I remember visiting a Spanish friend while living in London who on one occasion was extremely excitedly to show me something. He brought out a series of ice-cream tubs which his mother had sent him and with a big smile on his face asked me if I wanted to try some Spanish food. Now I had been to Spain and was familiar with the delicious touristy dishes like Paella and Chorizo, but what he had to show me was something I’d never encountered before!
One tub contained some crispbread, I was happy to see that, something safe, but the following one he opened contained an orange slime, for lack of a better word. He slapped some generously onto a cracker and handed it to me, grinning with excitement anticipating my enjoyment – his optimism was severely misguided. As I turned up my nose he explained in broken English, that it was some kind of spiced lard. “Okay, next” I hastened.
The next tub he opened contained something resembling a large Salami, just a lot redder. “Chorizo?” I asked. “No!” He responded, struggling for the English word, “Uh, uh, sangre.” My heart stopped cold, anyone who’s watched a movie with a Catholic communion service in it may know, sangre (or Latin/Italian variants) means blood, it was blood sausage.
Safe to say, some Spanish food is just delicious, others less so, here’s a brief guide on what to watch out for on menus in Madrid.
Safe Madrid dishes to try:
Cocido Madrileño: A stew made of pork belly, chorizo, beef flank, chicken, chickpeas, celery, cabbage & potatoes. It’s usually drained of liquid and served with a traditional tomato sauce.
Ensalada San Isidro: A simple salad named after the patron saint of Madrid containing olives, tuna, boiled egg & lettuce.
Cordero asado: Roast lamb, usually served as lamb ribs, deboned fillet or shank.
Madrid dishes for the brave:
Callos a la Madrileña: A stew containing tripe from a sheep or cow with blood pudding, chorizo and spices like paprika.
Oreja de cerdo: Pan-fried pig ear, sometimes served with a stew or beans.
Gallinejas: Salted fried sheep intestines accompanied with chips.
If the idea of Madrid’s exotic food has gotten your tummy rumbling and your travel juices flowing, exciting news is that this year Emirates has begun daily flights to Madrid, driving down prices and making it easier to get to Spain than ever. Sneaking home a chorizo sausage or two is easier as well with the 30kg’s economy baggage allowance!