EPISODE 2: A comer contras!

The second session was one of the best for me. I love Spanish gastronomy and I was looking forward to discovering the main traditional dishes of Madrid. I went to Fernando’s place to cook and share our gastronomy because he has a bigger kitchen. Fernando had prepared two menus for me. This was the proposition:

Winter menu
Starter: Nothing, you have to be empty to get ready for the “cocido”.
First: Sopa de cocido.
Second: Garbanzos del cocido, tocino, chorizo, morcillo, jamón y patata.
Desert: You won’t need any dessert.

Summer menu
Starter: Vermut + torreznos
First: Ajoblanco
Second: Rabo de toro
Desert: Naranjas a la madrileña

After cooking some of these dishes I realized that Madrilians love heavy and warm meals. They just try to put in one main big dish as many products as possible. So, the result is a meal based on a main warm dish that usually contains meat and potatoes. Madrid is in the middle of Spain, they are away from the sea and thy have more “extreme temperatures” than in the sea side. That explains the absence of many fresh products and the use of processed meat.

The main ingredients of the cocido. We spent a lot of money.

On the other hand, I proposed Fernando two different menus with the most traditional dishes of Catalonia: one for the summer time and another for the winter time. I tried to combine different cooking techniques and products to show Fernando the variety that characterizes the Catalan gastronomy. I tried to make Fernando realize that the Catalan dishes show the coexistence between the sea and the mountain (because of the products that we use) and also that our dishes are based on using leftovers.

While we cooked some of the dishes I explained Fernando how we obtain the food in Catalonia and where do we buy it. I think he got the point and understood the importance of local products and traditional markets. We also faced some difficulties. It was hard to find some of the ingredients in Finland and, unfortunately, the quality of the food (and the price) was worst here in Tampere than in Barcelona. However, we could follow the plan and also improve our cooking skills. For me it was the first time cooking these dishes (my mom usually cooks them for us), and that made me learn more about the traditional cooking methods as well as made me feel more Catalan.

We tried to cook Ajoblanco but we realized we are very bad at it.

So, while Catalan traditional dishes are characterized by the variety of cooking techniques and the combination of “sea” products and “mountain” products, the Madrilian traditional dishes are characterized by the use of a lot of products at the same time, the warm temperatures and the use of all sorts of meat. This actually says a lot about the cultures themselves and let me understand a bit more our differences.

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