We were created to taste God’s glory. We experience Him in all kinds of ways, but I’ve come to believe that God’s glory comes alive most vividly through food, culture, and music.
King David reminds us in Psalm 34:8 that we are to “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” This Psalm illuminates that we can experience God and His goodness with all of our senses.
I love how Author Margaret Feinberg talks about God as the original foodie in her book Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers.
She writes, “If the God of the Bible uses food to open his people to divine possibility and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then it stands to reason that God wants to do the same with us now.”
This week my family has been sheltering-at-home in Central California as Covid-19 rages in our region. My kids still have a week left of winter break and typically we would take this time to travel. However, we have decided to make the best of what we have and travel the world from the comfort of our home. We are inviting you to join us on this journey! We are sharing recipes, books, movies, and other resources that you can access to “taste and see” the various countries and peoples of the world. We are reimagining travel together.
You might consider doing something similar this week, month, or year. Pick a country you’d like to visit as a family and explore it on a stay-in Saturday night or throughout a period time. Order food or try some new recipes from scratch. Listen, watch, taste, touch, and smell the flavors of that place with your loved ones. We will help guide you!
When my late husband Ericlee turned 30, we took a birthday trip to Spain to visit his cousins. This was also our first year of marriage so it was a fun adventure to plan and take an international trip across the globe together.
First stop: Alicante, Spain.
Alicante is located in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. I remember the weather was warm, and the beaches were beautiful. Our cousins took us to see the castles and cathedrals that are special landmarks in this area.
My favorite was visiting the outdoor markets. This foodie was in heaven walking to the market almost daily for fresh produce, spices, cheeses, olives. and sweet treats. The smell of saffron and spiced meats tickled my nose. The rainbow colors of ripe tomatoes, peppers, onions, and beans danced before my eyes. The sounds of vendors calling out sales and people bargaining filled the air. I remember feeling intoxicated by the aroma of fresh baguettes from the bakery.
The Spaniards love their tapas – small plates of hearty appetizers served up alongside heartier dishes like the famous paella made of rice, vegetables and seafood.
During our time in Spain, Ericlee and I were also celebrating our anniversary so we booked a weekend in Barcelona and embarked on a breathtaking train ride through the country to get there. I remember we arrived late at night and walked the streets of Barcelona in search of our hotel, which was supposed to be close to the train station.
After an hour of wandering, I asked someone in my broken Spanish for help only to discover our hotel was actually in the train station.
I immediately fell in love with Barcelona. The little shops and street vendors, the sapphire sky and cobblestone streets felt absolutely magical. Something out of a different world. A different time in history.
My favorite night was when we made a reservation at a local restaurant that boasted a full flamenco dance show after the meal. We dined and then watched as they danced. Flamenco dance is characterized by its expressive use of the arms and rhythmic stamping of the feet. There are many styles of flamenco dance.
We loved the emotional intensity of the dances, which incorporated a kind of conversation back and forth between dancers and guitarists. The colorful swinging skirts and fancy footwork was a feast for the eyes.
For our family’s Spanish night, we worked together in the kitchen to make paella and Spanish tortilla, which is like an omelet made with sliced potatoes. My oldest sliced a baguette, and we filled a bowl with signature Spanish olives. I shared stories around the table with my girls about our trip to Spain. Then we watched the movie Ferdinand.
(Scroll down for my ideas to incorporate into your “travels.”)
2-3 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
10 whole chicken legs or 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red pepper, 1-inch strips
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup peeled prawns/shrimp, cooked
2 cups chicken broth
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
3 c. short grain rice (arborio or risotto rice)
1 t. saffron or paella spice
1 cup frozen peas
1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Begin by selecting a paella pan. Choose the largest frying pan or wide pot you have with shallow sides.
- Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium-high heat.
- Add chicken to olive oil and allow to brown on all sides.
- Meanwhile, chop onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
- When browned, add garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes to pan with chicken.
- Add 3 cups rice to paella pan. Add 2 cups chicken broth on top of the rice.
- Add 1 can tomato sauce. Lightly mix and allow to cook.
- Add 2 more cups chicken broth or water. Sprinkle with paella spice (colorante alimentario) or saffron. Do not mix. Allow rice to cook and soak up water.
- Add salt and pepper along with 2 additional cups water and allow to simmer.
- Meanwhile, sauté shrimp in olive oil in separate pan.
- When liquid is soaked up and rice is cooked (approximately 40 minutes), sprinkle peas across the top.
- Arrange shrimp on top. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve in pan.
1 pound waxy potatoes
2 cups Spanish olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprigs flatleaf parsley for garnish
- Peel the potatoes, cut into small cubes or wedges, then put on a clean dish towel and dry well.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottom or nonstick skillet. Add the potato pieces and onions, then lower heat and cook the potatoes, stirring frequently so they are tender but not browned. (The secret of success is to cook the potatoes for a long time so that they absorb the flavor of the oil and are cooked but not browned or crisp, and do not fall apart.)
- Meanwhile, beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper.
- Set a strainer over a large bowl. When the potatoes and onions are cooked, strain them so the bowl catches the oil. Set the oil aside. When the potatoes and onions are well-drained, gently stir them into the beaten eggs.
- Wipe the skillet clean or wash it if necessary, to prevent the tortilla from sticking. Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserve oil in the skillet.
- When hot, add the egg and potato mixture, lower the heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the underside is set. Use a spatula to push the potatoes down into the eggs so that they are completely submerged and keep loosening the tortilla from the bottom of the skillet to stop it sticking.
- To cook the second side of the tortilla, cover the pan with a plate. Flip onto a plate. Then slide the tortilla back into the pan. Cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until set underneath.
- The tortilla is cooked when it is firm and crisp on the outside and a little runny on the inside. Flip onto a serving plate and let stand for 15 minutes.
- To serve, cut into wedges or small squares and garnish with parsley sprigs.
Ideas from our Spanish night:
- Order Spanish tapas or paella from a local restaurant or try out some recipes. I love A famous Spanish dessert to make or order is flan.
- Watch the animated short, Ferdinand the Bull, made in 1938 and based on the book with the same name. In 2017, Disney also released a full-length animated movie called Ferdinand.
- Read a book together. A few of our favorites include:
–Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf (ages 3-5)
–Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey Kyle (ages 5-9)
4. Listen to some Spanish flamenco music here.
*We would love to hear from you. Which ideas did you try? What ideas did you incorporate in your exploration of Spain? Leave us a comment.