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How to cook Spanish tortilla: Salmonella outbreak sparks national debate

Bradypus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
There has been a lot of discussion about the best styles of tortilla in another thread recently. I ate a lot of it - good, bad and just ok - in the last month myself! I just saw this article on the BBC website. I hadn't known that government guidelines for making it were quite so specific.

 
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My first effort (in 1992) at making a 'simple' tortilla ended in tears of desperation, till I was saved by a woman from Castilla y Leon, the epitome of silent repair...
I prefer a slightly moist tortilla, but the trick is, as with most things, patience.
 
There has been a lot of discussion about the best styles of tortilla in another thread recently. I ate a lot of it - good, bad and just ok - in the last month myself! I just saw this article on the BBC website. I hadn't known that government guidelines for making it were quite so specific.

Good to see the debate still raging between the cebollistas and anti-cebollistas. (On the matter of onions)
 
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There has been a lot of discussion about the best styles of tortilla in another thread recently. I ate a lot of it - good, bad and just ok - in the last month myself! I just saw this article on the BBC website. I hadn't known that government guidelines for making
I walked the Frances in 2016.

I walked the Frances in . I've made Tortilla almost weekly since. The 3 keys, the right pan, lots of good olive oil and more sea salt than you think.
 
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My first effort (in 1992) at making a 'simple' tortilla ended in tears of desperation
This was my exact experience a few years ago. It was so tragic I haven't attempted again.
 
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To begin with you need very fresh eggs from Spain, not the frozen since the last decade type that are sold as fresh eggs in the grocery stores in the US.
 
LOL I saw that article this morning before coming here. I’m firmly on the soft/moist no onions team. I had the driest tortilla in Orisson, my gods it was horrible. I’m glad I never ran into the runny variety.
 
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Betanzos, on the Camino Inglés, is famous for making tortillas just how I like them. With onions and wet, the only way to make them!
You, 👏 being there in Santiago 👏, must surely already have met Cristina, owner, chief cook, and all around spinner of stories, at Las Betanceiras. Close to La Tita on Rua Nova. Made to order just like you like ’em or fully cooked for those squeamish like me. 😋
 

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Why is this news that the BBC must pay attention to??
A local restaurant in Madrid has an outbreak of salmonella and people in the neighbourhood need to find another place to have breakfast. Big deal for them, although perhaps the people in Ukraine have it worse, As for news, it is mostly local.

Salmonella is found on the shell of the egg that has been in contact with the chicken affected by salmonella, not on the inside, unless the liquid egg touches the shell or a contaminated piece of shell drops into the egg. Another possibility is that a worker of the restaurant who touched the tortillas was ill with salmonellosis.

In the Spanish press, a number of 101 people affected is mentioned. The restaurant probably did not break its own eggs, but used industrial egg-products. So authorities will be tracing the supplier too.

Salmonella is found in a variety of foods, for instance pork, chicken and vegetables. If you skip the tortilla in favour of the salad, it may still get you. Anywhere on the globe.
 
There has been a lot of discussion about the best styles of tortilla in another thread recently. I ate a lot of it - good, bad and just ok - in the last month myself! I just saw this article on the BBC website. I hadn't known that government guidelines for making it were quite so specific.

Very interesting and not surprising about salmonella. I would never eat a runny egg tortilla. Yucky and clearly a potential health hazard. For me, a solid (as a brick!) tortilla de patatas cooked with onion is the classic version. The runny version must be something “new.” In over 60 years spending time in Spain off and on, I don’t recall encountering runny tortillas.
 
The Spanish version of a similar report in La Voz de Galicia last week also mentioned huevos fritos which also has a runny yolk.
 
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Pasteurised eggs sound like some kind of outrageous culinary Heresy.

I haven't made the family recipe tortilla de patatas in ages, but it's a Catalan version originally (from Valldoreix on the Camí Catalàn), with onions, runny in the middle (but not too much !!) (besides, it dries up if you don't eat it instantly), and a deal of ground black pepper. More to the recipe than that of course ...
 
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I am not sure if I am repeating an "urban myth" but I believe I have read that the USDA buys excess eggs production for from the large producers to support the market for eggs in the US and then puts them in large freezer facilities and sells in bulk to grocery chains during shortages. Not sure?
 
