Paella and snails

Our feast in Tomatito bar, Tarifa

During my stay on a surfing spot near the Valdavaqueros beach, one day I take my longboard for a ride to Tarifa. I visit my friend Polly, who is working for the summer in a bar called Tomatito. This is a very unusual place taking into account not only the interior design, but most of all people who work here and people who visit this place. Surfers and party souls, which means zanies, kooks and all sort of crazy individualists embalmed with Mediterranean winds poniente and levante. Under the aegis of paella and snails in tomato sauce you are going to have a ball.

Snails are most often served as an appetizer for the main course. Courtesy of el Nono Vive, the chef, there are a few snails cooked in garlic butter and olive oil served to our table. We use a toothpick to pick the meat from the inside of shell. Thereupon on the table turns up a whole platter of snails with tomato sauce.

Snails in tomato sauce

Pick a black, slimy pieces of meat from the shell with a toothpick adds splendor for the valuable moments spent at the table. The snails taste like a fleshy variety of mussels. A protein-rich appetizer is being quickly polished off. It’s time for the main course.

Paella, often considered to be a culinary showcase of Spain, was originally a regional dish of Valencia. There are many varieties of paella, but by far the most interesting is paella mixta. As the name suggests, the one for which a large variety of ingredients is may used. Typical paella is based on rice, more often than not dyed with turmeric. The typical ingredients include various seafood, like mussels, squid, shrimp or snails and poultry, beef and chorizo sausage. Also a range of vegetables, mostly hot pepper and onion.

Paella in the Tomatito bar

According to tradition, paella has be prepared by a man and cooked an open fire. The smoke from the pine wood gives the dish its distinctive smell. Paella is never meant to be prepared for one person. This is the main course to be shared. We all eat straight from paeller, a large platter on which paella  is served. The more hands to eat the better.

The Tomatito bar in fact is a place where you have no idea when the dinner is finished and the all night long party has already started. My intended one or two hour visit to Tarifa has somehow changed into a round-the-clock idyllic party.