In the current political climate with Monarchs abandoning luncheon, frontier queues exceeding 3 hours due to fishing related debates, and with Calentita (Gibraltar’s Food Festival) fast approaching, I thought it was only appropriate that I embraced Gibraltarianism and confirmed my patriotism – even if only in the kitchen!
So what makes a recipe quintessentially Gibraltarian?
Gibraltarian cuisine is the result of 300 years of British rule combined with the coming together of immigrants from a variety of Mediterranean countries. It is a combination of British (from the different regiments stationed on the Rock) Maltese, Genoese, Italian, Menorcan, Moroccan and Spanish cuisines.
This marriage of tastes has resulted in a peculiar cuisine where some dishes are made as in the country of origin, whereas others have been adapted for various reasons such as: lack of produce (due to the many sieges Gibraltar has endured) and family adaptations. As few people could read and write these recipes were passed down, from generation to generation, by word of mouth. These ‘mistakes’ became family traditions. And to this day, these recipes are still passed by word of mouth with each individual or family personalising each dish.
“I remember whilst at university, phoning my Gran and asking her how to make her rice pudding. After all with “un puñado” ( a handful) of this and all measured “a calculo” (by eye) I didn’t have a recipe to follow. I was on the phone to her for approx an hour whilst I stirred the rice pudding mixture on the hob; describing it’s texture to her, until she was confident that I had made it as she would have.”
There are not many purely Gibraltarian dishes, but those that do exist are cooked frequently and abundantly. Dishes such as Rosto, Calentita, Minestra, Torta de Acelgas, Fideos al horno, Rolitos and desserts such as Pan Dulce, Rosquitos, Bollos de Hornazo, hojuelas and pudín de pan.
Wanting to capture the essence of the Gibraltarian kitchen, I have decided to try and recreate some of these recipes. Please note that the following versions are my family’s recipes
“passed from generation to generation, by word of mouth”
Alternative versions are not wrong. Fundamentally, they embrace Gibraltarianism!
1st: Chop a medium onion and add to a saucepan with olive oil. Sweat the onions down. Crush in some garlic.
2nd: Peel and chop some carrots and add them to the saucepan.
3rd: Cut pork loin slices into strips and add to the saucepan.
4th: Once the pork is cooked add a can of tomato purée. Rinse the can with water and add this to the saucepan.
5th: Season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of sugar to the saucepan. Sprinkle with oregano.
6th: Whilst this is cooking in another saucepan boil your pasta (traditionally either macaroni or penne) until aldente.
7th: Once the carrots are soft, drain the pasta and mix everything together.
8th: Serve with grated cheese – traditionally this is “queso de bola” Edam (Dutch).
Enjoy! Que aproveche!