This is what Isaac made me for lunch on Saturday:

Arroz con mariscos. Basically seafood paella without the big, round pan. He’s officially the best boyfriend in the world, and an excellent cook to boot!

 

But then again, when Isaac got out of the shower this morning, I had chocolate chip muffins already in the oven…so I guess we’re about even.

 

I have to say, we eat REALLY well. It’s one of the things I most love about Spain in general and Galicia in particular. Galicians love to eat, and, well, so do I!

 

We usually start our days with fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee -in actual mugs with saucers that we drink while sitting at our dining room table and not in the car- and whatever fresh baked thing I’ve come up with lately.

For lunch we have whatever the garden gives us. Today for lunch we had roasted vegetables over rice (tomatoes, onions, peppers, and zucchini). It was DELICIOUS, and the only thing that didn’t come from Isaac’s parents’ farm was the rice.

We get all our eggs from the farm (and sometimes chickens!), as well as a wide variety of fruits and vegetables: peas, green beans, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, pumpkin, favas, spinach, chard, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, plums, lemons, pears, and apples (and there’s probably something else I’m forgetting). It makes us pretty creative too, because when there’s zucchini, there’s a LOT of zucchini, and most of the pumpkins reach an obscenely large size, so we get pretty inventive sometimes.

Dinner for us is generally a tapas affair. More often than we probably should, we just cut a big hunk of semicurado cheese, set out some salami or pepperoni and some olives, and rip off hunks of the baguette we bought (fresh, of course) at lunchtime. In fact, last week, I packed up all of those things for a picnic and we took our dinner to the park when Isaac got home from work (since the sun doesn’t set until about 11pm here in summer, we can still enjoy the evening sunshine!). Now that it’s summer, we also usually have some tinto de verano (red wine mixed with slightly sweetened carbonated water). When we’re feeling ambitious, we fry some pimientos de padrĂ³n in olive oil and salt (“ones are spicy, anothers don’t!” – but that’s a story for another time), or just cut up a ton of fruit into a big bowl and grab forks. Lately I’m into making parmesan flatbread, because it’s so ridiculously simple, I can have it made and out of the oven before we sit down to watch TV. (Okay, we also sometimes just eat popcorn -homemade- or an entire pint of ice cream, but that’s not nearly as glamorous.)

But for me, eating well (that is, eating simple, local, fresh, delicious, unadorned things) is one of the major joys in life, and I have to say, I’m very happy.

Summer in Galicia

Talking to Isaac the other day, I realized that this is the first time I’ll spend the entire summer in Spain. Somehow, I’ve always ended up either in the States or traveling somewhere else during the summer months.
Which is a shame, because summer is the absolute best time in Galicia. I mean, first, there’s San Juan, a festival where we burn a bunch of stuff, jump over the bonfire, and eat sardines:

And then there are the beaches:

And the food:

Oops! How’d that get there? That’s another one of my imperialistic moments – the 4th of July flag cake I made for Isaac’s family. Yes, it’s an American flag.

I’m especially looking forward to lobsterfest, and tortillafest, and winefest, and pepperfest, and…are you sensing a theme here? Galicia has literally hundreds of food festivals in summer, honoring everything from clams to liquor. Then there are music festivals, and sunny days, and summer schedule (which means Isaac comes home early on Fridays!), and ribs on the grill (Spanish style), not to mention Santiago’s biggest party of the year.

Why haven’t I spent a whole summer here until now? I don’t know either!

Hamburger Imperialism

I studied anthropology, you know.

 

I’m all about accepting other cultures, and relativism, and trying new things, and that nothing is “good” or “bad”, but simply “different”.

 

Unless we’re talking about hamburgers. There’s a right way to make hamburgers, and there’s a wrong way, and I can unequivocally say that the Spaniards do it WRONG.

 

I’m here to correct them and show them the light.

 

The right way to do hamburgers:

1. 100% ALL BEEF PATTY. There should be nothing but beef in your hamburger. Nothing. It should be thick, and grilled, or at least somehow charred. I only put Worchestershire, salt, and pepper in mine.

2. Lettuce. Tomato. Pickles. Onions. You might not like all of these, but they should at least be options.

3. Cheddar cheese. Yeah, there are haute cuisine hamburgers that use all kinds of different cheeses nowadays, but if you’re talking about a classic, old-fashioned, 100% American-style burger, it better be yellow cheddar. The yellower, the betterer.

4. Ketchup and mustard. And/or. There are NO OTHER OPTIONS. (Okay, I really like barbecue sauce but I recognize this is not the traditional way, and barbecue sauce is also American, so it’s okay.)

 

Now, the WRONG (Spanish) WAY to make hamburgers.

1. Pork/veal meat mix. Very bad. (I think they’ve taken the “ham” part of hamburger a little too literally.) Pork, as “the other white meat”, has a tendency to turn gray, especially when ground, resulting in a lumpy and extremely unappetizing patty. And there are never any grill or char marks, which makes me wonder just how Spanish restaurants cook their hamburgers anyway.

2. White, unidentifiable cheese. There’s a kind of presliced sandwich cheese you can buy at the store that’s called “made in Galicia cheese”. There’s no more description than that. And yet, the lack of description says it all, doesn’t it?

3. MAYONNAISE. I hate mayonnaise and don’t believe it should go on any sandwich but a BLT, but it ESPECIALLY should not go on a hamburger. That’s WRONG.

4. No pickles? No onion? NO HAMBURGER BUN? Basically, you’re left with a ground meat patty on bread with lettuce and tomato. Hamburgross.

5. And the kicker…NO EGG. Yeah, Kuma’s Corner in Chicago has a great burger with egg on it, but they specialize in weird and different burgers, and have proven they know how to make them the right way so they are allowed to break the rules. But if you’re just serving up a classic burger without a cute and creative name and you don’t have a world-famous reputation, it better not have egg anywhere near it.

 

My American friend Jill, who has lived here so long she’s really more Galician than anything, has accepted this fact. She says the Spanish way is just a different (and equally tasty) way of making hamburgers, and she likes the egg on it. But we know she’s wrong.

 

I’m still working on Jill, but I was at least able to save Isaac’s family from the darkness of bad hamburgers on the 4th of July, when my imperialistic American instincts kicked in and I decided there was no better way to christen his parents’ new barbecue than with awesome American hamburgers. They went fast. Pablo ate four. I didn’t even get pictures. I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not. Somewhere out there are eight people who now know what they’ve been missing. They’re on the right path. My work here is done.