Baby eels, chorizo in cider and squid cooked in its own ink – Tim Maxwell eats them all as he makes himself at home in Navarra, Spain.
Two weeks after moving to Spain, I could tell I was gaining weight. I couldn’t help but try every new food that I saw and everyone around me was enabling this behavior. These are the 15 most interesting things I’ve eaten while living in Navarra, Spain.
This is a pretty broad category of foods that many below fall into, but pintxos is the word used in Navarra and Pais Vasco for tapas, which are small dishes, usually served at a bar. There are so many kinds and very few that I haven’t liked.
2. Chorizo cooked in cider
Chorizo a la sidra is a simple recipe – take some chorizo, cook it in cider, then eat it with bread – but it makes one very tasty meal.
This is a large celery-looking vegetable that tastes quite delicious. Its little brother, borraja, is also from the celery family and also good in soups and stews.
4. ‘Summer’ wine
So, anyone who has ever been to Spain has had sangria, but if you find yourself in the south of Spain, you are likely to have the opportunity to try tinto de verano – chilled red wine mixed with soda water. Grab a glass and relax on the beach or somewhere in the sun.
5. Baby eels
Gulas are little white eels with a white-fish taste, sprinkled with olive oil, and served (quite deliciously) atop a slice of bread. This food conjures up memories from the dinner in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Although, these days, most gulas you find will be surimi made into a substitute eel.<
6. Squid cooked in its own ink
Calamar en su tinta is usually served with white rice, this dish is actually pretty good. The ink has a grainy taste, but doesn’t overpower the taste of the calamari.
sepia (cuttlefish) are squid-like, and you eat them in their entirety. The ones I had didn’t have eyes or anything, but the tentacles tickled my lips as I ate them.
8. Roast suckling pig
Conchinillo is tasty but the story may be harder to swallow. Take a baby pig that is still feeding on its mother’s teat and roast it until it is so tender that it almost melts in your mouth.
9. Roscón de Reyes
This is a big, cream-filled, donut topped with fruit and cream. Yay for Three Kings’ Day! Though be careful where you bite – inside are hidden a figurine and a fava bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned the ‘king’ or ‘queen’ but whoever finds the bean has to pay for next year’s roscón.
A liquor made from endrinas, or sloe (a fruit I never heard of until I tried this drink) off the blackthorn bush. It is a sweet liquor, and great for after dinner.
11. Hot chocolate
Just add milk or water to your chocolate powder/syrup, right? Wrong. Chocolate caliente is a thick, melted hot chocolate, served in a cup. Sugar rush, here I come! Even better if you have the Spanish donuts (churros) to dunk in.
This is interesting because I have not seen this in abundance anywhere else in Europe. It is normal here. All the better to serve the typical post-lunch beverage, gin and tonic.