Monday, January 7, 2013

Tortilla de Patatas

this post is dedicated to my friend Germán, an excellent tortilla cook

Tortilla means Tortilla de Patatas meaning it’s made with potatoes, following a specific procedure.

Omlette has nothing to do with potatoes although being the French popular way to eat eggs and also being widely well known, I thought of mentioning the difference.
Some people think the difference between tortilla and omlette hides in the shape, but it’s in the ingredients and the procedure that they very much differ from one another.

Tortilla is the most emblematic and widely eaten daily of all four of the most popular Spanish famous foods: paella, pulpo a feira, gazpacho and tortilla de patatas

The origin of the tortilla might not be Spanish but probably Belgian or from The Netherlands but that has to do with who got potatoes first arriving from the Americas. The fact is that it became Spanish food. It’s like saying that pasta started in China, maybe, but pasta is Italian.

What about the name “patatas”. The first type that arrived from the Americas were the “batatas” which are the sweet potatoes, then arrived the “papas” which are what we know as potatoes, and then the name suffered a joint venture batatas-papas: turning into patatas! A mixture of both names.

There are many types of Tortillas, as many as people who make it.
What really matters is to have eggs, potatoes and olive oil. Then we can discern on the use of organic or just free-range eggs, or which type of potatoes because they should absorb the oil but have a good consistency (Kennebec, Roosevelt, Buffet,  Charlotte, Monalisa) and obviously that the olive oil should be extravirgin. And aslo if onions or not and what else to put in it but the truth is that just using those three ingredients makes an original tortilla. At this point it’s up to your savoir faire to make a good one, that’s another thing!

There is a tiny place in the old town in San Sebastián called Néstor (calle Pescaderia 11). He makes one tortilla for lunch coming out at 1:00 p.m. and another one for dinner at 8:00 p.m. That’s it! You have to go one hour before and write down your name to book your piece. And then, as you will see in the pictures, its’ a piece not a slice. Anyway it’s excellent.

The classical recipe says that you should use 5 eggs for 750 g of raw potatoes. Then you should watch someone make it like I did with Germán and then you can develop your own variation on the theme.

There are many books on Tortillas. I am enclosing a picture of a book called El gran libro de la tortillla de patatas which in its prologue dedicates 36 pages to the complete study of the subject and then publishes the recipes of 13 famous Spanish chefs that sum up 31 Michelin stars.


Néstor's Tortilla in San Sebastián
Nelson has this strange way of cutting the tortilla, not in slices but in pieces
A serving of Tortilla is always accompanied by a piece of bread
It's a piece of Nestor's Tortilla, although it looks like Apple tart!


  1. From the photos and the story, this looks exactly like my dream tortilla: cooked to its perfect point, moist in the middle like (as you said) an apple tart!
    Thanks for the lovely dedication!

  2. my pleasure to have been your pupil!