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View From Your Table

Madrid, Spain

Hello from Madrid! My friend and host E. took me for a long walk around the city this afternoon and evening. We went to the Mercado de San Miguel [1], which is  culinary holy ground, if you ask me. I did not expect to have oysters in Spain, but E. ordered a half dozen of these babies, and a split of Champagne for us to sample, standing at the bar. They were terrific, some of the best I’ve ever had.

This is not actually a VFYT, but gaze upon this glorious porkness in the mercado, and be of good cheer, for the Lord has not forgotten us:

I also ate breaded and flash-fried baby octopus at the mercado, which was exquisite.

Here was the view from our table on the Plaza Mayor. We were drinking sidra (cider):

Madrid, Spain

When I arrived at the home of E. and his family, I took a nap, and then woke up for ice-cold beer and jamón iberico:

Madrid, Spain

Stupidly, I forgot to do a VFYT for the luscious lunch of sea bream, roasted potatoes, and grilled peppers that E. made for us. We drank a rich, floral white wine from Galicia, made with the Albariño grape. It was one of the most memorable wines I’ve tasted in ages.

Tonight, after tapas at the mercado, E. and his wife took me to a Basque restaurant, Casa Julian de Tolosa [2], where the menu was simple, but the food was extraordinary. I didn’t want to be obnoxious and take out the camera in the restaurant, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. We had a kind of sauteed wild mushroom in olive oil, with raw egg, that was the hobbitiest thing I’ve yet tasted. With the steak, they served a kind of smoked, sweet red pepper preserved in olive oil. Extraordinary depths of flavor. There was more, but I am very, very sleepy, and full of delicious things, so goodnight. I promise I’ll eat nothing else this week in Spain but lettuce and tap water.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "View From Your Table"

#1 Comment By Victoria Howell Fustér On January 12, 2019 @ 8:29 pm

Rod—You’re off to a very good start! Madrid is now one of the great culinary capitals of Europe. I live between Southern California and Majorca and am keenly interested in your impressions of the religious and political scene in Spain. I’m also VERY glad that you’ve been reading Stanley Payne and I’m sure your hosts will give you a much more balanced idea of what’s going on in the country right now than you could gleen from our mainstream media. Please banish all thoughts of living on lettuce and water for the rest of your visit!

#2 Comment By Deacon Nicholas On January 12, 2019 @ 9:12 pm

Don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping and that are pointless anyway. Enjoy!

#3 Comment By Paco On January 13, 2019 @ 12:10 am

Jamon iberico is awesome! Make sure to try some paella (from different regions), some tortilla espanola (not like an American tortilla, rather a potato omelette), morcilla (blood sausage, popular in northern Spain), and some callos de Madrid (tripe)!

#4 Comment By JonF On January 13, 2019 @ 7:16 am

Wishing you an enjoyable and productive visit, Rod. I went to Spain (Madrid and Toledo) on a school trip as a teenager. Loved it and always wanted to go. I will be doing so vicariously through these postings.

#5 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On January 13, 2019 @ 12:33 pm

Bravo Rod!
Glad you made there safely. I bet you’ll love the place!

#6 Comment By charles cosimano On January 13, 2019 @ 3:38 pm

Now there is a famine in the land and Rod caused it. Nothing edible is safe in his presence.

#7 Comment By Alex On January 13, 2019 @ 5:56 pm

E. and his wife took me to a Basque restaurant, Casa Julian de Tolosa, where the menu was simple, but the food was extraordinary.

When I was in Madrid, we went to a Basque restaurant where one of the appetizers was a single tomato, sliced in half with olive oil and coarse salt. Very simple, but amazingly tasty because the tomato was in-season and very fresh and the olive oil was very fine olive oil indeed.

While in Spain, you must try some good Spanish anchovies on toast, even if you think you don’t like anchovies. It’s one of their finest products (second only to Manchego sheep’s milk cheese).

#8 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 13, 2019 @ 7:36 pm

And with all this good food, they had to fight a civil war?

#9 Comment By A skeptic On January 14, 2019 @ 4:12 am

Rod, thank you. I am a reader who doesn’t usually agree with you politically but more than some. But I appreciate how you try to show how politics is a small sliver of life, even if a critical one these days. But I love how you try to shine a light on truth and beauty when you can. And your food posts are a perfect example. Some things are more important than politics and a vfyt is a great reminder of that.

#10 Comment By Liam On January 14, 2019 @ 2:26 pm


One major difference between Spain and the US and other countries you’ve visited recently: Spain has a relative dearth of navigable rivers. If you’re wondering why the landscape may feel rather different, that’s one reason why. It’s also why the Spanish were not entirely befuddled by Mexico and the interior of what is now the American West.

#11 Comment By Theresa On January 15, 2019 @ 1:31 am

I hope you had a chance to learn about the Catholic historical events that occured in Plaza Mayor.