Comedy and Comida

A taster of Andaluz cooking and gastronomy

I once lived with a friend, Antonio, who was from Cadiz when I was at university. At that time, I thought putting a ready meal lasagne in the oven as opposed to the microwave represented skilful cooking; however, when seeing Antonio’s culinary prowess, I recognised my limitations. Yet, Antonio’s cooking was driven by something else, something intangible.  He was from Andalucia, a place where local food appears to be as culturally integral as tea is to the British. What better way to explore this culinary culture than by including a cookery class for one of the Hidden Cultures itineraries, inside a local’s house?

In the outskirts of Sevilla lives a small family. Orange trees line the small streets outside their house and the cool smell of citrus is refreshing against the heat of the early Spring sunshine. In the doorway to her house stands a middle-aged lady with (literally) open arms, her moustached husband standing behind her beaming from ear to ear. Before entering, payment must be made in the form of an Andaluz embrace. The warmth of Andalucia is not limited to the climate.

We were told that Andaluz law states: “local wine (or beer) must always be consumed whilst cooking” so as polite and responsible tourists, the group reached for a small glass of something and began to chop, slice, peel and marinade as instructed. To add an extra cultural dimension, all instructions were given in Spanish which added to the mix. After a lot of gesticulations, hard work, and hilarity the group sat down to a feast of homemade gazpacho, solomillo al whisky (a local pork dish), some fresh deep-fried fish and some crisp salad complete with fat juicy tomatoes and who dare forget that vital ingredient, in my mind now known as ‘Andaluz juice’ but to most people, olive oil.

After speaking to the family, it transpired that the they were heavily involved with a local epilepsy society called Ápice (the Andaluz Association of Epilepsy) as the mother and her two daughters’ lives have been severely impacted by this disease. All profits from this venture (and the leftover food) goes to this local charity and, as an epileptic myself, I cannot think of a better way to demonstrate to cultural travellers the typical Andaluz characteristics of kindness and hospitality. What’s more, it’s terrific fun.

¡Salud! (Cheers!)

(This cookery course is part of the Classical Andalucia itinerary under Escorted Tours. Interested? Get in touch on 01223 455 171)