Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Are the Spanish eating their vegetables?

Spanish

  • Please log in to reply
35 replies to this topic

#1 mielimato

mielimato
  • participating member
  • 5 posts

Posted 16 June 2008 - 04:55 PM

Currently, Spain has arguably the best seafood and pork products in the Western world. Yet when it comes to how vegetables are treated, it is a sad state of affairs. What breaks my heart is that walking through the markets in Spain one is confronted by some of the best produce in the world. But what gives you wonder at the market bears little resemblance to what is served at the table—bland, textureless vegetables that have been so overcooked that might as well have come from the freezer.

Salads are lackluster—some lettuce, tomatoes, a few olives and onions. No interesting lettuce variety or inventive dressing. Peas and favas are almost always stewed with sausages to the point where the vegetable retains none of it delicate flavor. The most common way of cooking spinach, swiss chard, broad beans or cabbage is to boil for 20 plus minutes until it is mushy an textureless. Then it is often sautéed in pork fat as if the goal is to extract out the flavor of the vegetable so that you can cover it up with the taste of meat. I can understand how vegetables like eggplant, peppers and artichokes may benefit from being cooked in this slow-simmered approach but why would you do this to green vegetables?

Am I missing something? My experience is mainly with Cataluña and Andalusia. Maybe vegetables are treated differently in the north. Are things different in the Basque country, Galicia, Asturias, or Cantabria?

How can a cuisine reach such amazing heights in terms of its treatment of seafood and meat and simultaneously be so behind the times in its treatment of vegetables?

#2 docsconz

docsconz
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 9,806 posts
  • Location:Upstate NY

Posted 16 June 2008 - 05:21 PM

I think that you must be eating in the wrong places! :raz: While Spanish cuisine may not be as vegetable friendly as some others, I have enjoyed a number of good vegetables throughout Spain, especially at the higher end. For example, I love the pimientos de padrone I had in the Boqueria and the vegetable platings from Maria Jose San Roman at Monastrell. In addition beans are rarely treated as well as those in the paella at Levante.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#3 helenjp

helenjp
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,232 posts

Posted 16 June 2008 - 07:59 PM

I have certainly heard this before...was it son's guitar teacher who told me that his guitar teacher in Spain maintained that tobacco was the only leafy vegetable needed?!

#4 docsconz

docsconz
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 9,806 posts
  • Location:Upstate NY

Posted 16 June 2008 - 08:23 PM

I have certainly heard this before...was it son's guitar teacher who told me that his guitar teacher in Spain maintained that tobacco was the only leafy vegetable needed?!

View Post


It is certainly a stereotype, but is less true today than it ever was. While maybe not universal in Spain, there is much good vegetable cookery going on.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#5 Rogelio

Rogelio
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 640 posts
  • Location:Madrid

Posted 17 June 2008 - 12:04 AM

Melimato, I understand your point and partially agree with you, but there are some places, specially in Navarra where they know how to cook their vegetables, I'm thinking about El 33 in Tudela or Maher in Citruénigo.

Edited by Rogelio, 17 June 2008 - 07:00 AM.

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"

#6 Pablo Carrion

Pablo Carrion
  • participating member
  • 34 posts

Posted 17 June 2008 - 04:05 PM

i have to agree mostly with that point, and if not try being on a vegetarian diet in spain... you will really get to know the ensalada mixta crossed with its asparagus (and make sure they hold the tuna and the eggs, please!), patatas bravas, pimientos...beyond that you better start closely interrogating the staff as to the menestra sauteed with ham, ditto the beans, peas or artichokes...which could be lireally swimming in pork fat... to give it flavour...

Ok I may be exagerating, and one exception would be the grilled vegetable plate which is most often a delight.

However, I ceratinly believe that we dont do as much justice as we could in the kitchen when it comes to the extraordinary vegetables that are available throughout spain.

And I believe that its the case in general with local vegetables, not only in this country.

