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The Secret Recipe

“I can’t wait to try all the food!” exclaimed Dylan excitedly as we entered the supermarket. My son and his family from California had just landed in Spain and they were ready for adventure!

His musings through the prepared food isles brought back memories of when I had asked similar questions. He stopped in front of the Russian salad.

“What’s this?” he asked, studying it through the packaging.

“It’s the Spanish version of our potato salad except that they add tuna, peas, carrots and tomatoes and there is no mustard nor pickles” I explained.

“No mustard! Interesting!” he replied as he put it in the cart.

Next item in question: “What is this round yellow thing?»

“A tortilla”.

“That is NOT a tortilla, Mom, sorry; that is something with lots of eggs and potatoes!”

“Dylan, I know Spanish is spoken here but; we are not in Mexico. Here, they make tortillas with eggs and potatoes, not ground corn flour.”

“I like eggs and potatoes” he said as he added one to the cart.

Brandie, his wife, quickly noticed the picture of an onion on the packaging and asked for a version without onions. Interesting, I thought, Californians have the same dispute as Spaniards; which is better, tortilla with or without onions. Personally, I think it is a silly argument since everything is better with onions. Keeping that to myself, I switched the tortilla to one without onions.

Later during the visit, the Californians sat down to paella, eager to try the traditional dish.

“I love it!” exclaimed Dylan, “I bet every family has their own secret recipe for this!”

Xavi, the native Valenciano imparting his rich culture to my Californian family, joined in the conversation. He was a little more familiar with Californian thinking.

“Dylan, we don’t change recipes in Spain; we follow them”.

Surprised, Dylan inquired, “Really, but why?” For him, and for me also, it is quite a concept to not change a recipe. At a barbecue or a family gathering in the U.S., one joy is to try the different homemade versions of our traditional foods. Most everyone has a specialty dish with its secret recipe, such as potato salad, pizza, sushi, or barbecue sauce.

When we sat down to bocadillos, Dylan, not understanding the menu, said: “I’ll have whatever Xavi has”. He was thrilled by the Spanish ham, cheese, egg, onions, and allioi combination served on a large baguette.

The next day, Dylan greeted Xavi at lunchtime with a homemade bocadillo. Impressed, Xavi exclaimed: “This is even better than the restaurant!”

“Of course,” smiled Dylan, “it’s my secret recipe.”

Dylan, Brandie, Hero and Lily enjoying Montesa cuisine. Photo

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