One of my gripes/ guilts about living abroad is not putting enough energy into soaking up the local culture. Its easier than you’d think to just surround yourself with expats and forget that you’re in a country with a culture completely foreign to your own. This is the case not only for ‘westerners’ like Americans, Aussies and South Africans- Spanish speakers of different nationalities also find it difficult to assimilate into each others worlds. Here in Spain, Catalonia in particular, groups of Argentinians and Colombians gravitate towards each other just as much as the rest of us do.
In an attempt to be more culturally aware (and also an attempt to feed our curiosity), my apartment of expats decided to cook a typical Catalan dish…. Estofado de Conejo en Tomate (Braised Rabbit in Tomato). The majority of us were up to the challenge of eating this gamey meat, a select few were less enthused. In Spain one can buy a rabbit alongside chicken and other meats in the supermarket. It’s easily identifiable.
A wounded group of people followed through with their plans to prepare the meal. A farewell party the night before meant none of us were on top of our game and the effort that goes into food preparation didn’t go unfelt. For those not keen on consuming rabbit, there was a chicken alternative. While this meant double the workload it also meant we didn’t go hungry. There’s not much meat on a rabbit you see.
Basic ingredients included: Rabbit (or chicken), tomatoes, celery, garlic, onions, white wine, bay leaves and a few other herbs (when in doubt use whatever herbs you can find). We chose potato wedges as a side dish which ended up working well with what was essentially ‘Rabbit Stew’.
Luckily for the rest of us, those doing the cooking aren’t half bad at it. Although calling a ‘recipe’ ‘directions’ is never a great sign so naturally I had my reservations. While we’re all meat eaters and very familiar with an uncooked chicken or whatever else, a dead, skinned rabbit, with head still intact, had us all intrigued. We may have even made it ‘run’.
The result was delicious! There was a lot not going for this dish- rabbit, being cooked by rookies, all of whom were men, all of whom were hungover and tired. But I salute them- tell me this doesn’t look good!
Unfortunately cooking and eating typical Spanish dishes doesn’t improve my Spanish. It seems to be regressing. But I’ll keep you updated.