilla Espanola or Spanish Omelette:
4 medium potatoes
4 or 5 eggs
1 medium onion
1 cup olive oil
salt to taste
chopped parsley to taste
Peel the potatoes and cut them into about 1/8 inch slices, Heat a deep pan with olive oil and place potatoes in the oil. Keep the stove at medium heat, which allows the potatoes to cook slowly and to soak up the oil. Finely chop the onion and add it to the potatoes and oil. Continue to slowly fry the pan's contents until the onions turn soft and slightly brown. After 10 minutes, strain the rest of the oil. Add a pinch of salt and beat the eggs in a small bowl; add the chopped parsley and mix. Add the potatoes and onions. Now, put the pan that held the potatoes back on the stove at the same medium heat with a little bit of oil and add the contents of the bowl (eggs, potatoes, and onion.) Cover the pan and leave it to cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes until the bottom begins to brown. Then, here comes the fun part: flipping the tortilla
Using a lid or large plate, turn the omlette upside down (flip onto the plate) and then slide it back into the pan with the uncooked side on the bottom.
When both sides are slightly brown, take your cooked tortilla espanola off the heat and put it on a plate to serve. Garnish with parsley and/or tomatoes. Serves four.
This is a great late night snack and wonderful for Sunday brunch. With practice the flipping of the tortilla becomes very easy!
Mexican or Latin American tortilla
The familiar Mexican tortilla is a different tortilla altogether. It is usually made of corn or flour and water and is a flatbread. When the corn and water is combined it forms a masa that is the basis for the tortilla. It is kneaded and formed into a circle or, today, pressed in a tortilla press. It is then deep fried or grilled on both sides until golden and ready to serve. The soft taco is used to make burritos, enchiladas, rellenos, etc. and the hard taco (deep fried) is used to make crunchy tacos, chalupas etc. The Mexican tortilla has become so popular in American diets today, because of the influx of Mexican immigrants and the Mexican history in the west and southwest of our country.