#7 docsconz

docsconz
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 9,806 posts
  • Location:Upstate NY

Posted 17 June 2008 - 05:48 PM

i have to agree mostly with that point, and if not try being on a vegetarian diet in spain... you will really get to know the ensalada mixta crossed with its asparagus (and make sure they hold the tuna and the eggs, please!), patatas bravas, pimientos...beyond that you better start closely interrogating the staff as to the menestra sauteed with ham, ditto the beans, peas or artichokes...which could be lireally swimming in pork fat... to give it flavour...

Ok I may be exagerating, and one exception would be the grilled vegetable plate which is most often a delight.

However, I ceratinly believe that we dont do as much justice as we could in the kitchen when it comes to the extraordinary vegetables that are available throughout spain.

And I believe that its the case in general with local vegetables, not only in this country.

View Post


I certainly would not want to be a vegetarian in Spain, but that is much different than saying that Spaniards can't cook vegetables. They may not be the stars of the plate, but I have enjoyed some very, very good supporting performances. I happen to like meat with my vegetables. :laugh:
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#8 mielimato

mielimato
  • participating member
  • 5 posts

Posted 18 June 2008 - 03:56 PM

Making such a general statement always gets you into problems...I don't want to say that well-cooked vegetables do not exist. I love escalivada, pimentos de padron and samfina. And the occasional boiled plate of vegetables can make a nice foil to a plate of fried salty fish. I once had a delicious peas and black butifarra dish at Hispania where the peas were were still small and young (not too old and chalky). They were perfectly cooked so that they exploded in your mouth with all their sugary sweetness. That was a good day!

I am interested, however, in vegetable dishes from the North. I imagine that they must eat more greens in Galicia, Austurias and Cantabria. Are there any special dishes or vegetables that I should know about? I am going to Galicia for a week in August. We will have our own kitchen and hope to make a few trips to the market. Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

#9 mielimato

mielimato
  • participating member
  • 5 posts

Posted 18 June 2008 - 03:58 PM

Melimato, I understand your point and partially agree with you, but there are some places, specially in Navarra where they know how to cook their vegetables, I'm thinking about El 33 in Tudela or Maher in Citruénigo.

View Post


I am going up North this August so I will try to check out those places. Looking forward to it! Thank you!

#10 vserna

vserna
  • participating member
  • 1,245 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 20 June 2008 - 04:06 AM

I couldn't disagree more with the whole subject, and I've only been reviewing restaurants for national Spanish newspapers for the past 27 years. The main distinguishing feature of vegetables in Spain's cuisines is that they tend to be served separately, often as first courses, and not so much as garnishes to meat or fish dishes. And indeed we have this mean, mean tendency to add some cubes of Ibérico ham (rich in monounsaturated fat and therefore 'almost like a vegetable oil', for those who want to know about these things). But otherwise, the use of vegetables in Spanish restaurants, both of the traditional and the modern persuasions, has increased about tenfold since I first began covering the scene here, and vegetables have always been a major part of the Spanish heritage of home cookery.

So in Spain we do, regularly and copiously, eat a huge array of vegetables, some quite uncommon: borage, Jerusalem artichokes, fresh regular artichokes (possibly the best in the world), twice-peeled broad beans (that's fava beans to you Americans), wild and cultivated green asparagus, tender monster-size white asparagus, fresh green and mangetout (that's snow peas to you Americans) peas, cardoons, bladder campions (the delicate wild green known as 'colleja' in Spanish), blinks (the mineral-tasting, tiny cousin of the watercress called 'corujas ' or 'pamplinas' in Spanish), chard stalks, fried aubergines (that's eggplant to you Americans), courgette crisps or stews (that's zucchini to you Americans), sautéed spinach with pine nuts and raisins, collard greens, cauliflower au gratin - not to mention Spain's unique trove of dried vegetables, or pulses if you will: kidney beans of all persuasions, green or brown lentils and chick peas (that's garbanzo beans to you Americans). Not to mention rice, rice and more rice!

