Jamón. Manchego cheese. Fideuà. Croquetas. Tortilla de patatas.
Gosh, I just love Spanish food. Thinking about it makes me so happy, and takes me back to living in Barcelona. It’s not just the flavors that bring me there, but memories of the culture I was surrounded by when I experienced them. Everyone taking time to sit down and enjoy good food together, talking about life and admiring the Sagrada Familia or cobblestone walkways of the Gothic Quarter. Food is such a big part of the daily culture there.
I’m really excited because starting this week, we can all experience this feeling and learn more about how Spanish food is such a big part of society in Spain. EatSpainUp! is a new initiative where chefs, designers, food experts, and more will showcase Spain’s “most precious cultural expression: its gastronomy,” specifically focusing on the regions of Madrid, Extremadura, and Burgos. There will be free pop-ups at Union Market, discounts and complimentary tastings at restaurants like Boqueria; as well as special talks and activities with people like Jose Andres.
If you’re as obsessed with Spain as I am, I know how excited you are for this!
The Former Residence of the Ambassador of Spain, located right off 16th Street, is also hosting two fun exhibits from now through October on the same themes. I was invited to check them out earlier this week and was honestly blown away by how interesting they were.
Since I was an anthropology major in undergrad, I was intrigued by how the designer, Manuel Estrada, worked with an anthropologist and photographers to showcase the intersections of food and society in Spain.
Manuel told us that the night before, he had dinner with Jose Andres at Minibar and he admired how Jose took time to explain the food’s significance, and didn’t just serve a plate for them to devour in five minutes. A picture of honey by Manuel even inspired Jose to create a special dessert that night.
According to Estrada, food inspires design, and design inspires food. I’ve never really thought about that before.
Some of his other designs show the intersections of societal things like food and sex, or food and country relations. Like this one, showing the European and United States relationship through a baguette and American flag.
Or his preliminary sketches – which he does for all projects – that show Freudian intersections.
And here he is, next to the M man which is supposed to be a whimsical self portrait.
I plan on going to all of the events next month. Here’s a list of them – some of which are already sold out, so, I recommend purchasing tickets ASAP. Let me know in the comments if you plan on checking out the exhibit, pop-ups, events, or dishes at the different Spanish restaurants!
Eat Spain Up! Events
At the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain
- September 21–October 29. Free.
- Exhibition. A journey across Spain’s geography through its most relevant foods, from cheese and wine to olive oil, its fish preserves or its coveted ham.
- September 21–October 29. Free.
- Exhibition. A retrospective of Spanish designer Manuel Estrada, exploring his work on and around food.
FOOD AND DESIGN. SLOW COOKING THE CREATIVE PROCESS
- On Thursday, September 21, at 6 pm. By invitation only.
- Presentation + Lecture + Tasting. On the occasion of the Eat Spain Up! opening, Spanish designer Manuel Estrada shares with the public his personal creative process and reflects on the similarities between graphic design and cuisine.
TASTING SPAIN: CUISINE, CULTURE, AND HERITAGE
- On Tuesday, October 3, at 6:45 pm. Buy tickets.
- Lecture + Tasting. As part of Smithsonian Associates Program, Eat Spain Up!’s Director, Gloria Rodriguez, guides us through the regions and tastes of the country, the traditions that make up its culinary heritage, and the contemporary innovation that transformed its gastronomic landscape. The evening includes a tasting of regional foods and wines from the guest region of Burgos.
LANDSCAPE TO TABLE. EXTREMADURA, THE ACORN MEADOWS, AND THE IBERIAN PIG
- On Friday, October 6, at 6:45 pm. Buy tickets.
- Screening + Discussion + Tasting. A conversation with U.S. food expert and scholar, Fabio Parasecoli (The New School) and Iberian Ham Producer Diego Pastor (Montaraz Ham) on the value of traditional food knowledge and respectful food production. Includes exclusive tasting of Iberian ham, regional cheeses and wines from the region.
FOOD MARKETS OF THE 21ST CENTURY. NEW DEVELOPMENTS FOR A NEW SOCIETY
- On Monday, October 16, at 6:45 pm. Buy tickets.
- Round Table + Tasting.
- A discussion with Montserrat Valle (Founder, Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid), and Richie Brandemburg (Director of Culinary Strategy, Union Market, DC), moderated by Tim Carman (Food Writer, The Washington Post), on the evolution of food markets and their role as places of exchange, consumption and socialization. Followed by tasting of regional products and traditional recipes from Madrid.
CHEFS AND INNOVATION. THE GASTRONOMIC REVOLUTION OF SPAIN
- On Thursday, October 19, at 6:45 pm. Buy tickets.
- Screening + Discussion + Tasting.
- Renowned Chef and Restaurateur José Andrés will discuss the past, present and future of the Spanish gastronomy revolution with Food Writer and Scholar Anne McBride, following the screening of the culinary documentary Snacks. Bites of a Revolution. The evening concludes with a sample tasting of Spanish wines.