Let’s hear it for Spain!

Today is the Fiesta Nacional de España (sounds a lot better in Spanish, doesn’t it?). There’s a very historical reason why it is celebrated today; it commemorates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ first arrival in the Americas, on October 12 1492.

Quite a few countries think this is something to mark and celebrate. In the United States, the second Monday of October is Columbus Day. In Bahamas, it is Discovery Day, in Costa Rica Day of the Cultures, in Argentina, Chile and Mexico Day of the Race and in Venezuela, Day of Indigenous Resistance. 

In Spain, it was previously called Día de la Hispanidad, to mark the ties with the international Hispanic community. It has been celebrated since 1935, and it became a national holiday in 1981. Spain actually has two national celebrations, there’s also Constitution Day on December 6. And since October 12 also happens to be the Day of the Armed Forces, there’s an important military parade in Madrid, led by the King and the Prime Minister. Other than that, it’s mostly an opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

And it’s a good excuse to try out the art of making a Spanish omelette (tortilla). Pour yourself a glass of nice Spanish wine while you cook (the chef’s privilege).

Tortilla Española (Spanish omelette)

3 to 4 good potatoes
1 small onion
1 cup olive oil (don’t worry, you’ll drain most of it)
6 -7 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper




  • Peel potatoes and onion and slice them very thin.
  • Heat oil in a 20 – 25 cm (8-10 inches) skillet over medium-high until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and onions in even layers and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, while flipping around to make sure the potatoes cook evenly, until tender. The potatoes should not get brown.
  • Drain potatoes and onions, season with salt and pepper and let cool slightly.
  • In the meantime, beat eggs lightly in a bowl big enough for the potato mixture, with salt and pepper. Stir in the potatoes and onions, and preferably leave for about 10 minutes.
  • Put the mixture in the skillet on medium-high (using some of the drained oil), flatten until fairly even. Reduce heat to medium-low. Move the skillet and let the eggs run underneath for a minute, then cook until the top is wet but not very runny, and it is golden underneath.
  • Loosen the tortilla with a spatula then slide it onto a large plate. Invert the skillet over the plate and flip it back (then take a zip of that wine!) Use a spatula to gently tuck the edges back under.
  • Cook it for 2-4 minutes, depending on how done or slightly runny you like it.
  • Serve in wedges, hot or cold or in between. You can add things, but why not keep it simple?

¡que aproveche!

By Unni Holtedahl, October 12 2013

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