Several years ago Mike and I spent a few happy days in Andalusia. We had been visiting Navarra and the Basque Country, the land of my paternal ancestors, and had suffered through storms and incessant rain. Finally we had enough and headed south in search for a warm sun and Moorish treasures. We found both in Andalusia, as well as vibrant cities that we remember fondly.
We enjoyed our stay in the region very much. We loved the great mosque in Cordoba, were awed by the magnificence of al-Alhambra, anointed each other at the cathedral in Seville and even found time to attend a bullfight (a horrible event, by all means, I would never go again). What we didn't find in Andalusia was good food. After the culinary delights of the Basque region, Andalusian food tasted flat and boring.
The problem, of course, might not have been with Andalusian food itself. We were traveling in a (very small) budget and therefore sought relatively cheap restaurants. In the Basque country, this had meant tapa bars and restaurants mostly patronized by the locals (they had to be, we saw very few tourists in many of the Basque cities during our stay). In Andalusia, however, it mostly meant restaurants catering to budget travelers like us - they advertised their prices, not their culinary refinement.
With this in mind, I approached Andalusian food with great hope but some hesitations. Hope, because I found recipes for many dishes that sounded delicious. Hesitations for the reasons explained above. I shouldn't have had them - while not every dish I cooked worked, most of them were very good and I would make them again whenever I'd want to treat a friend (or myself!).
I made Andalusian food for a small dinner party. I wanted to try as many recipes as possible, so I decided to start the meal by serving four different tapas (these are small dishes usually served in bars to accompany your drink). I would then follow with an obligatory gazpacho and finally serve a main dish and dessert. This proved a little bit too much food (which meant leftovers - yuum!), and I spent a little bit too much time in the kitchen, but I think that all in all it worked out great. Note, however, that 3 of the tapas I made need to be cooked soon before they are served - they may not be the best choice if you need to be giving all your attention to your guests.
One final note. Andalucía is spelled with a "c" in Spanish but is most commonly spelled with an "s" in English, however. This got me hopelessly confused and I've spelled it in different ways throughout the website. My apologies.
The final menu I made consisted of:
The original wine cooler - it's wonderful and refreshing. Plan to make a couple of pitchers.
Tortillitas de Camarones
Friend shrimp cakes
Buñuelos de Queso y Sésamo
Cheese and Sesame Seed Puffs
Albóndigas con Picada de Almendra
Meatballs in an Almond Sauce
A cold tomato soup
Rabo de Toro
A savory oxtail stew
A delicate caramel custard.
Andalusian Food Links
- Bibliography - cookbooks I used