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Jamon at any meal - what to eat in Madrid (ep. 4)
At the beginning of spring, during the period 1-3 March, I was in one city break in Madrid. I wanted to discover the capital of Spain, to breathe some Madrid air and to enjoy this wonderful green city. 2 days are very few to visit different sights, so I was limited to the trips made through the central area, through shops, I even reached the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Thanks to those from Paravion.ro, we had accommodation at 3 minutes from the zero kilometer of Madrid, in the Puerta del Sol area. It is a tourist area with many restaurants, bars and cafes, shops, but also with many museums and parks nearby.
During this walk I had two main goals that I outlined the day before I left: to find out what traditional Madrid food is and to get there within walking distance of an El Clasico. I touched the second one and it was a very pleasant experience. That's how I discovered little secrets about the Spaniards. The atmosphere around this great derby cannot be described in words. It is worth living at least once in your life.
Tied to the first goal, I can say that I reached it in half. I am passionate about culinary art, I like to cook and try new recipes. This explains why I was very careful about the menus of the restaurants that went out of their way. But I couldn't really enjoy their traditional preparations.
No meatless meal
The Spaniards eat a lot of meat, their cuisine is based on a lot of meat dishes. The rule applies to them: "no meal without meat". Among the Madrid dishes we find: Callos a la Madrileña, Cocido Madrileño, Oreja de Cerdo, Sopa de Ajo, Chocolate con Churros or Porras. The Spaniards have the most kinds of cheese and consume a lot of seafood, being in second place after Japan.
But wherever you look, you find ham. This is a dish similar to Italian prosciutto. White pork ham is serrano, and black pork ham is Iberian, among their most expensive dishes. A chain of restaurants has chosen to be called "Jamon Museum”And it is impossible not to come across one no matter where you are in Madrid. There are over 10 such restaurants in the SOL area. Out of curiosity, I went into one of them and ate a ham sandwich, seasoned with a red wine. It cost me about 10 EUR, but it was delicious and I can say I'm tired. Plus you see pig legs hanging on the ground everywhere, all kinds of dishes. I saw ham served on a melon and it was not dessert.
The ham is obtained through a long process that starts from the pig's growth and ends with drying and storage. The legs of the pig are covered with a lot of salt to extract the excess water from the meat, the process by which that dry ham is obtained. Then it washes well and is put to work, which can take up to 6 months. After all, the ham is stored in a dry and cool place for up to 18 months, depending on the weather.
It can be eaten very well and under 10 EUR
One of the evening meals we served at the Lemongrass restaurant, where we ate Pad Thai with chicken. It was nothing traditional Spanish, but the portion was very large even for a gourmet like me, and its cost was 7.9 EUR. If you can't handle traditional Madrid menus and are not attracted to Asian restaurants, you can opt for fast food. I haven't seen the shawormers, but KFC, McDonald's and Burger King restaurants have been stormed since the early hours of the morning.
But the most spectacular places to dine are the markets. They begin to animate after 20: 00 and are open late at night. Spaniards serve dinner quite late and are known for their nightlife. It is normal for them to have fun at night and to go to work in the morning.
There are also places that open only for the morning meal and where you can serve a hot croissant, a fresh juice, a hot chocolate that is not liquid (Chocolate con Churros) etc. Madrid is not a very expensive city in terms of food, but you risk leaving the capital of Spain with a few extra kilos.