Candyland in Salamanca: A Small-Sample Case-Study of Spanish Cuisine
After a few weeks with my Salamantino host family, I have discovered that Spaniards possess immense pride in their history, culture, language and especially their food. Whether it be paella or empanadas or tortilla (not the Mexican kind — this dish is more like an omelet), they’ll likely tell you it is THE best. Understandable.
My Spanish madre raves about the “Mediterranean Diet” boasting it as the healthiest in the world, and although my health-nuttiness would beg to contest some of her strong opinions, there is so much that I (and my taste buds) appreciate. One such thing would be fruit for dessert. Post-meal apples, oranges, bananas and melon force me to go out and pay for sweet tooth indulgences, thereby impeding the acquisition of what I like to call the European Eighteen. It’s like the legendary Freshman Fifteen of the American university, except kind of worse. Or better. All in the mouth of the be-taster.
I have a real weakness for ice cream, rendering Salamanca near-heaven for me. No exaggeration, every other shop is an heladería (ice cream shop). My favorite so far is in the southwest corner of the Plaza Mayor – cheapest, biggest portions, yummiest, convenient location; everything an addict could wish for. There’s also Ben & Jerry’s on the Rua Mayor if you’re homesick.
Other decadent treats abound in pastelerías if baked goods are your thing, or churros and chocolate at most coffee shops. I tried some scrumptious bit of loveliness called ponche while on an ISA excursion in Segovia – sweet custard-almond-something-cake wrapped like a present in what seemed to be unbaked sugar cookie dough accented with the flavor of roasted marshmallow. I don’t know; it was good.
Ham is also HUGE here in Salamanca, not that this particularly relates to dessert. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Spanish dessert which includes ham though. Haven’t discovered it yet – better get on that.
Essentially, if you like the science of food consumption, particularly sweet food, you and your taste buds will be happy here.