Some notable vegetable dishes I've reviewed in recent months in Madrid restaurants include the 'puerros acompotados con espinacas tiernas, piñones y sal de jamón' (compote of leeks with tender spinach, pine nuts and ham salt), at Senzone; the aubergine tempura, at La Musa de Espronceda; the 'pisto manchego' (La Mancha's ratatouille - one of many La Mancha vegetable dishes!) with poached free range eggs at Zorzal; the Spanish 'toltilla' (a dim sum of poached onion and potatoes, quail's egg and an emulsion of red chilies and pinto beans, acoompanied by tea aromatized with rum, coconut and chilies), at Diverxo; the dry-fried Padrón green peppers, at Naveira do Mar; the wide roast Bierzo peppers, at Prada a Tope; the 'calçotada' (fire-charred tender scallions, eaten with a spicy almond.-based 'romescu' dip), at Can Punyetes; the Palencia 'menestra' (fresh mixed vegetable stew), at Támara-Casa Lorenzo; the fresh sautéed Asturias 'arbeyos' (green peas), at El Oso; the León-style, courgette-based 'pisto', at El Cardeño; the spinach-filled 'croquetas' at Platina Café; the Russian salad, at Sylkar and at Samm; the white bean-and-mixed vegetables soup, at Aldaba...
Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

#11 docsconz

docsconz
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 9,806 posts
  • Location:Upstate NY

Posted 20 June 2008 - 11:39 AM

Great post!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#12 mielimato

mielimato
  • participating member
  • 5 posts

Posted 11 August 2008 - 04:39 PM

I couldn't disagree more with the whole subject, and I've only been reviewing restaurants for national Spanish newspapers for the past 27 years. The main distinguishing feature of vegetables in Spain's cuisines is that they tend to be served separately, often as first courses, and not so much as garnishes to meat or fish dishes. And indeed we have this mean, mean tendency to add some cubes of Ibérico ham (rich in monounsaturated fat and therefore 'almost like a vegetable oil', for those who want to know about these things). But otherwise, the use of vegetables in Spanish restaurants, both of the traditional and the modern persuasions, has increased about tenfold since I first began covering the scene here, and vegetables have always been a major part of the Spanish heritage of home cookery.

So in Spain we do, regularly and copiously, eat a huge array of vegetables, some quite uncommon: borage, Jerusalem artichokes, fresh regular artichokes (possibly the best in the world), twice-peeled broad beans (that's fava beans to you Americans), wild and cultivated green asparagus, tender monster-size white asparagus, fresh green and mangetout (that's snow peas to you Americans) peas, cardoons, bladder campions (the delicate wild green known as 'colleja' in Spanish), blinks (the mineral-tasting, tiny cousin of the watercress called 'corujas ' or 'pamplinas' in Spanish), chard stalks, fried aubergines (that's eggplant to you Americans), courgette crisps or stews (that's zucchini to you Americans), sautéed spinach with pine nuts and raisins, collard greens, cauliflower au gratin  - not to mention Spain's unique trove of dried vegetables, or pulses if you will: kidney beans of all persuasions, green or brown lentils and chick peas (that's garbanzo beans to you Americans). Not to mention rice, rice and more rice!

Some notable vegetable dishes I've reviewed in recent months in Madrid restaurants include the 'puerros acompotados con espinacas tiernas, piñones y sal de jamón' (compote of leeks with tender spinach, pine nuts and ham salt), at Senzone; the aubergine tempura, at La Musa de Espronceda; the 'pisto manchego' (La Mancha's ratatouille - one of many La Mancha vegetable dishes!) with poached free range eggs at Zorzal; the Spanish 'toltilla' (a dim sum of poached onion and potatoes, quail's egg and an emulsion of red chilies and pinto beans, acoompanied by tea aromatized with rum, coconut and chilies), at Diverxo; the dry-fried Padrón green peppers, at Naveira do Mar; the wide roast Bierzo peppers, at Prada a Tope; the 'calçotada' (fire-charred tender scallions, eaten with a spicy almond.-based 'romescu' dip), at Can Punyetes; the Palencia 'menestra' (fresh mixed vegetable stew), at Támara-Casa Lorenzo; the fresh sautéed Asturias 'arbeyos' (green peas), at El Oso; the León-style, courgette-based 'pisto', at El Cardeño; the spinach-filled 'croquetas' at Platina Café; the Russian salad, at Sylkar and at Samm; the white bean-and-mixed vegetables soup, at Aldaba...

