Andorra - Week #4
Original meal date: 12/27/17
One of the main reasons I wanted to start this cooking journey was that it seemed like such a wonderful and interactive way to teach my son about the world. I loved the idea of sitting down every week and learning about a different country - finding it on the map and talking a little bit about the food, the people and the culture. He was only two at the time (and really couldn't have cared less) but I was hopeful that as he got older it would be something he would look forward to each week and that it would allow him to grow up with a rich understanding and appreciation of the world.
Week 4 was where it became shockingly clear to me that he was not the only one that would be learning here. I came face to face with the fact that my own knowledge of the world is..... lacking. Andorra? Where the heck is Andorra? This is a country? I had never even heard of the place! Not only did I need to research recipes from this apparent country but first I needed to just find it on the darn map! I remember this week was the first time that I actually felt overwhelmed with what I had taken on. Cooking a meal from every country in the world (and attempting to know enough about each country in order to do it justice) is a big undertaking. It felt daunting and bigger than me. But the nerves quickly gave way to excitement. Sure there was a lot I didn't know about the world but I was giving myself an opportunity to learn. I was proud of that.
The realization that this would not just be a challenge but also an education gave me a renewed energy. I was that much more excited about my choice to do this.
By the way (because I know I am not alone here in my ignorance) Andorra a tiny little country nestled in between Spain and France and it is a pretty fascinating place!
Week #4 Andorra
Whole Grilled Trout
Trinxat - fried potato and cabbage pancake with bacon
Wilted Spinach with Chanterelles and Trumpets
Whole Grilled Trout
Not only is Andorra landlocked, it actually has no train stations or airports within the country. With such limited transportation I imagine that fresh seafood isn't on the menu daily. However, there are a number of lakes and rivers which means there are plenty of trout to catch. It seems like Andorra is actually something of a fly fishing destination. So I decided on whole grilled trout as the main course.
I was a tad bit nervous about attempting to cook an entire fish - skin on, head still attached, eyes looking at me. It wasn't something I had done before. Looking back it seems a bit silly that I was nervous over something that I now know to be so simple. But please remember I am not a chef and wasn't, before I started this adventure, a particularIy adventurous cook. The closest I had gotten previous to this was searing salmon with the skin on. But I picked up my trout from the store and did a youtube search for "how to cook a whole fish." I was delighted to see how beautifully simple it is.
I threw some oil and salt and pepper on the outside of the fish, brushed the inside with a healthy slab of butter, a few lemon slices, garlic and some parsley and tossed those bad boys on the grill. My sweet, albeit not particularly careful, husband maned the grill and flipped the fish. And while they fell apart a little and weren't particularly beautiful, they tasted damn good! I would call our first attempt at grilling a whole trout a tasty, slightly awkward looking, success.
Trinxat, which means "chopped" or "mashed" is a dish specific to Andorra and Catalonia. This is an incredibly tasty side dish made with potatoes and cabbage that have been boiled together and then roughly mashed (appropriately). It's then mixed with bacon, formed into pancakes and fried. It's fried potato and bacon, I feel like I don't need to try to convince anyone that it tastes good. Rich and flavorful with a crispy golden brown crust. It went great with the trout and I would absolutely make this again.
Wilted Spinach with Chanterelles and Trumpet Mushrooms
Now this dish ended up being a bit of an improvisation for me. I found a few recipes for a warm spinach and mushroom salad from Andorra that called for raisins and pine nuts. While I was at the store shopping I was so excited to find the chanterelles and the trumpet mushrooms that completely forgot to pick up pine nuts. And I brazenly assumed that I already had raisins at home. I did not. So instead of running to the store at the last minute I decided to roll with it and simply make some wilted spinach with mushrooms. I don't know how traditionally "Andorran" it is but it was simple and delicious.
A few fun facts about Andorra:
Andorra is considered a micronation. It is only 181 square miles and is the 16th smallest country in the world.
Andorra is the world's only co-principality, meaning it is ruled by two different monarchs. The monarchs are, however, not determined by lineage. The two princes of the country are whoever is the current president of France and the Catholic Bishop of Urgell (Catalonia). So one of their monarchs is elected by another country and the other is appointed by the Pope.
There are no train stations or airports within the country of Andorra. The closest train station is at L'Hospitalet-pres-Andorre, which literally translates to The Hospital Close to Andorra.
This week in our lives:
Merry Christmas from our little family of three! I realize I'm writing this in May but I cooked this meal the week of Christmas 2017. Also a fun little tidbit, about a month and a half after this picture was taken we found out we were no longer going to be a family of just three!
I was lucky enough to get to paint this as a Christmas present for one of my dance students. The student, Hannah, was the lead in our studio's ballet production of Babes in Toyland that year and her mom commissioned a painting of her as "Mary." I absolutely adore Hannah and was so happy to get to create a little memento for her.