You find yourself sitting in your room, staring out of the window wondering what to have for dinner today. While the rain is pouring down on the ground you find yourself imagining a life in a different place, where drought is more common and the sun greets you more warmly with each new day; today you imagine life in Spain. On days like these, when they want to eat something simple and filling, yet cheap and nutritious, what do Spanish people eat for dinner? Suddenly the sky isn’t clouded anymore and your mind clears up, the rain has stopped you from being distracted as you realise what will fill your belly like nothing has ever done; you feel you are craving tortillas.
“Tortillas?” you ask, clearly surprised, “but haven’t I eaten those hundreds of times already?”. Not like these you haven’t, these are authentic Spanish “tortillas de patatas”! They are a kind of spanish omelettes, containing potatoes, onions and whatever you are in the mood for to add. In the olden days, just one of these could feed an entire family. Food was scarce back then and farmers weren’t exactly considered rich, but their bellies certainly were full! Here in Spain I’ve had the pleasure of tasting all kinds of tortillas and now that I’ve made a lot of them myself I am able to share my knowledge and teach the ancient art of cooking tortillas to you, the readers back north.
What you’re going to need is a lot of olive oil (extra virgin is recommended), some potatoes (500 to 600 grams), six eggs, salt, an onion and whatever you want to add to it. Before you do anything at all though I want you to make sure you have a plate that fits on top of the frying pan you’re going to use. Peel and slice the potatoes and add it to a frying pan containing a big layer of olive oil. Add sliced onion and fry the contents of the pan until you can mash it a bit to a pulp while adding some salt. You kind of deep fry the mixture in olive oil, but it should not be completely submerged. Take a bowl and break the eggs, put the fried mixture into the bowl with the eggs and mix it with a spoon, add a bit more salt as well. Now you can add whatever you want to this mixture, I recommend adding some spanish chorizo fried with some garlic, or one with peppers, leak and/or aioli. Store the leftover oil in a cup but leave some oil in there to fry the tortilla, add all of the contents to the pan and cook it at low temperature (you don’t want to burn it). Shake the pan a bit so the tortilla doesn’t get stuck to the sides of the pan. When the top of the tortilla seems to have solidified a bit, take a plate and hold it on top of the pan, you’re going to flip the tortilla now. Flip the frying pan so the tortilla falls on the plate while you hold it against the pan. Carefully slide the half-cooked tortilla back into the pan to fry the other side while adding a bit of olive oil if needed. After two or three minutes the tortilla should be done, flip it another time onto a plate and let it rest for two minutes. Slice and serve!
Now that you know how to make a traditional Spanish tortilla, you are able to enjoy it in any way you like. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it doesn’t matter. Spanish people usually don’t eat it with anything when they eat it for breakfast, but they put it between a baguette when they eat it for lunch (a bocadillo). Next time you dream of the warm Spanish coast, green hills, vineyards or the Iberian mountains, remember that you can easily experience a piece of Spain right in your kitchen at home. At first it might be a daunting effort, but it will quickly become second nature to you. Practice makes perfect, and nothing worth having comes easy. You’re a student so you have plenty of time, what else were you going to do today anyway? Study? Do your homework? This wasn’t a proper excuse when you went partying in the city center last time so why should it now? Between you and me, next time you’re hungover you’re going to appreciate the work you did making this delicacy! You may thank me later!