¿Un huevo…cada mañana? my host mom said with a look of shock on her face, “No, tal vez dos o tres días cada semana mi niña.”
I had been warned by the orientation packet that I so scrupulously read that breakfasts in Spain ranged from small to non-existent, and I probably should have been prepared for Carmen’s incredulous response when I asked for a boiled egg every morning. But breakfast is a necessity for me. After 8 hours without a snack, my stomach starts growling the second I wake up, and the only thing that will satisfy it is a bit of protein, hence my request for a boiled egg. But unlike in the US, eggs are decidedly not a breakfast food in Spain though can be found in foods meant for pretty much any other time of day. Carmen and I eventually comprised on yogurt, fruit, and some galletas (think a simpler version of belVita Breakfast Biscuits) in the morning. But consistently by 11am I would find my stomach growling again. All I can say is gracias a dios for tortilla.
First, an important clarification; most Americans when they hear “tortilla” think of a Mexican tortilla, the kind used for tacos and quesadillas. Spanish tortilla, on the other hand, more resembles a frittata, and is made with eggs, potatoes, onions, and sometimes other additions such as chorizo, cheese, or vegetables.
I am not ashamed in the slightest that I have scouted out all the available tortilla options in the vicinity of my classes. El Picaro’s tortilla is a bit heavy on the potato and a bit too dry for my taste, but I can’t argue with their generous portion size. And El Mordisco’s tortilla, while small on portion size and the most expensive option I’ve found at €1.20, melts in my mouth and has notes of onion that I know have been slowly cooked before being incorporated into the egg. It’s the one I go for if I need a pick-me-up after a class in which my professor’s Spanish went in one ear and right out the other (luckily that happens a little less now). But the cafetería on the University of Salamanca’s campus is by far my favorite place to go as I can get a huge portion of tortilla, solo or on a roll, for only €0.75. I’m already mourning the day I won’t be surrounded by my new favorite filling and economical snack.
I was told when I first got to Salamanca that it would be good get into a routine. Buy apples from the same fruitería. Get coffee at the same café after class. And in time I would become a “conocida,” or a known person. Simply, when you show up in a Spaniard’s life again and again you become part of their life. Maybe after a few times you get a smile, and a few times more an hasta luego because they know they’ll see you again. I’ve become a conocida at the University of Salamanca cafetería due to my tortilla consumption. The lovely woman at the cafetería counter doesn’t even need to ask for my order anymore and just gives me a knowing look as she puts a piece of tortilla in the microwave. I suppose being a lover of tortilla isn’t the worst thing to be known for.