A food odyssey

I am now in Spain for a few days for a well earned break. This has always been a food odyssey amongst other things. I love coming to stay with my in-laws as we are always blessed with the most delicious of foods. Hand made, home cooked and thoughtfully created. It’s an absolute pleasure.

The morning started ‘late’ with this mini-feast.

Breakfast is toast with a selection of jams, cheese and strawberries. It might not look much but it was quite filling. My appetite is different when relaxed and in the 25 degree heat, so for me a little goes a long way.

This was something new . It is called chebekia. The Chebakia (Arabic: شباكية‎) is a pastry of Moroccan origin made of strips of dough rolled to resemble a rose, deep-fried until golden, then coated with a syrup made of honey and rosewater and sprinkled with sesame. It is also known as the Moroccan honey cookie.

So after this breakfast, we took a walk to Puerto Banus. It was hot but the breeze was refreshing. I worked up an appetite and I was so ready for lunch by the time we limped back (I have developed a blister with the new shoes I was wearing). I could not resist taking a picture of the starters as the table spread looks so inviting.

Mussels with pipirrana. This was just so refreshing. refrescante.

Pipirrana is a typical Spanish salad originating from Andalusia. It has numerous variations because each province has a different method of preparation and different ingredients. However, one of the more traditional versions is made with cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. The refreshing summer salad is usually dressed with olive oil, and vinegar, and slices of bread are often used as an accompaniment that is soaked in it, while tuna and olives are often added in order to elevate the flavors. It is believed that pipirrana was invented by Spanish field workers who would prepare it with fresh vegetables, so it is safe to assume that tuna and olives were not originally used in the salad.

Guacamole and anchovies. This was such a lovely little starter.

This soup was simply out of this world. It was made from sepia, seaweed, chickpeas and other vegetables. Even though it was hot, it just hit the right spot. It also had herbs cumin, turmeric and allspice adding a comforting warmness.

I missed the first part of the conversation but suddenly my father-in-law was talking about alboronía. The word alboronía comes from the Arabic word al-baraniyya which means a certain delicacy, based on a stew of eggplants , tomatoes , peppers and pumpkins all mixed well with paprika and served on the days of Lent (in which it is forbidden to eat meat). It is by its content and its preparation the precursor of the La Mancha pistol and other Spanish pistos. With the discovery of America, new products such as tomato and pepper arrived in Spain , and hence the paprika , which became common ingredients of alborony. Alboronia is a very popular dish in Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha and, as during the Mozarabic era, it was tasted at weddings and in large celebrations, such was the gastronomic category of the dish. From the south of Spain it passes to other lands within the territory that call it pisto .

Photo credit: my mother-in-law

Strawberries macerated in lemon juice and brown sugar. A refreshing dessert that was absolutely delicious. Postre fresquito.

The process called maceration softens fruit and imparts flavor, transforming berries and stone fruit into something worthy of dessert. Macerating typically involves soaking fruit in an acidic liquid such as liqueur, lemon juice, or vinegar, the liquid is not always necessary, particularly in the case of water-dense strawberries. At 92 %water by weight, strawberries need nothing more than a generous sprinkle of sugar to macerate. Sugar, which draws out the liquid from strawberries, forms a tight bond with the extracted water molecules. The result is a bowl of tender fruit swimming in a sweet syrup, the perfect accompaniment to a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cake. The sugar also enhances the strength of the strawberries’ natural pectin, resulting in a near jamlike consistency. In fact, this is how the process of jam making begins. Of course, the macerated fruit is also delicious on its own. The longer the strawberries macerate, the richer and more intense their flavor becomes. The addition of herbs, zest, and other flavorings can enhance the mixture’s aromas. In the case of the cheesecake, mint adds a refreshing herbal note. Other welcome additions include citrus zest, crushed green cardamom, star anise, and vanilla bean..

After all that food, it was all I could but to take a shower and have a lovely afternoon siesta.

Estoy contenta

References

Macerated strawberries

Chebakia

Pipirrana

Alboronía

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