I am not sure if I am repeating an "urban myth" but I believe I have read that the USDA buys excess eggs production for from the large producers to support the market for eggs in the US and then puts them in large freezer facilities and sells in bulk to grocery chains during shortages. Not sure?
More likely they make egg powder if they do. Yes, the US govt does buy surplus food items as a form of price supports like milk, peanut butter, cheese, even honey at times. They used to distribute these commodities to low income individuals and families in communities once a month or so. I haven't seen that in several years though. Milk was turned into milk powder to preserve it so I would think eggs might be treated the same way.
 
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If you want good eggs, buy hens. Let them range in the bits of the garden that don't have very young plants. Feed them your leftovers, as well as a good mix of cereals. I cook rice for mine as a special treat. They like it with tomato sauce.
 
People freeze Eggs! :oops: :oops:
Is that even possible?
Yes it is possible. I buy eggs from a local farm cooperative and often freeze some. Just scramble an egg in a bowl and pour into an ice cube tray. I use a tray with just six large wells that can hold up to two eggs each. When they are frozen I pop them out and put them in a vacuum bag. You can add salt or sugar depending upon the final use of the egg. They work just fine in baking as well as scrambled eggs and tortilla etc.
 
Just like some other iconic experiences, like falling in love and other first-time altered states of consciousness, nothing will top my first tortilla encounter. I got there on my first day ever of walking, a 3-day "stroll" on the Camino Portugués. Everything was new for me. I was in the unknown. I had no idea if my old knees healing from fractured fibula were going to hold up for the ride, and it was a sensible time to stop for lunch, between Pontevedra and Caldas de Reis. It helped that I was starving. The place is called "Furancho A Seca (Viño e Tapas)." I made a point to share my gratitude with a man working there. I asked him about it and he told me what was in it: batates, uevos, salam [some dried pork], cebolla, ajo. It tasted like there was cheese, because it was so creamy, but apparently that's not a staple ingredient in Tortilla Española! Thank you all for bringing me back.
 
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In my near five decades experience traveling globally, the only time I have ever gotten ill from eating an egg dish was once while visiting Brussels, perhaps 25 years ago.

The hotel chef prepared breakfast omelets using room temperature eggs he grabbed from a nearby bowl full of eggs. The conclusion at that time was that one or more eggs were cracked - allowing bacterial contamination into the inner eggs, and thence the cooked recipe. The next 48 hours were a blur of bathroom related activity. God bless Aquarius sports rehydration beverages.

I understand it is the practice in much of the world to store fresh eggs at room temperature until they are cracked open to mix into recipes. In their natural state, eggs remain sterile inside, for a short lifespan. I believe this is the case in Spain.

If they are rinsed off to remove farm detritus and handled with clean/washed hands and utensils, there is rarely a problem. But, use a cracked egg, or one that has been sitting at room temperature or higher for too long, and my old friend "Sal Minella" comes to pay a very unwelcome visit.

I suggest that is what most likely happened in the OP's case. They ate a tortilla prepared with one or more "spoiled" eggs. The odds of this happening are very small. But, as we can read in this thread, it DOES happen.

In those places where refrigerating eggs is the norm, one presupposed the eggs were rinsed with a cleaning solution to remove detritus and bacteria from the outside of the egg. They are then packed in cartons and refrigerated in retail establishments. This just lengthens the shelf life a little.

Commercial bakers generally use bulk liquid eggs (whole eggs or whites only) in their recipes. These products are produced in plants that have strict health and hygiene standards. I believe it is indeed rare for a case of bacterial illness to be traced back to these supply sources.

It is the one-off, small baker, that has the increased duty to ensure they do not use questionable egg products. With costs up all over, and especially in the egg industry, this imposes even higher burdens and costs.

We should all be understanding and patient with those who feed us in Spain and on Camino. especially this wonderful and nutritious egg dish. I love it, and look forward to it each day, and that is not going to change.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
If you want good eggs, buy hens. Let them range in the bits of the garden that don't have very young plants. Feed them your leftovers, as well as a good mix of cereals. I cook rice for mine as a special treat. They like it with tomato sauce.
The noble art of chicken husbandry. Long may it last! 🙂
 
José Andrés has instructions on his cooking of the egg tortilla on his Netflix? spain show
 
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To begin with you need very fresh eggs from Spain, not the frozen since the last decade type that are sold as fresh eggs in the grocery stores in the US.
Frozen eggs!

I have in my entire life only seen One bad egg! including barn door sale eggs...
- What you need to do is carefully cracking the eggs, throw egg shells into the open dustbin and then wash your hands! The most likely bacteria is in the shells but not within the sack of the lining...
Kitchen routines !!
 
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