|Paella de cerdo con Chouriço y espinaca|
Wednesday, 9 January 2019
The return of the Spanish inquisition?An omelette and paella divides Europe
Following research for my recent post on Brussels sprouts I stumbled upon some more culinary troubles afoot in Spain. Certain cooking methods must be respected,and at ones own expense some things are better left unmeddled with. At the end of last year, fears that Spain had become irreparably divided following two inconclusive general elections and almost 10 months of ceaseless political bickering, were allayed after Jamie Oliver united the nation by tweeting his own "twist" on paella. Spaniards were outraged by his decision to re-vamp their country´s signature dish.The rich dish which hails from Valencia,traditionally includes meat,fish, shellfish and vegetables,but not chorizo.The inclusion of the Spanish sausage saw Oliver bearing the brunt of much Iberican outrage.I put this to the test and found the internet abounds with paella recipes that include chourizo.If one can not trust online food retailer La Tienda to purvey authenticity, then something is amiss.They have been online suppliers of traditional Spanish food for over 20 years.I would also trust Sam and Sam Clark,chef-owners of restaurant Moro,in London.in the Moro cookbook they give us an authentic paella recipe, Paella De Cerdo Con Chorizo y Espinaca (Rice with Pork, Chorizo and Spinach),a recipe I have been cooking for years.
In these times of political turbulence and division it is never a good idea to cause an international incident, particularly in a country that will ruthlessly defend its culinary traditions and territory too.The UK had already been accused by Spain of “treachery” and acting “under the cover of darkness” in an escalation of a war of words over the future of Gibraltar.A few months earlier Simon Manley the UK´s ambassador to Madrid, instead of trying to restore the reputation of Britain´s diplomacy and cuisine, thought he would come up with a novel solution by meddling,live on Spanish TV,with another of the most sacred of Spanish dishes the Tortila de patatas (Spanish omelette).Appearing on the late-night Spanish cooking programme El Comidista ( the food lover), Manley, 49, boldly dismissed suggestions that some formulas should never be messed with.More sparks flew.Not for the first time, the worst transgressors were deemed to be Oliver and those who “commit atrocities” by adding chorizo, cheese, raw onion and, perhaps most egregiously, coriander.In my opinion the secret of a good tortilla lies in the sweetness of the onions and the luxurious softness of the potatoes.When it comes to onion, the cookbooks say a Spanish omelette’s ingredients are egg, potato, olive oil, salt and onion.The issue of whether cebollas belong in the emblematic fried dish runs like a faultline under the nation’s bar stools and dining tables, dividing families and communities and pitting concebollistas (with-onionists) against sincebollistas (without-onionists).Whose side are you on? Should we be on a diplomatic mission to defend the emblematic paella and Spanish omelette or are we having none of it? Are you a concebollista or a sincebollista?