Rosario: it´s all about sharing
Spending some relaxing days at Rosario´s home where dinners with friends is a must. Cooking la paella, typical Mediterranean dish in Costa Blanca, and being a witness of her dedication and creativity during the process.
WHO: Rosario, warrior of life
HER PLACES: Altea (Costa Blanca, Valencia) & Sanchonuño (Castilla y León), Spain
HER PASSION: life, family, friends, Arabic culture
HER nutrisophy: slow breakfast, lots of vegetables and soups, everything from scratch, food is enjoyable when accompanied with good and loving people
Rosario & Me
The story of Rosario and me starts back in 2002.
I had just graduated from the university and thrilled about starting my big adventure – working as a volunteer in Spain. Without speaking any Spanish and never before travelled by plane, off I went. My excitement carried me along.
Fortunately, the Universe took care of me the best possible way and had chosen Rosario as my mentor. She was a CEO of the organization where I spent my next six months doing everything needed. Since then we have shared many significant moments of each other´s lives, good ones as well as more challenging ones. Even if we don´t share our thoughts and emotions so often, we both know that there is a special place in our hearts for each other.
After my volunteering-experience, I have returned to this picturesque Mediterranean town Altea several times. This October I visited Rosario in her beautiful home after five years and we had wonderful time catching up. I enjoyed every minute I spent with Rosario and her 94-years-old father Vivencio who had some great stories to share. It´s hard to find better host than Rosario, she loves to serve her guests and make them feel comfortable and pampered.
As I remembered her paellas from previous visits, I asked if she would like to prepare one and be my blog guest. Knowing how much love she puts into every dish, how much she likes to share her food and cooking skills, I´m so grateful that I may present Rosario to you and invite you to her house.
Rosario & Food
Rosario was born in Sanchonuño village, province of Segovia in Castilla y León near Madrid. A small village with less than 1000 inhabitants, Sanchonuño is a place best known for growing pine trees to harvest delicious pine seeds. Back then, the life there was very traditional, men working long days outside and women staying home taking care of the children and household tasks.
Rosario´s food memories from her childhood are all connected with family. Every Sunday there was a festive family gathering lasting for hours, starting with lunch and ending after dinner. They brought out special tableware and Rosario still remembers an incredibly beautiful coffee set they had for these occasions.
Rosario loved the social part of the meal times much more than the food itself. Her mother Alejandra wanted to express her love through the food but Rosario just didn´t want to eat much. When her elder brother told her not to sit on the table if she is not going to eat, she was begging him to let her stay just because she wanted to be part of socializing and loving atmosphere.
Her mother liked to cook and typical dishes prepared at home were cannelloni or tortilla (Spanish omelet) with artichokes among others. Duck was the main poultry used, roasted duck being a festive dish to celebrate different fiestas. The sweets were mainly dates, plums and raisins. Even though paella wasn´t typical dish in this area of Spain, Rosario´s Mom loved to prepare rice dishes including her own versions of paella. During Easter, they used to eat the meat-free options, combinations of fish and vegetables – spinach and anchovies, cauliflower and codfish etc. Her childhood´s favorite dessert was coconut custard made of their own chickens´ eggs.
After high school, Rosario started to study the Arabic philology in the University of Madrid. During her studies, she was lucky to have an opportunity to spend four summers in Tunes practicing Arabic language. She was visiting local homes, getting to know their culture and flavors and loved the food there – couscous and semolina, variety of vegetables, meat dishes, grilled fish, sweets with almonds and dates, pistachio, honey… They also paid a lot of attention to the table setting, choosing the most decorative tableware.
In the beginning of 80´s, after getting married and having a daughter Zaida, Rosario moved to Costa Blanca region in Southern Spain with her family. Here she started to blend all these food experiences together – favorite dishes from childhood, exotic tastes from her summers in Tunes and local food from Valencia region. She uses all kind of vegetables when cooking and one of her favorite dish to prepare is eggplant stuffed with minced meat, tomatoes, onion and béchamel sauce. From desserts, she points out an apple cake as her trademark pastry. Being already familiar with paella, she now started to play with different ingredients and created her own versions with meat, fish and all kind of seafood Valencian region has to offer.
Rosario has travelled a lot and is always enjoying the local cuisine when visiting different countries. She loves foie gras from France, Italian pastas, German potato dishes… When visiting her daughter Zaida (who is now a dancer/choreographer/playwriter) in Argentina and Mexico, Rosario appreciates the tastes of these two diverse cultures.
Her days start with slow breakfast including coffee and fresh orange juice with some whole grain cookies and soft cheese. For lunch some fish or meat with vegetables, for dinner mostly salads.
She knows to listen to her own body. After eating unbalanced and not feeling so well, she prepares herself tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet) to nourish her body and get her energy back.
As when she was a little girl, the most important part of the food for Rosario is socializing and sharing. She says:
“When I have good people around me, I enjoy everything about food – cooking, tasting, and smelling.”
At weekends, Rosario´s house is always full of incredible flavors, irresistible aromas and happy people. Cooking is pure joy if you have people around you with whom to share your creativity and secrets.
What did we cook?
Una paella a la Rosario.
Her own interpretation of this typical dish of Valencian region of Spain. It takes time and patience to say the least, but the outcome is just exquisite.
Find the recipe below!
Paella a la Rosario
Enough for four people
Preparation time about 1,5 hours
gluten free, dairy free
4 green beans
1 sprig of parsley
1 garlic clove
1 small onion
Some chicken, beef ribs
– Take a large pot, fill with water, add some sea salt and put the meat into it.
– Peel the turnip, parsnip, carrots, leek and onion and cut into chunks. Put all of them and beans, parsley and garlic into water.
– Bring to a boil and simmer for at least one hour to have a rich, tasty stock.
1 kg of meat (rabbit, pork, chicken)
Pan-roast meat with some olive oil, set aside.
Handful of green beans (about 10 pieces)
5 green garlic or 3 garlic cloves
1 red, yellow and green bell pepper
1 ñora, dried red bell pepper (learn more here) if available
– Prepare the vegetables chopping garlic into small pieces and cutting asparagus in half, leaving green beans whole. Slice the bell peppers.
– Cut ñora into small pieces and use mortar to crush it with pinch of sea salt and one garlic clove.
– Pan-roast all vegetables with some olive oil, set aside.
Preparation of paella
4 small cups of rice (1 cup per person)
pinch of saffron
previously roasted meat and vegetables
12 small cups of stock (3:1 ratio, three cups of stock to one cup of rice)
handful of parsley
– Add 4 small cups of rice on the paella pan (1 cup per person). If you do not have a special paella pan, no worries, you can perfectly use a big saucepan instead.
– Add sliced tomatoes, chopped parsley, pinch of saffron and crushed ñora.
– Put the paella pan on the fire and mix the ingredients. Add roasted vegetables and meat.
– Add stock using the same cup you used to measure rice, ratio 3:1. You can use the rest of the stock for soups, stews etc.
– Mix well, bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Add stock if needed.
– Enjoy with some drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice and good people.