The Man and I went to Southern Spain last year – one week for not more than a hundred quid each. We expected exciting things from the food (I had heard tales of wondrous puds involving fried custard), but apart from a some tasty sweet breads (with pine nuts and vanilla sauces), there wasn’t too much to get thrilled about. I’m not dissing Spain here at all. Not really. In fact, I should probably blame myself: if I hadn’t smashed my foot into a rock on our first evening swim, I might have been able to explore more bakeries. As it was, I spent three days with my foot on a cushion.
Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent here. About a month after our return, my ma went to Spain as well. A different part though this time: somewhere around the Alhambra. She bought us back a couple of treats: some lemon turron (a dense traditional nougat, which we have yet to crack into) and an exciting packet of crispy bread, hand-made by artisans in a countryside spot, each one wrapped in thick wax paper.
Last week, I was looking for an accompaniment to my soup, so I thought I’d get the bread out. To my surprise, it was sweet.
Turns out my Spanish is even worse than I thought. Probably about as good as my Mandarin, if I’m honest. What I expected would be a salty bread infused with rosemary was actually a very thin wafer, covered in granules of sugar and caraway seeds. Or, according to the online Spanish to English machine: ‘You Legitimize Them and Reputable Cakes of Oil of Ines Rosebushes’.
A further translation revealed that: ‘By the exclusive use of the olive oil virgin of upper quality, that confers the benefits of a healthy diet and by spaladar unique, that offers its elaboracion artesenal, a to a. The expert hands of our operatives (farming and liadoras) they transform portions of masses in the exclusive Cakes of Oil, that homeadas and coolings are wrapped in their original role. ‘
So there you go.
Whatever they are, they’re not the best match for beetroot soup.
They are quite nice with other things though, and have made up my post-lunch treat for the last few days (the Man won’t have them so they’re all mine – he’s not too keen on aniseedy flavours). I like to break them up, mixing the shards with natural yoghurt and sliced banana. They have the texture of delicate pastry – seriously crisp – and the oil makes them almost juicy. Not quite as exciting as fried custard, however. When Spain gives me that then it’s back in the game. And possibly riding in pole position.