A slice of toasted bread with tomato … a sophisticated Spanish breakfast? This might surprise you but this is a very popular breakfast for millions of Spaniards… just plain and simple … bread and tomato. Pan tumaca is a recipe invented in Catalonia but according to the www it was probably brought there by Andalusian emigrants. There is just something about the Spanish, the Italians and the Greeks … they have a unique gift of turning the mundane into the fabulous and the dull into something truly delicious.
You see my very good friend chef Louis now lives in Spain – I was heartbroken when he moved to Castellón de la Plana near Valencia a few years ago – it felt like a part of me has gone with him. This past December we had the chance to meet up and spend a few magical days together. Just catching up again with him and his adventures was the most wonderful gift – to laugh, talk and cook together just like in the old days. Spain is now Lu’s new home and he gave me such insights about the real Spanish traditions and their infective passion for food.
The first breakfast of our holiday was this traditional Spanish breakfast – a slice of toasted bread + grated tomato + the best olive oil + maldon salt. No butter – just that. I was a little taken aback as Louis and I, given our collective South African heritage are kinda used to the big breakfasts… you know greasy fry-ups and perhaps even a mixed grill of sorts from the braai the night before… but after my first bite of this tapas-style-pan-tumaca, my anticipation for a sumptuous breakfast dissipated into complete contentment … I was converted! There was bliss to be found in its simplicity and the rudimentary sophistication of this dish.
However, with everything in life, Lu reminded me that there were a few good rules to follow …
• You can toast the bread if you like, but it is not compulsory
• The tomatoes must be red-ripe + fresh + plump
• Grate the tomatoes [that is what we did] – but the traditional way is to take the tomato and rub it over the one side of the slice of bread
• Use the best olive oil you can find or afford and drizzle over the tomato
• Use Maldon salt to finish the dish
• Some people like to rub garlic before adding the tomato to the bread
• And …Always cook with passion and love – no matter how basic the dish
… And there you have it. Olé!