In preparing for a dinner party (which has yet to happen; rescheduling was necessary), I made dinner for Husband as a chance to try a difficult trick. Any dinner that requires two frying pans used in tandem merits a trial run, I thought.
I was using a recipe-by-memory that I learned from my friend L. L and I met in college but became close while we were living abroad in Spain. She and I encouraged each other to go jogging more, to eat more chocolate, and to cry when things were difficult and lonely and new. I woke up next to her whenever the long metro ride back to my own apartment or to hers was too long after a late night talking and laughing. My last night in Spain, I slept in her apartment because I couldn’t handle thinking of heading back to the States where she wouldn’t be there. I have not had a closer friend since, to be honest, and while my new life is full of interesting and exciting elements of work and marriage, I miss her desperately.
We attempted all kinds of dishes, but because she was dating a Spaniard, she had access to some little-known secrets of Spanish cooking via his mother and grandmother that I could never have managed on my own. Tortilla, like pretty much all Spanish foods, doesn’t rely on fussy spices or exotic ingredients for its wonderful flavor; it’s just heat, quality eggs, chopped onions and potatoes, and as much olive oil as you want. The hardest part is keeping the tortilla from sticking to the pan and then also making sure that it flips well into the second pan. I do it over the sink, and don’t sweat it if things look a little messy afterwards.
I have eaten slices of firm-on-the-outside, soft-and-liquidy-on-the-inside tortilla in cafes all over Spain, but one evening with L we managed to make one turn out perfectly and we proudly served it to a friend who was visiting town and to my roommate. We were so proud, there in our little 5th-story living room, and I felt echoes of it as I flipped a tortilla in our kitchen. “What’s that?” Husband asked. I got to tell him a bit about Spain; he’s still learning about me and about my life there. Husband has never been out of the country (which I’m trying to remedy, but it may take some time) and when we were just friends I think he was in awe of the adventure that Spain was for me. Now, I think, he sees the ordinary-ness of it too: just a slice of thick, eggy goodness with enough olive oil to make you drool.
I used 6 eggs, one small onion, three small potatoes, and 3/4 cup olive oil, and it was a little too potato-ey in the pan I was using. My biggest advice is to slice the potatoes thin-thin and to cook them on their own for quite a while before you put the eggs in; while this may not be traditional, by cooking them through before I added the eggs I got the onion flavor deep in the potatoes and ensured against any crunchy starchy spots. If you’ve made tortilla, feel free to use the comments to share your tricks and tips. Never mind me while I scarf down some more.