When I was a junior in college I had the incredible opportunity to spend a semester abroad studying in Madrid, Spain. While I was there I embraced the Spanish culture from what they ate and drank to the afternoon siestas. In college, I was on a budget so had to pick and choose what to spend my hard earned money on. I often ate at Pans & Company which had really good bocadillos(sandwiches). And when my family came to visit I made sure we always went out for paella. My favorite place to drink in Madrid was Patato. It had single-serving jugs of Sangria and really good French fries.
Fast forward to ten years later, when I found myself back in Spain. This time visiting the northern region, spending time in Bilbao and San Sebastian. I was travelling with my husband, needless to say we had a bigger budget for food and drinks. The most memorable meal while we were there was at Mugaritz. This restaurant, often found near the top of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World, exceeded my expectations. The food was delicious and the ambiance was perfect for a very relaxed three hours meal on a Sunday afternoon. At one point, we played a game to see who got an extra scoop of caviar on their dish. I won, but graciously gave my husband the caviar since it isn’t my favorite anyway. We ended our meal with multiple courses of petit-fours in their garden and went back to our hotel for a lengthy siesta after the visit was complete.
I imagine the next time I return to Spain I will probably be with my children. I am sure that trip will bring new adventures looking for food that makes everyone happy. I know we’ll be able to find something delicious from a quick sandwich to a multi-course menu depending on how old the children are at the time!
March has been a very busy month… it came in roaring like a lion and hopefully, will go out like a lamb. Tonight we begin the celebration of Passover with the first Seder. It is a time to be with family and friends to re-tell the story of the Jewish People’s exodus from Egypt. One great part of any holiday is the traditions that go along with it. As my children grow our traditions bring on new meaning and continue to grow as well. Here are some of my favorite family Passover traditions… you’ll notice most of them involve food.
Singing Songs – At the end of a long seder, it is late and everyone has had a couple of glasses of wine(technically 4, but who’s counting?). It is the perfect time to sing all of the songs at the end of the Hagadah. One of my favorites is a counting song where each person takes a phrase. It is always a hoot to see who forgets and who remembers their number to keep the song going.
Egg Soup – Eggs are a strong symbol at Passover representing life. It is common to eat a hard boiled egg at the seder but my friends take it a step further. They mix the hard boiled egg with salt water to produce egg soup and it is delicious.
Chocolate – Since you cannot eat anything leavened during Passover most of the sweets tend to be chocolate related. I’m definitely okay with that and plan to eat chocolate before, during and after the Seder.
Practicing our Hebrew – At my family’s Seder we take turns reading from the Hagadah. You are always encouraged to read the Hebrew rather than the English. The best part is that my mother-in-law follows along and corrects any mistakes along the way! If someone is a good(meaning quick) reader we always make sure they take a long turn. The faster you read, the sooner you get to eat!
Family & Friends – At the end of the day, the best part of the holiday is spending it with family and friends. I’m lucky that I have 2 very special seders to attend and hope this tradition continues year after year.
Whatever holiday you are celebrating this weekend, I hope it is happy and meaningful and filled with all the traditions you love.