Sweet, sour and red all over

spain
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Smtomatobeer0001.jpgDown the pub, fancy a nibble with your pint... what do you get?  Presumably a packet of crisps or a packet of peanuts.  Maybe pork scratchings if you like that kind of thing.  Chances are it'll be very fatty and salty, devoid of vitamins, and not terribly good for your heart.  Not so in Spain...  

While out one night in Jabugo (of jamón iberico fame) we noticed the locals at the bar ordering plates of freshly cut chunks of deep red juicy tomatoes to go with their beers.  So naturally we copied them.  Bursting with juicy tomatoeyness, their balanced sweet and acid flavour was complemented simply with a drizzle of good olive oil and a scattering of salt and dried oregano.  Perfect with our cold cervezas.

Of course I'm exaggerating the Spaniards' healthy habits.  (There were also packets of crisps on sale at the bar.)  But the tomatoes here are so good  - everyone from the lands of pale, hard and tasteless supermarket tomatoes notices this when they come on holiday - that munching on them anytime anywhere seems the norm.

Smsalmorejo0001.jpgAnd they appear in many of my favourite Spanish dishes, such as gazpacho, which we drank every day for lunch in the car from litre cartons bought at petrol stations (fast food, yes, but not a nasty additive in sight; they were 100% natural, promise); and salmorejo, a cucumber- and pepper-less gazpacho, also from Andalucia.  Both are fresh, emulsified tomatoey delights.  

Incidentally, the Spanish love their emulsified soups and sauces.  There is practically no home left in Spain not yet kitted out with a Thermomix - the magic gadget that chops, mixes and even cooks your food.  It emulsifies in seconds, which might explain its popularity in Spain, despite its 1000 euro pricetag.

Smtomatobread0001.JPGAnd then there's pa amb tomaquet - the Catalunyan mainstay of bread rubbed with a cut tomato, then perhaps augented with a little olive oil and salt.  We had plenty of these, breakfast, noon and night at the wonderful El Folló guesthouse.  Clearly, you need good bread and good tomatoes for it to work, by which I mean 'real'.  So if you lack a top quality supplier near you, you'll need to bake and grow your own...

Read about other tastes of Spain...

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