Monday, August 5, 2013

Rethinking Carbs and a Tapa

Having spent the last month in Spain I noticed that there is not a lot of rice on their menus (the exception being paella, which Americans, but not the Spanish, consider to be the national dish of Spain.  And not every main dish comes with potatoes or pasta.  In the US our entrees generally come with a starch and vegetable.  In Spain if you order an entree of, say bacalão (re-hydrated salt dried cod), generally it will be just the bacalão with whatever sauce – no potatoes, no rice, no pasta.  The “fixed price” 3 course “lunches” (eaten at about 2:30 PM) had a few carb dishes but it was easy to have a carb free meal. 

So is this how the Spanish stay in shape (besides walking everywhere…) in spite of frequent meals?  Breakfast is coffee.  Mid-morning includes churros (OK, not only a starch but deep fried as well), chocolate, more coffee and maybe an orange juice.  If you miss the mid-morning churros you might get a late morning (11 AM) sandwich of jamon (what we call prosciutto but there are so many grades/types of this delicious meat that “prosciutto” doesn't begin to cover the variety available) and cheese. 

Then, beginning around 2:30 PM, there is the “fixed price 3 course menu” – your pick of 2 main dishes and a dessert including wine or beer.  Again, it is easy to choose no-carb dishes from the menus.  And the day’s menus progress to tapas (appetizer sized offerings) and dinners (usually eaten very late, an early dinner is not available before 8:30 PM) which again don’t include a lot of carbs.

My favorite tapa is so simple – a chopped tomato, diced Manchego (or other Spanish hard cheese), a bit of canned tuna fish sprinkled on top, drizzled with a good olive oil and then a dash of sea salt.

I ate light but well, walked a lot and lost 3 lbs during our month visit on the Iberian peninsula.  Maybe there is something to be said for not eating a starch/carb with every meal.

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