Being raised in a big family and having many childhood memories revolve around cooking, food has always been a big part of life. Some of my earliest memories are running into the house after school and being welcomed by the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies battling the basil, oregano, and tomato of homemade lasagna. Our childish worries of the day were quickly forgotten as we crowded around and playfully fought over carefully rationing out our delicious dessert.
Three years ago, I decided to take a page from my mom’s book and went on my own (short-lived) exotic adventure. I lived with a Spanish couple for 5 months (Maria Angeles and Jose) in Bilbao, a city in the Basque Country (Northern Spain).
Maria and I had our ups and downs,but learned to accommodate the cultural differences by hashing it out with my broken Spanish and her limited English (She only knew the lyrics to Bon Jovi songs). I started telling her about the household I was raised in and my love for cooking. I particularly enjoyed one dish she made Tortilla de Patatas or Potato Tortilla. It was simple, tasty, and quick. Little did I know I would be greeted after classes by her customary cheek to cheek kisses and an apron! We were going to have an impromptu cooking lesson!
Pour a couple TBS of olive oil in a fry pan. Coarsely chop your onion. Peel and cube potato. Add your potato and onion to the fry pan on medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste Cook mixture about 20 minutes.
In a bowl, beat 3 eggs. Mix eggs with potato and onion. Pour mixture into fry pan. Cook as though you are making an omelet – do not scramble! Flip over in pan after cooking about 5 minutes.
Tip: At this point I usually slide my “omelet” onto a plate cover it with my fry pan and flip it.
The first time I tried flipping this dish without this little trick, I ended up standing in Maria’s tiny kitchen holding a pan with only half my egg dish. The other half not so gracefully plopped on the floor. As my face turned a deep and painful shade of red, Maria’s eyes bulged fixed on the gooey mess. By the time I pealed my eyes away from the disaster and looked to her in shock, her lips curled into a bright smile as she laughingly reeled off unfamiliar Spanish words; this particular incident was the start of my Spanish education in vocabulary Maria said she would deny teaching me if I ever used.
Cook eggs for another 5 minutes or until slightly brown.
A common Spanish tradition is to use French bread to serve a Tapa or as the Basque in Bilbao say Pintxo (appetizer). Slice a loaf of French bread and place a small piece of your Tortilla de Patata on top.