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Thursday, 29 April 2010


There are many theories circulating about the creator of the Spanish omelette (tortilla de patatas), the most widespread tells about a General of the Carlist army (in the 18th century), Tomás de Zumalacárregui, who one night stopped in the home of a housewife living in the mountains in Navarra, asking her for food for his starving soldiers in the war and she quickly started to make something with the only food she had to offer: potatoes, eggs and onions. The dinner was so pleased by the General that he didn’t find better support with which to feed his troops. The "tortilla de patatas" became so very famous during the first Carlist War and it is credited with the strength of the soldiers who staged the siege of Bilbao.

Tomás de Zumalacárregui

All the glory fell on Navarre until an investigation by Javier Lopez Linage, a scientific head of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences of the CSIC, shook the foundations of the history of the tortilla. According to this researcher, specializing in studies on the arrival of the potato to Spain, the omelette, or at least the"conceptual origin, was born in Villanueva de la Serena (Badajoz).

But leaving apart who was the inventor of the tortilla de patatas, the truth is that this tortilla is more than two centuries succeeding and has crossed borders to acquire universal condition. Spanish omelette is eaten in Tokyo, London, New York or Buenos Aires, but nowhere as in Spain, and in each town in Spain you can find many variations of it, mixing it with more ingredients as green peppers, chorizo, mushrooms, ham…….. And it is also very popular all over Spain served in bars as a tapa (I’ll write about Spanish “tapas” another day) and it is essential at Spanish picnics.

Though here I am going to leave you the most traditional recipe, that is, my dad’s style…… because of course here in Spain each of us always say that the best tortilla is what makes our mother (my father, in my case!).


- 6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.
- 6 eggs
- ½ litre olive oil
- 1 onion medium-sized, chopped
- Salt


Firstly, peel and cut the potatoes, then heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently and slowly fry the potatoes until almost soft, stirring from time to time so that they don’t burn on the botton of the pan. Add the onion and continue frying, afterwards drain the potatoes with the onion in a colander to get rid of the excess oil.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt. Add the potatoes with the onion and mix it well.

Heat a little oil (three big spoonful more or less) in a frying pan on a moderate heat. Pour the potatoes and eggs and shake from time to time so that the omelette doesn’t stick to the bottom, once the bottom of the omelette has set turn the heat down low and cover the pan.

After about 10 minutes turn the omelette by placing a flat plate on the frying pan and very quickly turning over. Gently slide the omelette back into the frying pan and continue frying, shaking again the pan from time to time until it has set all the way through. (You can see all, step by step, in the video down linked)

And the Spanish omelette is made and ready
 to be eaten. ¡Buen provecho! Bon appetit!

Sorry I must leave! It is dinner time and I am afraid I am really very hungry!


  1. oh hubby would love this!! is that a dollop of sour cream they top it with at the end?

  2. Mm, looks good! Maybe I try this.
    Hope you have a blessed weekend:-)

  3. Right up my alley. Thank you for the recipe, I must try it soon. Looks and sounds delish :)

  4. Jill I hope your hubby can enjoy the Spanish omelette! and related to your question about the sour cream on the top, no it is not that, though I tell you this omelette is also nice if you put on it tomato or mayonnaise. Nice week ahead and hugs!

  5. Spiderdama I promise you this omelette is really yummy, if you try it sometime you will know it! Have a nice week ahead and hugs!

  6. You are welcome Ivanhoe about the recipe and I am very glad it is up your alley! Nice week ahead and hugs from Madrid!

  7. Funcionario's blog3 May 2010 at 22:11

    Hola, Nieves. Vaya, da gusto que la gastronomía patria (cada día se descubre algo, como que el tal Zumalacárregui la inventase) tenga acogida a nivel internacional. Tal vez si iniciásemos un desapalancamiento de nuestra deuda en base a un canje por generosas raciones de tortilla íbamos a salir de la burbuja inmobiliaria en cero coma... XD

    A modo de anécdota, decir que el lugar más raro donde he comido tortilla de patatas ha sido Udaipur (India). Conocí a una española por pura casualidad que lleva allí 14 años y me invitó a su casa a comer lo que quisiese. Y, claro, como allí jamón no hay pues elegí la tortilla. Y la cocinó su marido, que es indio... Pero no veas cómo le quedó... De chuparse los dedos.

    Poco después acabé en Jodhpur, donde había un chiringuito llamado algo así como Omelette Shop. Hacían tortilla, y hasta tenían la "Spanish omelette", que eran dos huevos revueltos con patatas pochadas. Vamos, una afrenta para el que no sepa lo que es.

    Venga, nos seguimos leyendo. Un saludo.

    PD. Al menos de tu ex te ha quedado la lengua de Shakespeare, cosa que es muy buena si te gusta moverte por el mundo.

  8. Por cierto, compañero del gremio, me ha encantado tu anécdota sobre aquella estupenda tortilla de patatas que te comiste en Indaipur (India) hecha por un indio nativo. Y me alegro también de que gracias a mi post conocieras a su inventor. Y ya sabes....¡los funcionarios unidos jamás serán vencidos! Un abrazo,

  9. En primer lugar, camarada, decirte que "Viva la revolusióoonnnn!!!!" En segundo, que es "Udaipur" (no Indaipur)... En esta ciudad se rodó parte de la película Octopussy y, si un día vas por allí, verás que están tan orgullosos que en muchos restaurantes la ponen todas las noches (a mí es que me llamó la atención y se lo pregunté a la paisana). Un saludo re-ro-lu-sionaaario!!!!


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