Schweinsteiger. Say it with me. Shvine-stiger. It’s almost as satisfying as saying Schwarzwelder kirschtorte. It has to be one of my very favourite German words, along with Sparkasse (pronounced, shpark-ass-e, and which is not the German word for cattle prod, but rather for a chain of ‘savings’ banks), arschloch (pronounced arsh-lock, which needn’t be defined for you learned people), and one from a book of groß (pronounced gross, meaning ‘large’ in Deutsch) German words describing odd human behaviour, given to me by dear Kel, who knows I have a thing for German: kissenküllelabsal, apparently meaning the instant relief and pleasure of a cool pillow. The longest word I’ve found, of which there are many in Deutsch given their fabulous use of compound words, and from the same book, Schottenfreude, is kraftfahrzeugsinnenausstattungsneugeruchsgenuss. Now if you can say that, my heartfelt congratulations. It’s a heffer of a word. This apparently means ‘new car smell’. So many letters to convey one of my own favourite smells. Only in the beautiful language that is Deutsch.
‘Schweinsteiger’ is not the German equivalent of ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’–a word to say when you don’t know what to say, as Poppins so wonderfully declared. I so wish it was. It is in fact the name of German footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger, and it means ‘pig climber’. Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s not the most dignified of names. But as a champion footballer in a country of many brilliant footballers and many more brilliant pork wursts, this could make a lot of sense. I’ll let you ponder that one for a bit. A quick Google search brings up much on this topic, I have discovered.
As mentioned in my Baleadas post, my Publishing House X football fiesta month included a Copa del Decoratión. On taking in the early stages of the decoration of ‘pod Germany’, I advised pod occupier Sarah that although she was ‘doing good’, it would be much better if she also included a picture of my boy Schweiny. She did, and she made me proud once again by plastering his name and player number on her T-shirt for the Finalmente Evente, the dress-up party. And while I would have loved to have worn a Spanish flag wrapped around my body, Grecian style, with a kangaroo on my head (as an ode to my three teams), it was all too much after all three had bombed out – Spain in the most underwhelming fashion.
Although I was incredibly disappointed in La Roja, I decided I would pay them some heed in the morning tea that I held at the end of the first group stage: my ‘For all the teams I’ve loved before: a commiseration morning tea’ morning tea. I’m so very proud of this title (and I’m sure I’m not the only one old enough to understand the song reference). It was here that I served my tortilla. This was not a giant, single tortilla begging to become an epic burrito; rather, it was a large omelette/frittata filled with confit potatoes. So simple, so delicious. It was the first and last nod to Spain during my month of football celebrations.
There aren’t many ingredients in this one, but it takes some love in the method to create the perfect Spanish tortilla. Please don’t be frightened by the ridiculous amount of olive oil required for this recipe. You won’t actually consume it all, and it can be recycled for further confit experiments. Olé, enjoy and bonne chance with the flipping of the frying pan. It didn’t quite work out for me!
10-12 medium floury potatoes
1-2 medium brown onions
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped or minced
1.2 litres olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 good quality fresh chorizo sausage (optional)
Peel and wash the potatoes, then cut them into 1.5cm squares. I know this sounds exact, but you don’t want the potatoes too big (so that you bite through big chunks of potato that separate from the yummy surrounding omelette) or too small (so that they become seeped with oil and lose their floury goodness).
For the traditional and also vegetarian option, place the potato, onion and garlic in a heavy-based pan or ceramic pot, then cover with most of the olive oil to confit the ingredients. If you wish to go the chorizo option, remove the sausage meat from its casing and cut into small pieces, roughly the same size as the potatoes. Confit at the same time as the other ingredients. To confit, cover and cook the ingredients on a low heat for about 30 minutes, watching that the oil does not bubble. The potatoes should be soft and not at all crunchy. When you’re satisfied with your soft, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes, place in a sieve to drain the oil. Be sure to catch the oil in a plastic container and then place this in your fridge to be used for future confit fun.
Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and season to taste. Be generous with the salt – there’s a heap of potatoes in there! Add the potato mix and then gently mix.
Heat a large frying pan with the remaining olive oil and pour the egg and potato mixture in. Give the pan a shake or use a spatula to ensure the potatoes are evenly spread. This tortilla should resemble a large, perfectly-shaped disc – ‘should’ being the operative word. If, like me, you’re clumsy, I suggest you let this baby cook away on a low heat for about 8-10 minutes, covered, and then place it under the grill (if your pan is ovenproof) to quickly cook the top, leaving it a little wobbly. If you’re a deft hand with a hot frying pan, place a plate over the top of the tortilla after about 2 minutes of cooking (covered) and then flip the pan over, so that the tortilla is upside-down on the plate. Gently slide the tortilla back into the pan and then smooth the top with a spatula. Do this plate flippage manoeuvre a couple more times until your tortilla is just cooked and a little but wobbly.
Turn the heat off, cover, and set aside the tortilla for about 2 minutes. Place on a plate and cover with cling wrap until you are ready to serve, ideally serving the tortilla at room temperature. Decorate with a piccolo Spanish flag, little Lego bulls, or a similarly tacky Spanish item.
If you want to take this to the next level, place a slice of tortilla into a buttered crunchy white roll, for your very own bocadillo. Wohlverpackungsfreude (delight at a perfectly wrapped parcel)!