Why Aren't Spaniards Fat?
It’s astonishing how attractive people in Spain are and even more astonishing is the fact that they don’t weigh four hundred pounds each. If I lived there, I’d have a weight problem and I’d certainly develop angina from all the cholesterol I’d consume.
First and foremost, I’d consume pork products daily. Iberian jamon for breakfast, chorizo at least once a day, and I would have to have frequent, large samples of a wide variety of sausages. Moving on, for snacks I’d nibble on Spanish cheeses. I’d offset the cholesterol from the cheese with copious amounts of red wine. The vino tinto would cancel out the cheese because we all know how good red wine is for us, don’t we?
If all that didn’t kill me in a few months time, the desserts definitely would. First, can we talk about churros? Fried dough. Lots of it. On a plate and served with something akin to hot chocolate but it’s really more like thick chocolate pudding. The churro is dipped into the thick chocolate drink and devoured for breakfast or for a snack. That sound you just heard was me sighing with desire and unbuttoning my pants because even the thought of this gooey, wonderful mess makes my waist expand. Churros are made upon request and you can watch the entire process at almost any stand that sells them.
Another popular and seductive treat is waffles. Waffles served with oozy, drizzly, thick chocolate and—if you’d like even more decadence---ice cream. Like I said, how do these people not explode? Irresistible!
I’ve saved the best for last. The Spanish island of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands seems to be the only place in the world where a pastry called ensaimada is made. I was introduced to this unique taste treat on the PBS show “Spain…On the Road Again” with Mario Batali, Mark Bittman-the New York Times food critic, Gwyneth Paltrow and Claudia Bassols. This series provides great armchair travel through Spain, its best sites and (even better!) its best foods and wines. Mario ferreted out the best ensaimada in all Mallorca. High on my priority list of places to go, its a bit of a challenge to find. Deep in the heart of Palma de Mallorca, a tiny hole-in-the wall place on a tiny side street contains one of the world’s seven wonders. In Ca’n Miguel you can find the lightest most amazing pastry I have ever tasted. Wound into a spiral and baked, this creation melts into your mouth and left me unable to speak. Cooked with no one knows how much pure lard (yes, lard) I would eat it twice a day if I could. The name apparently comes from the Arabic word saïm which means pork lard. You can get ensaimadas filled with cream or plain. Although the cream is delicious, it’s so good on its own that I prefer the plain. Large ensaimadas are the size of a pie and when you leave Mallorca you see people carrying them back to the mainland in pastry boxes handled as carefully as infants. They are every bit as precious.