A very Happy New Year from Spain. A Spanish popular proverb is that “Año de Nieves, Año de Bienes” which translates, “Year of Snow, Year of Goods”. Let us hope that popular wisdom gathers truth for 2021.
Popular dishes to keep warm in winter times originated creatively in times of scarcity. Traditional dishes such as Yorkshire pudding or pizza date back to times when meat was a luxury for a few and one had to find original ways of putting together what was available – if anything.
Spanish traditional ‘Migas’ fall into this category of food of scarcity. Today it’s a popular dish and, if you are lucky, a nice ‘tapa’, but let us not forget that the main ingredient is breadcrumbs – hence the literal translation.
The traditional ‘Migas’ was the staple of shepherds travelling long distances with their cattle. A delicious dish to share in community where bread was cut into small pieces by those sharing hard pieces of bread left over from previous days and mixed with various other ingredients such as meats and spices – paprika being a must. This is why ‘Migas’ has many versions depending on the region of Spain you may find yourself.
The basic ingredients are small pieces of stale bread (from previous days), olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and if you eat meat, you can add bits of meat to it. In southern Spain, fish is also added. The process is very simple: fry the pepper, meat, garlic, and add the paprika, and once it is mildly cooked, add the small pieces of bread. It can be served with grapes and fried eggs.
As you can see, the recipe is very open and flexible – the important thing is to use up the small pieces of bread from previous days and add whatever ingredients that could contribute to it.
As we start up a New Year, let us hope that we can share ‘Migas’ in community soon.
With warm wishes for the New Year 2021: keep baking, keep sharing.
Nuria Cabellos González