TRADITIONAL EASTER FOODS IN SPAIN!
The pre-Easter Lent called "Cuaresma" plays an important role in the life of an ordinary Spaniard. Fasting is inspired by Christ's 40 days of life in the desert. Although this is much more pleasant in nowadays Spain, adapted to the comfort of modern Spanish, it still differs from the rest of the year by a much more moderate life and a lighter diet.
The Church requires all religious people who are not suffering from health problems, aren't pregnant or who are not over 59 years old to avoid eating meat during a 40-day fast (excluding Sundays, on Sundays people can have a feast), and to eat only one meal per day.
In the distant past, this limitation for people used to a diet consisting mostly of traditional lamb and pork cuisine was a challenging task. People living inland, which in Spain means just a few kilometres from the seashore, had no fish available during the year in the past. This resulted in a purely vegetarian diet during this period. All this changed once the Spanish discovered their fasting miracle, a dried cod called "bacalao", which has since become a symbol of not only fasting but also the Easter itself.
BACALAO - SALTED & DRIED COD
The dried cod is coated in a high salt layer before soaking. First, it should be rinsed carefully in cold water. Then, depending on the thickness of the fish, soaked in water which needs to be changed several times during 1 to 3 days.
Spanish took much longer to develop this traditional dried salted fish than the Portuguese, whose Atlantic orientation helped them discover this much sooner and became the centre of their cuisine not only at Easter but throughout the whole year.
Apart from Galicia and the Basque Country, Spain has always been commercially and ideologically oriented more towards the Mediterranean Sea. Only with the bold expeditions of the Basques and later with the expansion of trade with the Nordic states, dried cod spreads throughout Spain and becomes a true gastronomic Easter centrepiece. Although dried cod was originally food for the poor people, in recent years the price has risen and is now around 13 Euro per kilo for the whole fish, including bones, which is higher than the average price for fresh sea fish.
SEMANA SANTA RECIPES
From the many recipes that are prepared during the fasting and holy week of the so-called "Semana Santa", we have chosen the ones we like most. Cod plays a major role in most of them.
Let's start with a traditional cod spread "ajobacalao". It is a finely ground cod with paprika, olive oil and lemon and thickened with soaked old bread. It is served in a large earthenware bowl and is decorated with boiled egg and green olives.
Ajobacalao is a typical cod spread originating from the city of Velez in Andalusia.
DRIED COD AND POTATO SALAD
Especially in the south of Spain, a refreshing potato salad with oranges, olives, olive oil and dried cod is very popular. It is served either as an appetizer or as a light dinner. The salad is prepared in countless variations, from the simplest variant of cold boiled potatoes with olive oil and orange pieces to more complex combinations with boiled egg, dried cod or salted sardines.
Potato salad with cod and orange sounds like a wild combination, but it is a traditional recipe using the cheapest ingredients.
Next, we would like to share 3 a bit more complex recipes. The first combines the intense taste of dried cod with thick and delicate tomatoes and roasted peppers sauce. The second is oven-baked cod with thick, garlic-bread sauce, and the last is roasted cod with chickpeas, onions, garlic, lemon and fresh coriander. Coriander is (compared to flat-leaf parsley) a much less common herb in Spain, coming from the Arab heritage.
BACALAO CON SALSA DE PIMIENTOS
Dried cod with roasted peppers sauce resembling the Catalan Romesco
Baked cod with thick bread sauce with garlic, spices and vinegar
Baked cod with chickpeas, onions, garlic and lemongrass - originally a Portuguese recipe
TORTILLITAS DE BACALAO
Popular are also popular Tortillitas de Bacalao, fried cod pancakes made from simple egg dough. Similar are the Buñuelos de Bacalao, which, unlike tortillitas, are more raised and tend to have the shape of buns after frying.
Often you can find traditional Cod Pil Pil with olive oil served at Easter. In addition to dishes consisting cod, which is a true symbol of Easter, other purely vegetarian dishes such as PATATAS A LA RIOJANA without chorizo or thick chickpea soup with spinach are popular.
SPANISH EASTER DESSERTS
The most famous traditional Spanish dessert is the so-called Torrijas, which is actually a very special dessert, as it is actually some coated bread. The slices of bread are first soaked in milk welded with cinnamon, then wrapped in a beaten egg and finally fried in a large amount of olive oil. Before serving, torrijas is coated in sugar and cinnamon. Also popular are Buñuelos de Viento, which are actually fried doughnuts coated in sugar.