View Post



My experience does not come from 27 years of food writing and dining in Spain but from eating, cooking and living in Spain for the past 10 years. And from this perspective, I have often found the markets and home-cooking to be much more limited, although I can’t say the same thing for meat and seafood dishes. Many of the vegetables you talk about are actually difficult to find in the local markets in Barcelona and in the Maresme (which are my two points of references), mainly because they are still new to the population and not widely consumed. It is not easy to those white monster-sized asparagus in the markets that is not already preserved in a can or a jar. Outside of broad beans, snow peas, sugar peas, pea shoots and pea tendrils are still considered exotic items and difficult to find. Collard greens and kale, which are common in Galicia, are again difficult to find in regions outside of Galicia. This is surprising when you consider that even the smallest markets outside of Galicia are always well stocked with fresh seafood from the North.

I certainly agree that there are many great places in Spain that prepare vegetables well and that Spanish treatment of vegetables, both with respect to how it’s prepared “traditionally” and with respect to its many modern reincarnations, has improved over the years. Spain has some of the best of the best restaurants that are fully capable of producing creative and tasty ways of preparing vegetables that preserve the integrity of the produce. But I am not sure that examining how top, cutting edge restaurants prepare vegetables is the best way to measure a nation’s penchant towards preparing vegetables badly.

p.s. I fail to see why my nationality should matter but since you found it necessary to raise the point, my point of reference is not limited to the Americas, as you seem to imply, but originates from East Asia (that’s 5,000 years of culinary history to you Europeans).

#13 vserna

vserna
  • participating member
  • 1,245 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:21 PM

You have to find better markets, mielimato. The Boquería, for instance. And there are no better green peas anywhere in the world than the Maresme's in early spring. Also, I'd say that you certainly have to meet friends who cook better at home than the dreadful stuff you are reporting!

By the way: noweher in your first post did you mention you were talking about home cooking. (Generalizations are possible vis-'a-vis restaurants, but they are a lot riskier in the wildly varied world of real-life home cooking.) And nowhere in my first post did I mention or infer anything about your nationality, so I have strictly no idea where you're coming from on that score. When I say 'to you Americans', I mean the vast majority of eGullet participants, of course, who aren't used to broad beans or courgettes.

For your information: Zorzal, Naveira do Mar, Prada a Tope, Can Punyetes, Támara-Casa Lorenzo, El Oso, El Cardeño, Platina Café, Sylkar, Samm and Aldaba are anything but "cutting edge restaurants". They're as down home and traditional as they come.

One final point: I disagree with your notion that green vegetables must necessarily be undercooked to be tasty and attractive. That's a modern/Asian concept that's very widespread these days, but once you've tasted a great Basque menestra you will know that 'al dente' is not the only acceptable culinary proposition in the vegetable world.
Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

#14 Adam Balic

Adam Balic
  • participating member
  • 4,882 posts

Posted 14 August 2008 - 03:49 PM

My observation would be that there appeared to be plentiful amounts of vegetables in excellent condition at the markets in Cadiz, Jerez and even smaller cities like Sanlúcar. Somebody is eating these and judging from some of the unusual items I saw (especially various wild thistles/milk thistles), some effort is put into obtaining them and they are prized items.

I guess one thing to consider is personal preference vs an empirical measure of what is "best".

I wonder what percentage of foreign reviews on general Spanish food comments in the use of green/unripe tomatoes in salad? This is always given as a negative example of vegetable use, but is it?

