I didn’t eat my first bite of Tortilla Espanola in Spain.
Instead, the first bite of this amazingly delicious dish happened in London, UK when Ester, the Spanish homeowner, and friend of our London house sit, made us an authentic Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Tortilla) for dinner.
Until that moment, I had no idea that the simplicity of eggs, potatoes, and onions cooked together could make such a beautiful harmony of flavors. That’s because I have horrible flashbacks of the potatoes, onions, and eggs that my father would cook up for us as kids.
Dad always left the onions crunchy and the potatoes just barely cooked before he scrambled eggs into them. Completely yucky, especially for a kid. So when Ester suggested making the Tortilla Espanola for us, I admit to feeling
a little a lot of doubt that the dish would be tasty.
But now, I’m so in love. I just couldn’t imagine my life without having the Tortilla Espanola in it, which is why I had to share the recipe with you.
History of the Tortilla Espanola
Also known as tortilla de patatas or Spanish tortilla, the Tortilla Espanola combines the pure goodness of eggs, potatoes, and onions. Although the onions are up for debate depending on the cook you talk to in Spain. For a dish that wasn’t introduced into Spanish society until the 1800’s, it really is amazing how you can find a version of it on just about any menu across Spain.
Actually, there are two debates surrounding the Tortilla Espanola:
- Whether the authentic dish should have onions or not.
- And who created it.
Neither of these debates will ever be solved.
As far as the onions, it comes down to personal preference. I make mine with onions because that’s how Ester taught me. And I love the sweet goodness of the onions, potatoes, and eggs together.
Who Created the Tortilla Espanola?
On who created the dish: the history of the creation of the Spanish tortilla is quite murky. One version says the dish was created by Tomas de Zumalazarregui to feed his armies. Another mentions a Navarran housewife made it for Tomas de Zumalazarregui. While still another claims Teodor Bardaji Mas, an Aragonese cook, was the creator.
The only thing we know for sure is the Tortilla Espanola wasn’t created until the Spaniards met the Incas in South America. Because that is where the potato comes from!
Personally, I think the Tortilla Espanola came from South American. History records show a similar potato and egg dish being served in South American a couple of hundred years before the Spanish “discovered” the potato.
But who knows! It’s a mystery that will probably never be solved. And who really cares? I would rather just shut up and eat!
Regardless of stories you choose to believe, the Tortilla Espanola is now an essential part of Spanish cuisine. It’s also easy to find since almost every tapa menu includes one. We highly recommend trying one or several when in Spain. Each one will be different as each cook has his or her own recipe including some with meat, vegetables, and cheese.
And for the times, when you’re not in Spain, here’s Ester’s recipe for Tortilla Espanola. It’s so easy to make, delicious, and healthy. Plus it’s the perfect dish for carrying to work, on a picnic, or anywhere on the go. And it’s an awesome make-ahead dish, tasting just as good fresh as it does a day or two later. So, save time by making one for now and one for later.