Of course there are many dishes in Spain that are elaborate or employ more advanced cooking techniques, but it must be said that many others base their success on simple, well-cooked quality ingredients. Simple traditional Spanish meals are quite often my favourites and what I most make at home. Also, as it is Mediterranean style cooking, it is also supposedly a much healthier way of eating. There are quite a few articles on the subject on the BBC News website. Here are just a few of the ones I found:
Mediterranean diet keeps people ‘genetically young’
Mediterranean diet is best way to tackle obesity, say doctors
Mediterranean diet ‘cuts cancer’
Med diet ‘cuts lung disease risk’
Med diet ‘helps prevent diabetes’
Med diet ‘could prevent asthma’
Mediterranean diet ‘reduces pensioner brain shrinkage’
Med diet ‘reduces dementia risk’
And my favourite……..
Med-style diet ‘can battle blues’
I wonder if it is perhaps due to the wine we drink??
So it is good for just about everything, and with all these benefits and more, I guess we should all be eating lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and washing it all down with lashings of olive oil! Mediterranean or not, I believe we ought to try and eat balanced meals. I personally don’t really deprive myself of anything, but don’t overindulge either in anything either!
Moving from the BBC to the NY Times for a moment, I read an article last November where they talked about the importance of a balanced diet. Interestingly they were talking about a balanced diet versus a whole host of dietary supplements including multivitamins, calcium, magnesium and fish oils (Omega-3). Their conclusion, skip the supplements.
Of course they are not against a special diet or dietary supplements when someone has a medical condition, they were really talking about “healthy” people who take supplements on a daily basis. Given the possible negative side effects some of these supplements can have, they simply stated that for most people, all that was required was a balanced diet. They went on to say that for those people that had some sort of deficiency, they ought first to try eating more of those food groups that are high in what they are lacking.
But simply eating more of a particular food group is not the popular opinion. It seems that in this modern technological age we need modern solutions, pills and exotic potions that promise the moon and cost the earth! As always, the cynic in me believes that a frighteningly large amount of money is being spent by supplement manufacturers to brainwash us into believing otherwise….. and it seems to be working!
My own personal experience would seem to vindicate the Mediterranean diet……….When I moved to Spain from England, the company that hired me gave me a medical. It was in fact after they hired me, something I have never really understood. I guess they had their reasons. Anyway, several of the key indicators came out high, in particular the one for gout! I was told to come back in a couple of months’ time for a re-check.
On my return the doctor asked me how the medication had gone, medication I had not taken as he had forgotten to prescribe any. In the end he took the necessary samples anyway and sent them off for analysis. He, and indeed I, were surprised to find that all the indicators were now within the accepted ranges, even the one for gout. As the only change between the two analyses was the change in diet from England to Spain, I can say that for me at least the Mediterranean diet works!
And so, finally, this weeks recipe, a typical Spanish dish. This one doesn’t promise the moon, it is just a simply, everyday recipe for a warming big-soup. I think it tastes delicious and it is easy and cheap to make. As is often the case with many Spanish dishes, it has little meat, just 10g per head. The meat though, in this case chorizo, does add a lot of flavour to the soup so in spite of the small amount it is worth adding in. The other great thing about the soup is that it is better the following day. The stock thickens when left due to the starch in the potatoes. It is therefore a great dish to make the day before then just reheat when you want to eat it.
1 Garlic clove
4 Large potatoes
500ml Chicken stock
5ml Pimentón dulce
Chop the vegetables with the exception of the potatoes.
Fry the vegetables until soft.
Chop the chorizo and fry briefly with the vegetables.
Add the pimentón and fry briefly.
Break the potatoes into smallish pieces. Insert the knife into the potato, but instead of cutting through twist the blade to break off a piece of potato.
Add the potatoes and enough stock to cover. Cook until the potatoes are done.
The dish is better made ahead of time then re-heated. It will have more flavour and the stock will be thicker.
Breaking the potatoes rather than cutting them cleanly with a knife leaves a rougher surface that allows the starch to leach out more easily. This is what thickens the stock and this is why it is better to make the dish the day before then reheat before serving.
You will have seen from the pictures that I used my home-made tomato sauce instead of fresh tomato. It is still too early here for fresh tomatoes from my allotment, so I decided to use my tomato sauce instead.
This week I have chosen a couple of seasonal recipes, at least for those of you living in the northern hemisphere! Here in the allotment I am harvesting Ajos Tiernos (Spring Garlic) and Chard at the moment.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge