Last week we celebrated the anniversary of the day that Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas. Here in the United States we call it Columbus Day. Schools are closed, cities host parades and those of us who have to work grumble about it. In Spain the day is called Fiesta Nacional, or National Day of Spain, and it is also celebrated with a parade. But not just an ordinary parade, in Madrid the parade is presided over by a member of Spain’s royal family, King Juan Carlos I. Here in Chicago, Solex Partners celebrated the day with the Spanish Consul, 200 happy Spaniards and a Jamon Iberico de Bellota. Madrid had the King of Spain, we had the king of hams! And the Jamon Iberico de Bellota, or Pata Negra, truly is an example of porcine royalty.
Food Around the World
As you can tell, in the Solex world everything ties back to food. So, Columbus Day got me thinking about our bounty of old and new world foods, and the wonderful results of their coming together. By the time Columbus left Spain with the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, the country already had a long and delicious culinary history. Beautiful cheeses like Manchego have thousands of years of history behind them. Today, the rind of the Manchego is still characterized by a braided pattern that harkens back to the grass baskets that were originally used to cure the cheese. I could talk for hours about foods that are synonymous with Spain like chorizo, paella, and olive oil! But let’s talk new world foods.
Old World Meets New
The new world offered new and (then) exotic foods like the tomato, the potato, chocolate and vanilla. These foods would change the face of Spain’s and the world’s gastronomy forever. Juicy, red tomatoes are the signature ingredient for Spain’s cool and velvety gazpacho. And who can imagine the tasty Tortilla Espanola without the potatoes that give it that extra firmness? Finally, what would the churro be without its friend, melted, gooey chocolate? They are two foods that were made for each other! Just like Spanish and new world foods.