Cooking: Olla Gitana Essay

1427 words - 6 pages

I made a three course meal consisting of Olla Gitana, Patatas Bravas, and Crema de Chocolate. Olla Gitana, in English, is also known as gypsy pot. The olla is thin legume stew, also called potaje. In Spain, it is usually served as a main dish for lunch. The stew is inspired by vegetable cooking in the Murcia and Alicante regions of Spain. The stew is referred to as gitana because it’s ingredients are, for a lack of a better word, anarchic (Bremzen). This dish served as the entree. The side dish were the patatas bravas. Patatas bravas are a typical tapas dish served in Spain. Theories surround the exact creation of tapas in Spain. Spaniards speculate that tapas were the invention of King Alfonso X, who drank wine with small portions of food between meals. Although, common thought remains that tapas originated by way of farmers who would eat snacks, so to say, during a long interval between breakfast and lunch (Panero). In Spain, contrary to foreign thought, tapas is supposed to be a light pre-meal filler, which would explain why many tapas are composed of cold meat, cheeses, and assortments of pickled vegetables (Panero). Contrary to their traditional function, many tapas bars abroad serve tapas to constitute a meal in succession of small dishes. Patatas bravas, a popular tapa in inland Spain, are wedges of deep fried potatoes smothered in a combination of a pimentón salt, spicy marinara sauce, and ailoli. Ailoli is made of olive oil, slowly whipped into a creamy paste of garlic and salt. Alioli is often compared to a garlic mayonnaise, except the traditional version of alioli contains no egg. The Catalonia region of Spain region claims credit for alioli sauce. In Spain, alioli compliments any dish, including meat, fish, vegetables, and rice. The origin of the word comes from Spanish root words; ali, meaning garlic, and oli, meaning oil (Said). Both recipes called for pimentón, a defining flavor of Spanish food. Pimentón is the Spanish version of Paprika, and the pepper is produced in La Vera of Spain. Jeronimo monks of the Yuste monastery introduced the pepper into La Vera in the sixteenth century (Pimentón de La Vera). The last dish I served was the crema de chocolate. It was a chocolate custard flavored with orange Gran Marnier liqueur topped with (hand) whipped cream and toasted hazelnuts. The chocolate in the custard is highly representative of Spain’s history with chocolate. Chocolate was brought back from the New World by Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century. Although the Aztecs and Mayans of the New World were the first society to utilize chocolate, Spain discovered chocolate for the rest of the world (Sierra). Therefore, chocolate is special to Spain.

The cooking process was labor intensive and time consuming, consisting of preparation of the ingredients, putting the ingredients together, and cooking them. Picking out the recipes was especially frustrating. Being a vegetarian and trying to to find recipes for a Spanish meal...

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