While we are on the topic of Spanish veg., I must confess that I quite like some canned Spanish vegetables, especially peppers and white asparagus. In regards to the latter, I consider it a different item to the fresh and simply like it for itself.

Ooof, confessions of enjoying non-al dente and canned vegetables, I imagine this makes me a Philistine...

#15 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,626 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 14 August 2008 - 04:44 PM

I couldn't disagree more with the whole subject, and I've only been reviewing restaurants for national Spanish newspapers for the past 27 years. [T]he use of vegetables in Spanish restaurants, both of the traditional and the modern persuasions, has increased about tenfold since I first began covering the scene here[.]

View Post

So, Victor, if the last three decades have seen an order-of-magnitude increase, does that not speak to mielimato's point, at least in relation to the previous thirty years? And what has happened since 1980 or so that has caused this change?
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#16 Silly Disciple

Silly Disciple
  • participating member
  • 532 posts
  • Location:Barcelona, Spain

Posted 17 August 2008 - 02:47 AM

Many of the vegetables you talk about are actually difficult to find in the local markets in Barcelona and in the Maresme (which are my two points of references), mainly because they are still new to the population and not widely consumed.  It is not easy to those white monster-sized asparagus in the markets that is not already preserved in a can or a jar.  Outside of broad beans, snow peas, sugar peas, pea shoots and pea tendrils are still considered exotic items and difficult to find.  Collard greens and kale, which are common in Galicia, are again difficult to find in regions outside of Galicia.  This is surprising when you consider that even the smallest markets outside of Galicia are always well stocked with fresh seafood from the North. 


You're kidding, right? What markets are you buying from? Have you been to La Boqueria at all? I think there's not one day I'm not surprised by the quality and variety of produce there. I run into previously unkown (to me) vegetable varieties all the time, and if you take the time to look around and develop a relationship with the grocers you'll be rewarded with excellent examples of the products Victor mentions, and much more.
We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.
My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

#17 vserna

vserna
  • participating member
  • 1,245 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 18 August 2008 - 02:37 PM

if the last three decades have seen an order-of-magnitude increase, does that not speak to mielimato's point, at least in relation to the previous thirty years? And what has happened since 1980 or so that has caused this change?

View Post

1) Please re-read mielimato's opening post - it certainly refers to the present state of affairs, not to culinary evolution: "Currently, Spain has arguably the best seafood and pork products in the Western world. Yet when it comes to how vegetables are treated, it is a sad state of affairs."

2) I first arrived in New York in mid-August, 1963. I just happen to be in New York right now - 45 years later. I can't tell you how much the culinary scene has changed since that day. But you already know that, don't you? So - what's so extraordinary about Spain's (or any other country's) culinary scene changing drastically over 30 years? There's more money, more health awareness, more product availability.

Back in 1980, there was a Barcelona teenager named Ferran Adrià who hardly knew how to fry an egg. And back then, the Michelin guide was still warning tourists to be wary of that dreadful, olive-oil based Spanish cuisine...
Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

#18 Harters

Harters
  • participating member
  • 1,087 posts
  • Location:North Cheshire, UK

Posted 08 November 2008 - 11:25 AM

I visit Mallorca more than other parts of Spain and it's in the traditional vegetable dishes that I often find most enjoyment - tombet, coca, sopas mallorquin, trempo, frit de verduras (although, in truth, I prefer the very meaty frit de matances) .

But, I agree, go to a restaurant and you are likely to be disappointed in not seeing them too often (except, perhaps, poor quality versions in touristy places). The brother in law explains it thus - veggie dishes came about from the times of poverty when folk couldnt afford meat so, if you can afford to be eating in restaurant, you are not poor, therefore why would you not want to eat meat or fish.
John Hartley

#19 vserna

vserna
  • participating member
  • 1,245 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 12 November 2008 - 01:00 PM

go to a restaurant and you are likely to be disappointed in not seeing them too often  (...) veggie dishes came about from the times of poverty when folk couldnt afford meat so, if you can afford to be eating in restaurant, you are not poor, therefore why would you not want to eat meat or fish.

