It’s easy to get in a rut when dining in Spain. However, Spanish cuisine is incredibly varied when you decide to extend beyond the staples. Factor in that most of Spain is bordered by the sea and it increases your chances of finding something you had never heard of. On my last trip there, one such discovery was the tortilla de camarones. When my wife told me, according to her pre trip research, that the place in Sanlúcar in which we were seated was famous for them, I was skeptical. Shrimp in a tortilla? It sounded kind of low on the texture scale. Plus, I’m a tortilla purist and the thought of sticking anything other than the essentials (egg, potato, onion) in a tortilla is just a distraction. Luckily, a couple of tables down, the folks ordered an unidentified plate of something heaping and fried and it piqued my curiosity. I went to the counter at Casa Balbino and ordered a plate of the tortilla de camarones for two and another couple glasses of La Gitana. I waited and was greeted with this:
It’s not a tortilla in the classic sense but an incredibly airy, perfectly seasoned, fried nest of whole baby shrimp. The crunch of the batter mixed with the shell of the shrimp reminded me of softshell crab – without the unfortunate mush that sometimes accompanies the latter. It was incredible. The Manzanilla cut though the grease perfectly and I had no problem devouring the majority of the plate. My wife enjoyed it as well but is not quite as adventurous of an eater as I am especially when it comes to baby shellfish. Still, she said she loved it. (Maybe I just didn’t give her a chance to eat more!)
Spain is a big country and the amount of culinary diversity is immense. Tortilla de camarones is a standout, however. If you ever find yourself in a restaurant where it is served, order it – and don’t forget the manzanilla.