I learned how to prepare a proper tostada for breakfast in Seville. Depending on your hunger level, you order a half or a whole toast. You ask for some olive oil and tomato, and you receive a pot of olive oil (or a beaker of olive oil in a modern coffee bar in Granada) and freshly grated tomato puree. At our breakfast spot in Granada, the guy behind the counter grated the tomato on demand when you ordered your tostada! Once you get your slice of toasted baguette, you make little slits (or just stab away) so that when you drizzle the olive oil over the bread, the oil soaks into the bread, and not slide and drip right off . Once you’ve completed the olive oil step, you spread the tomato puree, and then sprinkle a bit of sea salt for taste. A cup of cafe con leche and a tostada con aceite de oliva y tomate. The perfect breakfast!
I have now witnessed this ritual of preparing your tostada each morning in various cafes, restaurants, on top of the hills of Alhambra, and even at airports. I love how everyone is patient. No one rushes to slather on some butter on their bread and take big bites. I’ve not seen anyone walk the down the street munching on a tostada either. Everyone takes their time with this whether they are going the olive oil only route or the butter and jam route. I watched a woman this morning at the airport in Granada open four little square containers of butter, take her plastic knife and gently slide it around each corner of the container to take every last bit of the butter to spread over her tostada. She examined carefully the surface of her toast to double check that there was a nice and even coating of butter all over the bread. She then took a sip of her coffee, looked out the window to take in the mountain view and the runway. When she was finally ready, she picked up her toast and began eating.
Another woman at the airport sitting just a table behind the butter lady, was going down the olive oil – tomato puree path. Her whole operation was measured and deliberate. Small diagonal slits made on her toast. Not a drop of oil misplaced. Every last bit of the tomato puree spread. She emptied a packet of salt into the palm of her hand first so that she could pinch just the right amount to sprinkle on her toast.
My breakfast is usually quick. A cup of tea. A bowl of oatmeal. A piece of toast eaten standing up in the kitchen. I don’t know if the young people of Spain learn and know to appreciate their breakfast routines in the morning. I’m sure not everyone does this and there are many who do just grab a muffin or a croissant and run. But I like to imagine that families eat their breakfasts together and children learn to poke holes in their toast by watching their parents. I think it’s lovely…