Thursday, 2 May 2013

How different is Spanish cooking?

My recent posts have been based on fashion, so I thought it was time to throw something different into the pot - cooking pot, that is!

We were persuaded by our lovely Spanish friend Cristina, whose family happens to own the bar where we meet fellow Brits on Tuesday mornings, to attend a cooking demonstration there this week. We were impressed by the advantages offered by the AMC cookware, especially the apparent savings on time and energy, though not enough to justify the price of the system. However what struck me as particularly interesting were the obvious differences between Spanish and British cooking.

The salesman was demonstrating how people usually boil vegetables in water, whereas his cookware didn't need water to cook the vegetables to perfection. We agreed that the vegetables cooked his way had a lot more flavour, but when he talked about throwing away the vegetable water in the traditional way of cooking, the British unanimously announced that we wouldn't do this, as we would use it to make gravy!  Gravy? What was gravy? Spanish people don't make gravy!

Sunday roast with gravy
The next difference was the use of olive oil when cooking.  I probably use more olive oil than many of my compatriots, as I make a lot of Spanish meals on the basis that I prefer using local produce, but even so when he was talking about the number of litres used per month I had to say that we use a lot less.

I think the highlight of the demonstration was meant to be how quickly you can cook a whole octopus. Octopus? It's not a common ingredient in British kitchens, though I am sure that a group of Spanish seƱoras would have been impressed.

Pulpo anyone?
We already knew that Spanish meal times are different to ours: if you are going out for an evening meal with Spanish friends, expect to eat no earlier than 21.30, and that's when they are making allowances for British customs.  However this demonstration highlighted how many other differences there were between our culinary habits. I think that the salesman definitely needs to update his sales pitch if he hopes to sell anything to British customers!


  1. The octopus dish looks elegant and colorful! I cannot possibly imagine how it would taste, but it sounds like such a wonderful place to live - the intersection of culture!

  2. Octopus is delicious if cooked properly, but I for one wouldn't attempt to cook a whole one! I don't eat meat, however there are so many delicious fish dishes here in Spain that I'm spoilt for choice.

  3. Oddly, I struggled to eat Octopus if whole as in your photo, but loved it and squid when cut into rings. We certainly ate a lot more fish when we lived in Spain because it is so good and tasty. We still eat Paella now we are back in the UK but use a Paella mix of spices that we discovered in Spain, fortunately they are available on the internet and don't cost a fortune.

  4. Jacqui, I must admit that I prefer eating octopus when it's in rings - I don't know whether it is all in the mind or not! Do you ever go into tapas bars in the UK? We have been in a couple of good ones, but they always seem soooo expensive!

  5. Very interesting Sue. I love cooking different foods. Of course married to a Jamaican meant that I had to adapt. I'm the best Rice & Peas cook in the House. But of course it's great fun to try different cooking. Apart from a few German dishes (I think they are leftovers from my childhood)I pretty much like to experiment so I search on line for the recipes and off I go. Great fun and most of the time successful.

  6. Thanks, Gertraud. I buy a Spanish weekly magazine, partly to improve my Spanish, but I also enjoy trying out different recipes. The majority of the recipes are seasonal, which means we can make the most of the fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown locally. I often search on-line if I have vegetables and other ingredients to use up. Thinking of it, I have some peas and there is always rice in our store cupboard - maybe I'll look up Jamaican recipes for tomorrow night!