You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you! I don’t know. But it’s a tradition…
In these lines from the opening of Fiddler on the Roof, the character Tevye makes reference to the “just because” nature of all kinds of traditions. Doing things just because that’s the way they’ve always been done and kindof forgetting why.
I got to thinking about this lately when, during a discussion on that most worthy of subjects, the apple tart, a colleague remarked that her granny would probably be turning in her grave at the thought that she had used a couple of eggs and a bit of sugar when making the pastry for her latest tart. That would definitely not be traditional in Granny’s worldview.
I, of course, would have no problem with the eggs and sugar in the pastry. What would cooking be if we never tweaked a traditional recipe, adapted it to the ingredients we had to hand or experimented with new combinations of same? On the other hand, I bet we all have some dishes that we like done in whatever may be our own traditional way (which may well be the way that Granny made it) and (whether we admit it) harbour certain objections to having it done any other way.
It occurred to me that I was a bit like that about Spanish omelette (aka tortilla). I was shown how to make this years ago by a Spanish relative and, to this day, I’m picky about my tortilla being made with just eggs, potatoes, onions and salt. No pepper, no garlic, no other vegetable additions. Maybe that’s because it’s just pretty damn good that way (and explains why traditional tortilla is such a popular dish in Spain of course). So I will continue to make it just as described below, but I guess you can tweak it if you like!
Tortilla Espanola a.k.a. Spanish Omelette
You only need:
- About 500g potato
- About 200g onion
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tsp salt
The Pan and Plate:
- Size (of pan) is important – I use a 24cm pan for this size of tortilla
- You’ll also need a flat plate a little wider than the pan, so that you can turn the pan (with the tortilla in it) onto the plate
- Peel the potatoes and slice very thinly. Place the sliced potatoes in water until you’re ready to use them.
- Slice the onions thinly.
- Heat some olive oil in a pan.
- Add the onions, stir and fry over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until they start to get soft.
- Drain the potatoes, pat them dry and add to the onions.
- Lower the heat, then stir and fry for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, adding some more olive oil if the mixture is sticking. Once the potatoes begin to soften a little (after about 10 minutes), you can start to break up the slices as you stir.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the salt and the cooked onion and potato mixture to the bowl. Stir to mix. The heat of the cooked mixture will start to cook the eggs.
- Now put some more olive oil into the pan and pour in the egg mixture.
- Cook over a medium heat for about 7 minutes or until the tortilla appears fairly solid right through and there is little or no liquid egg on the surface of the tortilla.
- At this point, if you’re feeling confident, you can cook the other side of the tortilla by placing the plate on top of the pan, turning the plate and pan over, and then sliding the tortilla gently back into the pan for 3-4 minutes. Alternatively, you can place the pan under the grill for 5-6 minutes to finish cooking the top that way and then turn it onto the plate when ready.
- Would feed about 4-5 for lunch, along with salads, or slice into cubes for serving tapas-style.