View Post

a. You're going to the wrong restaurants.

b. That's an original explanation, but untrue. There were far fewer vegetable dishes in Spanish restaurants in times of poverty (i.e., basically a half-century ago - too long ago for most people on this board to remember) than there are now.
Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

#20 Harters

Harters
  • participating member
  • 1,087 posts
  • Location:North Cheshire, UK

Posted 13 November 2008 - 03:24 PM

Well, I can only recount what the brother in law told me. He's Mallorcan; I'm not. But, please, do not suggest that a family member would tell me an untruth - your remark offends.

As to the restaurants I visit in Mallorca, I am happy to accept I may be visiting the "wrong" restaurants to find good quality "traditional" vegetable based dishes. I'd welcome recommendations (and I'm sure the brother in law would also).

Edited by Harters, 13 November 2008 - 03:26 PM.

John Hartley

#21 vserna

vserna
  • participating member
  • 1,245 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 15 November 2008 - 05:58 AM

do not suggest that a family member would tell me an untruth - your remark offends.

View Post

I am only suggesting that I'm writing from Spain, and old enough, so I have only to rely on my own memories.

There are always quite a few lovely vegetable dishes in traditional restaurants on the island.

Edited by vserna, 15 November 2008 - 06:05 AM.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

#22 Harters

Harters
  • participating member
  • 1,087 posts
  • Location:North Cheshire, UK

Posted 15 November 2008 - 12:28 PM

OK, I accept that your intent was not to offend.

I've no real wish to be pedantic here and, as I'm sure you've reread my original contribution which indicates that I enjoy eating vegetable based dishes on the island, it looks like we are well on the way to agreement. You can correctly infer from that contribution that I've found good places where I can eat them.

Based on that, I re-iterate my point that they are not often found on the menus of the better restaurants and, all too often, it's a touristy version on offer. And, that, my friend, is based my experience and my memories.

And, of course, why would anyone expect them to be? It's a rare treat when you do find them? As we know, it is most rare that "poor people's domestic food" finds its way onto the menus of "good" restaurants anywhere. It's not why folk go to eat out, generally speaking. It's something I'd say about my own country's food and its something my relative would say about his. Surely no disagreement from anyone on that?
John Hartley

#23 muichoi

muichoi
  • legacy participant
  • 599 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 27 December 2008 - 02:55 PM

One final point: I disagree with your notion that green vegetables must necessarily be undercooked to be tasty and attractive. That's a modern/Asian concept that's very widespread these days, but once you've tasted a great Basque menestra you will know that 'al dente' is not the only acceptable culinary proposition in the vegetable world.

View Post


I couldn't agree more-undercooking is the only way to make inferior produce acceptable but the glorious vegetables still sometimes to be found in Spain and Italy effortlessly deal with traditional techniques.

#24 MoGa

MoGa
  • participating member
  • 213 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 13 March 2009 - 05:04 AM

Not one mention of Murcia on this thread.

I admit I don't go to many restaurants in Murcia, but when it comes to dining at people's homes there is no end to the divine vegetable based dishes on offer.

I don't think there's a better place to eat vegetables than Spain's 'Huerta'. And I'm reliably informed that local chefs have caught up with the times and are finally offering traditional food that was never typically offered in restaurants (no matter how long your memory is) at rather extravagant prices.

But it's unlikely that I will be commenting on their skills from first hand experience in the foreseeable future, when people I know can cook so well, there's just no incentive. The last potaje I had in Murcia (pumpkin, various beans and legumes, potatoes, onions and pears with olive oil) was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten and the area is noted for its 'paella' style vegetable rice dishes, amongst many, many others.

¡Viva la Huerta de Murcia!

