When I was younger, everyone around me used to go to the Spanish costas on vacation in the summer. They’d take the camper and head to a campground on the Costa Brava or later they’d head to a party destination like Salon. And I had to make do with their stories and photos… My parents were satisfied with a trip to Terschelling or touring Friesland on the sailboat. All the great stories my friends came back from Spain with made me curious about Spanish culture – sangria, tapas, and sun… So last year, the time had finally arrived. I went to Spain for the first time with my lover, and we made the most of it. We went to Barcelona and Seville as well as the Spanish countryside. Wow!
The summer weather during the trip was fantastic, so it was the perfect backdrop for getting to know the cities and surrounding areas. And seriously, I really fell in love with the flavorful Spanish cuisine. The Spanish use a lot of fish, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, spices and fruit. It was right up my alley! I couldn’t walk past a single patio without stopping to look at the menu and try something. I now fully understand why the Spanish eat more than three times a day. Ha! The food is incredibly fresh and the portions are smaller than what we are used to. People that live in the area around the Mediterranean Sea usually enjoy quite a well-balanced diet as they rely so much on fresh, local food. They also take more time to prepare and enjoy their food. What’s more, every region in Spain has its own specialties, so there is a real distinction to be made between the Catalan, Galician and Basque cuisines. And though they’re undoubtedly different, they all have one thing in common: the preference for fresh, local, high-quality produce above frozen or pre-packaged vegetables. This is also the result of the mild climate in their areas, which allows them to grow a variety of vegetables with relative ease. You really can taste the freshness right away. When I travelled from Seville to the countryside on the coast, I ate as many fragrant, red tomatoes as I could. They were so deliciously sweet and juicy that I now have a hard time adding cherry tomatoes to my quinoa salad in the winter in the Netherlands. Once you’ve tasted the fresh, sun-ripened Spanish ones, it’s really tough to go back to anything else.
I love Spain! I’m sold on its paella, tortilla, tapas, pintos, fresh fish and flavorful vegetables. You really have to go there in the summer and fully enjoy the (fresh) food culture there. I did, and, what’s also really great, I didn’t put on a single pound! Full of inspiration I came back and made this healthy version of the delicious Spanish Crema Catalana dessert.