As Emeril used to say, I wish I had smell-a-blog. (Well, OK, he said smell-a-vision). My kitchen in Spain has a heady fragrance of wood fire and smoke. That’s because we’re the lucky recipients of 3 kilos of the magical spice that gives so many Spanish recipes a distinctive flavor — Pimentón — Smoked Spanish Paprika.
I don’t know if it’s all Spaniards, or just our particular friends, but it seems that almost everyone we meet here is a food or wine (or both) aficionado. Somehow we’ve managed to snag friendships with some really savvy foodies, and one couple has decided it’s their personal mission in life to keep us, and half the population of our Colorado home, well stocked with pimentón.
The deep red powdered spice made from long red dried peppers gives an incredible smoky, kind of earthy flavor to all kinds of foods from some versions of paella (but don’t tell a Valencian native I said that), to lentils, to the Spanish take on cous cous. And ya gotta love the poetic nature of Spaniards when they talk about their food. Here’s part of the description from the website for Pimentón de la Vera — the best of the best pimentón that’s earned it’s own “Denomination of Origin” designation, much like the method used to certify great wines:
“The growing of the pepper to produce pimentón was introduced into La Vera in the 16th century by the Jeronimian monks of the Yuste monastery. Tradition and wisdom shook hands to create, in the infinite calm of the monastery, the most valuable treasure that the Jeronimians could give to the senses.”
Dontcha just love it? And you can taste the tradition and wisdom shaking hands when you try this red gold. But don’t take my word for it — go find it, and get yourself some (you can buy it at many online stores — just be sure you buy Pimentón de la Vera). You can thank me later.