One of the most significant experiences I have had in Spain is the difference in cuisine and the importance of food. In Alicante, food plays a huge role in ordering the events of daily life, and people take great pride in creating dishes that are to taste. While here, I have participated in many different cuisine experiences, including two different cooking classes. The first was a tapas preparation, where I learned how to make ensalada rusa and tortilla, which is the Spanish omelet. This was very exciting because I learned all about the ingredients and preparation, as well as the rationale for the importance of each of the dishes. When it gets very hot in the summer, cooler dishes are needed that require minimal use of the oven and are lighter to eat. These tapas that we created served exactly that purpose, the ensalada rusa required no cooking whatever, and the tortilla did not take long to create.
More importantly, the second cooking class I took was to make arroz a la banda, which is a very traditional rice dish and a specialty of Alicante. The dish contains a variety of seafood, which reflects the location on the Mediterranean. In addition, the preparation is very specific and related to paella but with a richer paste as a base. Overall, Alicantinos feel a connection with this dish because of the generational connection, and the influence of their own society on its preparation. My host mom has spoken multiple times about food preparation, and always emphasizes the health of the food she makes through the use of olive oil. Food is not just food but an identity for the region and helps the family to come together socially during mealtimes. In addition, since it is not common
for people to invite others to their house, they instead meet up for tapas or drinks, which reinforces the importance of food in the center of Spanish culture.