Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Semester Abroad: Barcelona, Spain

Next semester, I will be studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain for four months. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and is located on the northeastern coast facing the Mediterranean Sea. I've been to Spain once and immediately fell in love with the country.  What I loved most about my time there was the amazing food! Everything I ate was so fresh and delicious and I never had a bad meal. The Spanish food you find in the United States is nothing compared to what you find in Spain. I will also be taking a Spanish Food, Wine and Culture class while I'm abroad so I will really get to know authentic Spanish cuisine. Spain is known for their tapas and tapas bars can be found all over the region where you can stop in for a quick bite to eat. Tapas are small appetizers or snacks that are served cold or hot. Below are a few of my favorites that I can't wait to eat more of and even learn how to make for myself!

Paella is a rice based dish that is cooked with a medley of fish, meats and vegetables. Chorzio, spicy Spanish sausage, is often incorporated to give the dish a kick as well as saffron, a rare and often expensive Spanish spice. It is similar to risotto, but not as creamy and contains much more ingredients than a risotto typically has. Check out this paella recipe!

Tortilla Española is also a popular tapa and does not involve any tortillas despite the name. It is a thick omelette made with eggs and potatoes that is fried in oil. Again, there are many variations as some recipes add vegetables or meats. Think of it as our version of a frittata! Try this simple tortilla Española recipe!

Croquetas are another common tapa that is essentially a fried ball of deliciousness. The outside is crispy while the inside is filled with a gooey bechamel sauce. Many variations include the addition of meats, like ham or chicken.

Spanish dishes usually involve a lot of meat, especially ham. They are famous for their jamón (ham) Serrano which typically comes from the Landrace breed of white pigs. It usually takes about six- eighteen months for the hame to cure depending on the size of the pig. The ham is usually sliced extremely thin and served cold as an appetizer. The saltiness and texture of the meat is comparable to prosciutto.

While abroad, I will be living in an apartment with a fully furnished kitchen. Hopefully I will master the art of Spanish cooking using the freshest ingredients available from the incredible array of outdoor markets. 

Have you been to Spain before? What was your favorite Spanish tapa? Do you know of any good tapas bars in Barcelona? I'd love to hear from you!

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