Monday, December 21, 2009

Fabulous Food

Olive oil! Salt! Tomatoes! Bread!
What more can we ask for?
I laughed a when I first understood the expression ‘patomaquet’. Bread and tomato? That’s the typical dish of the area?
I was unprepared for the serious and staunch pride of this simple Catalan fare by its people.
‘si, si patomaquet!’
When I first saw people pouring olive oil onto their bread, I was quite literally horrified. In Australia, we’ve been well tutored in the risks of cholesterol and heart disease and we use a table spoon of oil to cook with. 

Here, you pour olive oil with indulgence and some sort of innate knowledge of the ‘right’ amount.
I grew up with plain British traditions and was often served ‘meat and two veg’. This means dinner was a lamb chop and two sorts of vegetables, one of them green and the other a potato.
In the 1990’s there was, at some levels of our society, a kick away from the traditions and a movement towards embracing the different cultures Australia had attracted. The Mediterranean one included.

The Mediterranean diet has been happily modified for the Australian palate. We drink more wine, we drink more coffee and we love our three p’s – Pasta, Pizza and Paella.
But again, the ‘real’ thing is not quite the same as it was back home.
For one thing, your olive oil tastes really really good. The friends I told you about last time, they were ‘ohhhing’ and ‘aaahhhing’ in a most embarrassing way every time they put something in their mouths.

The smell of olive oil is addictive.
Then you add a little salt, garlic, put it all onto a slice of white farm style bread. Place a few slices of juicy tomato on top! Ohhh! It looks like Australia is ready to add another P to our favourites – Patomaquet!

Originally published in Revista del Valles

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