What They Don’t Tell You

People back home are often saying to me something along the lines of “Oh! Your life must be like a vacation!” or “Have you gone to [insert European country, city, place of interest or restaurant here] yet?” And I get it. If you’ve never lived abroad, it’s hard to imagine the experience as anything other …

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Arroz Con Leche

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about language. I’m going through training* to teach English as a foreign language right now, so for the first time, I’m looking at English through the eyes of someone trying to learn it from square one. I’ve always considered myself someone with a brain for language — English grammar …

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Messy table with half-eaten meal in Madrid.

(Really) Late Lunch: When to Eat in Spain

Tourists coming to Spain for the first time are often shocked at how late the Spanish eat. Hungry and frustrated, they’re perplexed at 7:00 p.m. when they head out for dinner, only to realize that most restaurants don’t even open until 8:30 p.m. (To say nothing of the fact that the locals won’t be showing …

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Puré de Verduras

I have to admit that I haven’t totally figured out the vegetable situation in Madrid yet. The mercados I shop here — along with the ones I’ve wandered through as we travel around Spain — are absolutely piled high with incredible produce. I’ve seen some of the biggest and most colorful examples of so many …

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garlic head and cloves

In Defense of Unitaskers

I used to work for an American kitchenware retail chain (not the one you’re thinking of; the other one), and we sold all kinds of what were euphemistically called “gadgets,” but what some of us referred to as “money-wasters” or “takers-up-of-precious-kitchen-space.” You know what I’m talking about — tools that are marketed as being the …

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Sliced persimmon bread

Persimmon Cake (or Bread)

The fruit in Spain never fails to astonish me. It is just so good. I grew up in Southern California, and I’ve also lived in the Bay Area and Seattle — all places known for good-quality (though expensive) food selections and thriving local markets. So, you know, I never really thought much about the quality …

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Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Cardamom Rice

This post was supposed to be all about comfort—a favorite comfort food recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi accompanied by a wise anecdote about finding the comforts of home no matter where you happen to be. But, oh, how things can get screwed up. First, I went to the pollería to get chicken …

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Reine Claude Plum Jam, or Learning to Cook by Feel

The idea of making jam used to terrify me. You see, I’m not the most precise tool in the drawer. I tend to use recipes for inspiration rather than strict direction. And while I do own (and use) a scale and measuring spoons, I’m just as likely to resort to feel when measuring ingredients. If …

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Tinto de Verano with Lemon Simple Syrup

Intense heat does strange things to you. It causes your appetite to go into hibernation, turns lying down in front of the AC wearing as little as possible into a perfectly reasonable thing to do for hours on end, and makes mixing delicious Spanish red wine with lemon soda sound like a damn good idea. …

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