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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In the Kitchen, En la Cocina, Dans la Cuisine

Summer supposedly died over a week ago but someone forgot to give it the bad news here in Valencia. I haven’t put on anything but flip-flops since May (besides my cycling cleats). I have the flip-flop tan lines on my feet to prove it. My long pants haven’t left the closet since I can’t remember when.  I woke up this morning and it was overcast and cool, not cold but cool and I thought that I at least need to put the glass back into the big picture windows in the back of the apartment. I have really enjoyed how open the place looks without the glass in the windows.  It has been like living in a beach cabana all summer.

I think that summer is a good thing and they say that all good things must end. The good news here in Spain is that this good thing ends really, really, slowly, especially this year. As much as I love the fall weather—it’s great for cycling—I am  clinging to summer like a shipwreck victim grasping a piece of driftwood.

I do hope for a little bit of rain. Granted, I am hoping that it only rains at night when I'm sleeping but we need the rain if we are going to have a successful mushroom crop this fall. Last year it was so dry that you barely noticed mushrooms in the market. I saw a few kinds of mushrooms at the market the other day and they were horribly expensive. With a few good rains we will be up to our chef knives in these delicacies. Now that the hottest weather is behind us the spores are just waiting for a bit of water to offer themselves up.

Another basic ingredient in my kitchen is sun-dried tomatoes. A friend gave me a big bunch of tomatoes his father made this summer that I have been using in everything. I find that the tomatoes now aren’t quite as amazing as they were only a couple weeks ago so sauces requiring tomatoes definitely could use a little help from the sun-dried variety. I even used a couple in the sofrito for my paella the other day. The ones I was given were salt-cured so you need to soak them in water a bit before using and then adjust the dish you are making as they will still retain a bit of their saltiness.

I have been searching for my next dish to prepare. In the meantime I have been making paella almost every Sunday for the past month—a very Valenciano thing to do I might add. I love paella but I love making it even more.  I have been using an old Valencia trick when making paella on the stove top. I place newspaper around the stove and on the floor when frying the chicken and rabbit parts so I don’t have so much grease to clean up afterwards. Probably not the smartest  thing to do as far as fire safety but once you add the water to the pan you just have to throw away the paper and your kitchen is pretty much back to the state it was in before you started. I actually have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen—not that I would think that fast if I went up in flames but still. I like to look good at least on paper. I meant that figuratively and I wasn't saying that I like to look good while going up in flames while standing on oil-soaked newspaper.

As I’ve been writing this I have been thinking about what I will work on in my French class this morning. I want to talk about cooking. As it turns out I still remember most of the vocabulary so now I need to work a bit on tying all of it together with the proper verbs and their forms.  In the area of foreign foods, maybe I'll make another video in Spanish as the last one I did was a couple of years ago and now it makes me cringe to watch it.  I’m rather embarrassed by my performance so if you want to see it you’ll have to look for yourself but I’ll give you a hint: How to Make Fabada Asturiana (I changed the title to Fabada Valenciana after a few complaints from Spanish purists). It’s not like I made a lot of mistakes but I just talk so slowly and deliberately.  So today I will work on my kitchen French. À bientôt. 

*The photo shows my new sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary I picked with blossoms, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. What more do you need? 

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