The potato tortilla is one of the most iconic dishes of Andalusian cuisine, a thick and flavorful omelet that encapsulates centuries of history and tradition.
Its roots are ancient and go back to the time of the conquest of the Aztec empire by the Spanish. According to some accounts, the Aztecs used to make corn tortillas with eggs from various birds, which they sold in the markets of their capital, Tenochtitlán. The Spaniards, intrigued by this food, adopted it and modified it to suit their tastes, replacing corn with potatoes, a plant native to South America that they had discovered thanks to the Incas.
It is said, however, that the dish was introduced by General Tomás de Zumalacárregui of Bilbao, who used to have Spanish soldiers prepare the dish since it was very nutritious and satiating, during the Carlist wars. Soon thus the potato tortilla spread among peasant families, who prepared it with humble and easily available ingredients: potatoes, eggs, oil and salt. Sometimes onion was also added, to give it a sweeter and more aromatic touch.
Often what we most love and consider a cult dish of a nation to absolutely try has these contexts as its origins.
Today the potato tortilla is a ubiquitous dish in Spanish, and particularly Andalusian, gastronomy. It can be found in any bar or restaurant, served as a tapa, as a main course or as a sandwich.
Preparing it is very simple, cut the potatoes into cubes and fry them in plenty of oil with the onions, then combine them with the beaten eggs and cook everything in a nonstick pan, turning the omelet on both sides. The secret to a good tortilla is for it to be tall and firm on the outside, but soft and moist on the inside.
But if we wanted to go further, delving into a contemporary andalusian cuisine but still linked to territory and culinary traditions, it is possible to find modern and creative variations of the potato tortilla, proposed by Spanish chefs who want to reinvent this classic of their cuisine.
So let's try a tortilla deconstruida, a decomposed version of the tortilla, in which the potatoes are served separately in a bowl with a creamy sauce of eggs and onions.
Or a filled version, richer than the classic tortilla, in which other ingredients such as cheese, ham, vegetables or mushrooms are added to the potato and egg mixture.
The great thing about this dish is that you can really try it anywhere, in typical establishments where they serve it as a tapa or as a sandwich, or in more refined restaurants where they offer it in original and gourmet versions.
A Bodega in Seville, a tapas bar overlooking the sea in Malaga, in the elegant treasure chest of the most innovative Andalusian cuisine in Jaén. Any place is perfect for being captivated by this dish.
What are some other local dishes you would try in Andalusia? What other traditional dish in the Mediterranean would not exist without Latin America?
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