Gretchen McCarthy, Reporter
When people think of Spain the first thing that comes to mind are bullfighters wearing long red capes and soccer players running around in celebration after a goal. What doesn’t immediately come to mind are the more subtle, but equally important aspects of Spanish society that make it such an amazing and active country. I was lucky enough to spend a month in Barcelona last summer, and can say with absolute certainty that the Spaniards know how to do food, and even more importantly they know how to do naps.
As a perennially exhausted person who can usually fall asleep at a moment’s notice, the Spanish tradition of the ‘daily period of rest’ was right up my alley. Every day, without fail, stores and businesses around the city close from around 1:30 until 3:00, just so they can rest. I know, I know, the economy, money, Spain’s bankrupt and blah-blah-blah, but people who nap are happier people, people I would certainly want to be around. Naps are incredibly important, especially to an emotionally distraught high school junior who’s facing the Satan that is the college admission process. Who knows, maybe if NCHS brought back the days of kindergarten napping we wouldn’t have so many student vs. administration protests, just a thought.
As if having the luxury of a built in nap every day isn’t enough, Spaniards also get the added bonus of consistently amazing food. Their staple ingredients are cheese, bread and potatoes, used together to make something other than mac n’ cheese and french fries. Looking back, this combo was probably the reason not all my clothes fit when I got back from the Spanish heartland. The most popular and dangerous dish in Barcelona is patatas bravas, which surprisingly does not translate to brave potatoes. A fancier, more respectable version of the hash brown, patatas bravas are small fried potatoes drenched in cream sauce and spicy tomato sauce all wrapped up in a nice little package of classic Spanish spice and flavor.
After first impressing you with their talent for the simply delicious, the other popular dishes are perfect examples of traditional Spanish drama and flair. Paella, a dish more popular along the coast of Spain where seafood is the most prevalent, is a mix of only the most tasty fish and seafood delicacies, namely shrimp, mussels and scallops. Kind of a Spanish version of chili, paella is mixing of the best aspects of all your favorite foods, the warmness of thick Spanish rice and the crisp flavor of the many meat choices make one combination that’s hard to turn down. Never ones to shy away from dynamicism, the Spanish make paella with many possible substitutions in place of the classic rice. For our darker, more nefarious friends there’s the arroz negro (black rice) an ink tinted specimen that’s darker than the soul of someone who’s just gone through a netflix binge. Even if you’re more into pasta than rice, never fear! The Spanish have you covered. Fideuà is a super thin noodle that Spaniards use in place of rice to prove that they really do have every option available.
Clearly, the Spanish took all the best aspects of American food, cheese, carbs and fried potatoes and upped the ante to impressive new heights. So next time you and your parents are too lazy or tired to cook real food, instead of calling up Sushi 25 or Joe’s, try some tapas takeout that will change your life.
Where to get amazing Spanish food nearby:
Barcelona (Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford)
With a classic tapas bar atmosphere and plenty of the most classic tapas choices, Barcelona is the perfect place to fall in love with Spanish cuisine.
BoxCar Cantina (Greenwich)
Even though it has a more Mexican vibe than Spanish, BoxCar easily has the best burritos this side of Chipotle and their fajitas can’t be beat.