#25 amm1984

amm1984
  • participating member
  • 2 posts

Posted 25 April 2009 - 02:40 AM

I live in Granada, and I have always found an offering of vegetables, cooked well and in various ways, at restaurants. I think where they may be more likely dismissed is in tapas bars, but even there I have been served roasted pepper salads, pisto, and remojón (a delicious salad of bacalao/cod, tomato, and oranges). In the menú del dia, which is usually a 3 course meal in the middle of the day (lunch) ranging between 9-25 euros, I have always seen various options of vegetable dishes, even plates where they are the main focus- gazpacho, grilled vegetables, salmorejo, fried eggplant with honey or molasses, stuffed piquillo peppers, etc. From my experience and people I have spoken with, vegetables in Spain are highly regarded and there is a lot of respect and demand for fresh ingredients in both domestic and professional cooking.

#26 vserna

vserna
  • participating member
  • 1,245 posts
  • Location:Madrid, Spain

Posted 11 May 2009 - 12:45 AM

I see there are new additions from Murcia and Granada - two terrific vegetable places indeed - to this old thread, which really makes me happy because they further debunk the thread's initial assertion...
Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

#27 Reignking

Reignking
  • participating member
  • 600 posts

Posted 11 May 2009 - 09:30 AM

I think there is a fundamental issue here -- we foreigners may have a different set of expectations when it comes to vegetables (or anything, really) but you are speaking from "27 years of experience".

The OP begins with talking about a salad; would anyone here really think about salad when eating in Spain?

I always found the food in Spain to be focused on some great ingredients -- jamon, olives, seafood, bread, cheese, piquillo peppers -- and not necessarily vegetable dishes. Most of the time I was eating tapas, or just a bocadillo or a menu; the vegetable to me often seemed to be an afterthought. I recall one time, in an obscure restaurant for lunch around the corner from my office, getting favas, and they were heavily stewed. To me, they seemed like an afterthought; I was hoping for something freshly prepared, that's all.

As I was saying, we all have different expectations and experiences from which to draw on. If you were to say the same thing about the US, I would probably think you were crazy, too -- but I never go out to a restaurant based on what they do with veggies, either :)

Best veggies that I had while in Spain? Grilled green onions, piquillo peppers, olives, white asparagus was interesting...unsurprisingly, I can't recall much more -- but I can certainly remember every bite of bellota.

Now I'm hungry.

#28 Ansley

Ansley
  • participating member
  • 2 posts

Posted 12 January 2011 - 04:38 AM

I have been living in Murcia for two years now and can attest to the fact that vegetables are often the stars of local cuisine. Many restaurants offer a parillada de verduras, a heaping plate of fresh vegetables -- red peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, thinly-sliced artichokes -- seared a la plancha and seasoned with olive oil and sea salt. I have had excellent versions at Los Toneles (a bodega), La Pequeña Taberna (a bit more upscale) and Mesón de Angel (homestyle cooking). Some other popular vegetable dishes found in most tapas bars and restaurants include pisto, morcilla de verano (made with eggplant and pine nuts), zarangollo (a zucchini and onion scramble), and the potaje and vegetable rice dish (arroz con verduras) mentioned my MoGa. I never feel short-changed in terms of vegetables here.

#29 weinoo

weinoo
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,443 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 12 January 2011 - 08:44 AM

On our recent trip to Barcelona, my wife and I often commented on the lack of vegetables served as accompaniments.

Oh sure, you can get your fried artichoke hearts, your marinated artichokes, your olives - but salads, fuggetaboutit.

It amazed us because there is some spectacular looking produce in the markets.
Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"
mweinstein@eGstaff.org
Tasty Travails - My Blog
My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs
Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

#30 Parigi

Parigi
  • participating member
  • 58 posts

Posted 12 January 2011 - 11:32 AM

Living in Paris, we eat a lot of fresh vegetables although we are not vegetarian. In our frequent travels to Barcelona, we never noticed a lack of vegetables in restaurants. The salads seem to be mainly a simple salad for clearing the palate, which is fine with me. I personally like cooked (not overcooked) vegetables.
In the Barcelona markets, vegetables are plenty and fabulous. Shopping in markets then cooking at home is a delight.
This perceived absence of vegetable is a big mystery to me.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Spanish