This week’s recipe is so easy I am almost embarrassed to publish it! Nevertheless I decided to go ahead and talk about Pan Tomaca as it tastes delicious. There is also no cooking involved so it is really easy to prepare and therefore just about perfect for these hot summer months.
Of course Spain is all about warmth, the warmth of the people and the warmth of a summer’s evening. One can see people out, just sitting and relaxing busy schedules permitting or not! Spaniards tend to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the later evening, but that of course can mean late meals and late nights. It is true that many Spaniards often go to bed late, but they go to bed relaxed with their internal springs unwound. This unfortunately is more than can be said for many other poor souls across the industrialised world.
It would now seem that “specialists” have determined that Spaniards eat too late and go to bed too late. I think these specialists are missing the point, as I said above I think there are many benefits from relaxing and unwinding in the cool of a Spanish evening, but what has really surprised me has been the reactions from the Spanish government. You see they are talking about moving the clocks back, they have decided that Spain should be on UK time and not Central European Time.
How can anyone think that this is going to change anything? We already change the clocks twice a year as it is, but nobody actually changes the time they go to bed. The restaurants don’t change the times they open and close. The television companies continue to schedule their programmes at the same times.
Changing the times when Spaniards go to bed is far more about changing customs than whether Spain is on UK or European time. Moving the clocks back will put Spain out of kilter with the rest of Europe whilst doing nothing to change Spanish habits. I for one still need to be convinced that this change is for the better. Changing the customs of a nation, or even one individual restaurant can be quite an undertaking.
Talking of which, I am reminded of an occasion at work few years back when I was asked by a senior European leader to arrange a meal in Spain for his management team. In reverse “HAL” style let’s call the company “IQ”, although I will leave it to the readers to determine whether this moniker really applies to this particular senior leader…… So I arrange for an evening meal at a good restaurant in Barcelona for the earliest possible time, 9:30 p.m. In spite of my having lived in Spain for around twenty years and having spent much of that time trying out as many restaurants as possible, this leader basically told me I had no idea what I was talking about, that restaurants in Spain opened much earlier, and that I had to get the time changed.
I spoke to the restaurant and they managed to move it to 09:00 p.m. So there we were, several senior managers and the leader sat at a table in the restaurant putting in our first drinks order. When the drinks reached the table there was in fact a mix-up on a couple of the orders which did not please this leader at all. He told me to translate his words of dissatisfaction to the waiter, which I duly did. The poor “waiter” told me that he was actually the head chef and that he was doing his best to serve a bunch of foreigners who didn’t understand that the restaurant didn’t really open until 09:30 p.m.! Needless to say I didn’t translate his response back to the manager………
Anyway, back to pan tomaca, as simple (and delicious) a dish as you could ask for.
Serves: Not applicable
Slice and toast the bread.
Rub the bread with fresh garlic.
Halve the tomatoes then squeeze and rub the tomato as you spread the juice and pulp over the toasted bread.
Drizzle on a little olive oil.
Place thin slices of the jamón onto the bread.
A simple recipe, quick to make, so spend time in your local delicatessen (and not in the kitchen) buying the best ingredients possible.
In particular make sure you get a good crusty loaf. Buy the ripest tomatoes, ones that exude juice when squeezed. You only need a drizzle of olive oil so again make sure it is good quality.
Last but not least, make sure you get some good Spanish jamón. It should be thinly sliced so although it is probably going to be relatively expensive, it will go a long way. This is as much about the flavours of the other ingredients as it is about the jamón, indeed many people eat pan tumaca without the jamón!
As usual, please let me know what you think. Drop me a comment via the blog, I reply to all comments or questions posted.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge