KelsieGleason's Travel Journals

KelsieGleason Kelsie Gleason

  • 28 years old
  • From Illinois, United States
  • Currently in Barcelona, Spain

Visions and Revisions: Discovering the Culture of Barcelona

This journal will serve as a collection of my experiences, observations, and reflections over the next four months of cultural immersion in Barcelona.

La clase de cocina

Spain Barcelona, Spain  |  Jan 31, 2011
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            Today was probably my favorite cultural activity so far! We went to a little cooking school called “Cook and Taste” to learn how to cook Spanish food! The school was pretty close to my apartment, so we walked through the Born and met up with the rest of the class at a metro stop in that neighborhood. We divided up into two groups—one group got the lesson in English and the other group was taught in Spanish. I went with the Spanish group, but it wasn’t as difficult to understand as I expected it to be.

            We made five different courses so it was a HUGE meal. We were cooking for about 2.5 hours and then we spent another hour just eating the food. We started out with “chupito de sopa de tomate al aroma de idiazábal” which, in English, is “shot of tomato soup flavored with idiazábal smoked cheese.” It was a little glass of cold tomato soup similar to Gazpacho with pesto, cheese, and allioli sauce on top. We peeled and blended the tomatoes ourselves, grated the fresh cheese, and made the pesto with a mortar and pestle.

            After the tomato soup we made “tortilla de patatas” and “pan con tomate,” a potato omelet and bread with tomato. The tortilla was a lot of fun to cook since we had to peel and chop the potatoes ourselves and then mix them with eggs and fry them. I’m surprised no one cut their fingers off cutting those potatoes—it was definitely a good thing that I didn’t have the knife for that task! It was fun to watch people try to flip the omelet in the pan too, and most of the omelet actually stayed in the pan during the flip! I made a video of the omelet being flipped, so I'll upload it later on. The pan con tomate was really good too. We started off with toasted slices of farmhouse bread and rubbed garlic on them, then rubbed tomato on them, and then sprinkled some salt and olive oil on the top. We’ve had pan con tomate as an appetizer at almost every restaurant we’ve been to so far, so it was great to finally learn how to make it ourselves!

            The main course of the dinner was the best part of course! We made “Paella Valencian Style” which is essentially chicken, rice, and vegetables heated in a pan with saffron and other seasoning. It was delicious! We’ve had seafood paella a couple of times at restaurants and at our host family’s apartment, but this was definitely the best paella I’ve ever had! We learned how to cut up artichokes and chopped a bunch of other vegetables too. The cook had us peel the asparagus before we cut it which was different. He laughed at us when we told him that we eat all of the asparagus at home without peeling it, but it tasted just as good without the peel. We got some great pictures of our vegetable chopping and stirring the paella pan. The pans are HUGE and we had to put a giant burner underneath the pan connected to its own gas tank instead of using the stove. It was crazy!

            Dessert was amazing too! We had “Crema Catalana” which is similar to Crème Brulee. We had to mix egg yolks with sugar, milk, starch, cinnamon sticks, and lemon peel and heat it over the stove while stirring constantly. When it got thick enough we poured it into separate cups and sprinkled them with sugar then torched the sugar with a blow torch! Some of them ended up pretty burnt, but most of them were perfect. The cooking class was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far! It was a great night and now I have something from Catalan/Spanish culture that I can take home with me! I will definitely be making paella in my house at IWU next year!

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