Food and gastronomy in Asturias
In the next few lines I will try to set the differences between “haute cuisine” and local gastronomy. I think there is no one better and one worst. It only depends on the moment and your expectations when choosing. If you like food and gastronomy you might be interested in this link after your reading.
It is well known that Spain has some of the best Chefs in the whole world and some have even been declared as best restaurant (what is to say the best chef) in the world. The Michelín guide is the most famous critic when talking about food and they award the best ones with the Michelín star. The true is that those restaurants normally set a 6 to 10 dishes menu so you can try a tiny portion of food with lush creations that, I recognize, the chef has to create by himself so the creativity is the main factor in this kind of cuisine. Those chefs spend hours trying different mixes, products and presentations so you have a good mixture of flavors and visual effects that take you somewhere else. But still…
There is another kind of cuisine, that will never get a Michelín star, I appreciate much more. It is true that I don’t like trying many things such as sweet and salty products in the same dish and I don’t like vegetables at all but, when I go to a restaurant, I expect to have a good portion of whatever I ask for, meat, fish, shell-fish, beans or whatever. And for that purpose I haven’t found anywhere like Asturias. There you can easily find a daily menu for 9 euros with 3 courses for each person having lunch. And that is not the only thing. If you have beans, soup, cabbage or whatever is the main course, they normally bring you the whole stewpot and let you get as much or as less as you want. I don’t get where’s the benefit for the restaurant, I guess in the volume of sales, but they always get me back in those restaurants.
I want to show you a couple of very traditional dishes you can find in Asturias:
– Cachopo: It is a huge breaded steak filled with cheese and serrano ham. Please see the picture at the end of the post. It is normally served with french fries and red peppers. It is absolutely awesome. There are some people as my mom that cannot see that size on anything because she won’t eat a bite, but it is like heavenly music for other kind of people. This is so famous that a non-official rank of cachopos has been made by people. It is called the “Cachopómetro”. It rates issues as the flavor, the size or the location. It is amazing!!… and funny…!!!
– Fabada: Perhaps the most famous food in Asturias. It is so simple as white beans slowly boiled in a stewpot with red sausages, black pudding, bacon and ham. And it is so difficult that every housewife has her little trick to give it a different flavor. If you are ever going to come to Asturias and want to try them please, accept this advice, do NOT eat more than 2 dishes of fabada or your evening will be veeeery loooong. I can tell you that when I started to date my wife I went to her house on sunday to have lunch with her family and normally, on sundays, it is fabada’s turn. As I wanted to please her family I put my dish to be served as many times as they told me to do it (I don’t remember if they were 4 – 5 times). When it was time for leaving it was even hard to get up from the sofa… you can imagine where in my house I finished that night… 🙂
– Arroz con leche or milk pudding: It is also traditional in Asturias to get this for dessert. The important issue is that still in many houses inland the milk is bought to your neighbor, who has 10 – 12 cows. You can’t get fresher milk than that and then rice is boiled with that milk very slowly for hours. They add some more ingredients but the summit is the burnt sugar they put on it.
– Cider: And I cannot finish this post without talking about cider. It is a very social drink, made with apple but no gas in it. It has to be poured in a traditional way so the cider beats against the glass changing completely its flavor. Do NOT leave Asturias without tasting it. It would be like going to Dublin and not tasting a guinness…
Try any of this at many of the “sidrerías” (local restaurants) in Asturias. If you prefer the “haute cuisine” there are a few michelin starred restaurants around so whatever you like, come to Asturias. I am sure you will love it!!