When I made chili for my roommates a few years ago in honor of the Super Bowl (we weren’t watching—just eating), most of them couldn’t take more than a few bites without uttering some expletives and putting their spoons down. They loved the corn bread, though.

There’s not a particularly serious culture of spicy food in Spain. I’m not quite sure why Spanish gastronomy shies away from a little heat in food, but it’s worlds away from the U.S.’s Mexican/Thai/horseradish/hot sauce-loving culture. The spice aversion runs so deep here that plenty of ethnic food (from Creole to Indian) has been tamed to please the Spanish spice-shy palate.

This is not to say there aren’t exceptions. Patatas bravas are fried potatoes with a famously spicy tomato sauce, though I think the sauce tends to be more vinegary than anything. Gulas, fake baby eels, are sometimes sautéed with garlic and a sprinkling of chilies. And then there’s La Rioja—where they apparently love spicy things. I discovered this not long ago on a trip to the land of great wines; we ordered a tapa of roasted red peppers and they were hot! A friend recently brought over a can of these Riojan red peppers—amusingly enough called alegrías riojanas (“Riojan happinesses”)—for me to try and they (along with the chili I made the other day) have sated my appetite for heat for the time being.


3 Responses to “Heat”

  1. 1 Jeff Monday, 8 February, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Interesting to know, since we tend to malign Americans for watered down flavors and tastes.

  2. 2 Hitesh Sawlani Tuesday, 9 February, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    I recommend trying some pimiento padrón !

  3. 3 Katie Tuesday, 9 February, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    It’s true, Hitesh: I forgot to mention one of my favorite Spanish foods: pimientos de padrón.

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