SAI Excursion-Spanish Cooking Lesson
So we have been on so many excursions through SAI where we have traveled to other cities, but for this blog post, I’d like to include an activity we’ve taken part in right here in Barcelona.
Last week, 3/6, SAI arranged a Spanish cooking lesson. Going into it, I had just anticipated for us to go to our coordinator Mireia’s house and she would make a recipe for us and show us how she makes it.; boy was I wrong! Instead of cooking out of a home kitchen, we were brought to a chain market up in the mountainous area of Barcelona. Above the market was a place where they actual held cooking lessons; private and group lessons. I had never been to a cooking lesson in a professional place before so I was excited when I walked into the room and saw a nice big kitchen with lots of different ingredients on the counter! It was a very interactive lesson and every member of the group that was there was able to participate in something to help cook our meal.
We made 4 different dishes as a group. The first was a salad called Xatonada. This was probably the most controversial dish because of the ingredients that were put into it. It was a base of greens like any normal salad, but we then added olives, raw cod, tuna, and anchovies on the top. Yeah, that’s a lot of raw fish. Coming from the Midwest, I really hadn’t been very exposed to much seafood growing up so this was a big leap for me to try. We also helped make the salad dressing that went on top and was made of roasted tomatoes, garlic, peppers, almonds, hazelnuts, olive oil, salt and vinegar. The sauce was definitely my favorite part of it. I told myself that I would at least TRY everything, and I was happily surprised at the taste of this salad. It was a little salty, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
I mainly focused on making the Pimientos de Padron, which is just peppers, olive oil and salt. I had to sauté the peppers on the stove and stir them pretty frequently to avoid them burning. Those were also a tasty little appetizer we had before our main course.
My favorite dishes were what we had as our main dishes. One was called Musclos al vapor, and it was boiled and sautéed muscles. The unique part about this recipe was the mixing of lemon and onions in the boiled water before putting the muscles in. I don’t think I would have ever put those two things together, but man was it good. After adding the muscles to the lemon and onions on the stove, we also added a cup of white wine and some olive oil.
The second of my two favorite dishes was the Fideua. This was a seafood noodle dish that is very traditional to Spain, and the Cataluyna region in general. The ingredients to this include “fideus” noodles, onion, fish stock, green and red pepper, cuttlefish, tomatoes, egg, garlic and olive oil. We first had to dissect the cuttlefish, which was an interesting task. We got a full anatomy lesson of its body parts, and then continued to cut it up in pieces and throw it in the boiling pot of other ingredients. It was SO delicious. I think I had two or three helpings of it!
Along with these three dishes, for dessert we had an interesting dish called Mel I mato which was a slice of mato cheese with honey drizzled on it. We also had Postres de Music, which was a small shot of dessert wine that is served with hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts and raisins.
You could say I was pretty full after the meal was over, and to add to that, we also had wine and bread with tomato and garlic on it to go with our already large meal.
I really enjoyed this excursion, even if it wasn’t traveling out of Barcelona. I think it was very beneficial for all of us students to see how a traditional Spanish meal is prepared and that we actually got to help make it and see how it tasted in the end. I’m not a chef by any means, but the food turned out pretty dang delicious and I am definitely going to bring back the recipes to the United States and try to impress my family with it upon my return to the United States.
Bailey is a current student at St. Cloud State University studying at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain during the Spring 2015 term.