We’ve progressed far enough in our Spanish lessons that we’re no longer focusing on grammar. Our current lessons are likely to be conversational in nature. The maestra will pick a particular topic dealing with Spanish culture or history and we’ll discuss it, or at least attempt to. About a month ago we learned about El Dia del Libro y la Rosa (The Day of the Book and the Rose) which is celebrated on April 23 each year. There are a number of famous European writers who were either born or died within a few days of this date, among them Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare both of whom died in 1616. It’s also St. Jordi’s (St. George’s) day which in Catalonia is similar to Valentine’s Day. So, in 1923 a few book sellers started a new tradition and combined the two. It’s been celebrated world wide since 1995.
On this day, the custom in Spain is to exchange a book or a rose with a loved one. There are stalls set up with books and roses for sale. I was so charmed to learn this I made note to devote a blog post to the topic.
Cervantes, of course, was the author of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha which was published in 1605. Our hero Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza traveled throughout the kingdom of La Mancha where they probably had (literary) migas on more than one occasion.
Migas is considered pastoral fare, meaning it was something the shepherds would have eaten. It’s plain food, made from stale bread and whatever vegetables, eggs or bits of meat they had available. The bulk of the calories comes from the oil the migas are fried in. They’re traditionally cooked over an open fire in a pot which strongly resembles a wok and were probably washed down with the local red wine. (Wiki)
In La Mancha they make a type of bread called “candeal” that has a different texture than the bread we typically eat in the US. It crumbles easily and since crumbs are migas that’s where the dish gets its name. To make your migas you could grate the bread to make crumbs or rip it into pieces or do like we did and cut it into cubes. I used about the equivalent of a piece of toast for each of us.
Things move quickly once you start cooking, so make sure all the ingredients are prepped and your plates are ready for serving. I used Spanish chorizo mostly for flavoring. Once the fat renders out the pieces are very hard. Take them out if you don’t want to eat them, use a different type of sausage or omit them all together.
- 1 onion, sliced into petals
- 1 bell pepper, cut into strips (I used multiple colors, but use what you have)
- 1 - 2 cups day old bread (any white or sourdough you have on hand), cut into cubes or made into crumbs
- 2 oz of Spanish chorizo, chopped
- 2 eggs
- olive oil for frying
- salt, pepper and smoky paprika to taste
- Heat oil in a large skillet or wok pan until very hot. Fry the onions and peppers until softened. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a plate to hold.
- Add more oil if necessary and fry the chorizo until the fat is rendered from the sausage.
- Fry the bread crumbs in the oil, season with salt, pepper and smoky paprika.
- Remove the migas to a plate and hold.
- Add more oil if necessary then fry the eggs in your preferred manner.
- While the eggs are frying arrange the veggies and migas on a plate. Top with the fried egg and a sprinkle of smoky paprika.
- Serve right away.
If you were to encounter a shepherd cooking migas, they wouldn’t look like these. They’ll look like fried bread crumbs with a couple pieces of onions and peppers. But, in the spirit of Don Quixote, let’s use our imagination and enjoy our migas no matter how they look.
I consider myself an avid reader, but nowadays most of my books are on my Kindle. Some of my favorite authors include Nora Roberts/JD Robb, Karin Slaughter and Diana Gabaldon. Recently I spent some time reading Octavia E Butler’s works. If you’re familiar with the writers you can tell I read a variety of genres, but I especially like science fiction and fantasy. How about you? Do you read many books? Who are your favorites? Would you rather be given a rose?