London’s most authentic Spanish restaurant
Serving Spain’s most authentic dish
Okay, let’s clear up a little confusion. Tortilla is a diminutive form of the word torta, and just means small cake (or tart).
But confusingly, a tortilla can either be a thin flatbread, made from wheat or maize, popular in places like Mexico and Central America, or it can be the more substantial tortilla española often served in Spanish tapas restaurants, which is an omelette made with eggs and potatoes (and, whisper it, sometimes onions).
To add to the confusion, the tortilla española is also sometimes called a tortilla de patatas. And if, on a trip to Spain, you are served a tortilla francesa – well, that’s a French omelette, without potatoes. Got it?
(And, since you ask, Tortilla chips – now overtaking sales of potato chips (crisps) – in America were originally offcuts of tortilla flatbread dough called tostadas and were quietly introduced to California by Mexicans in the early 1900s.)
The most authentic Spanish experience in London
The first written reference to the tortilla española dates from 1817, although there are myths and legends dating the dish all the way back to 1665 when some say it was invented to feed the Carlist army during the siege of Bilbao. It is certainly a nutritious, tasty and filling dish.
The debate over whether to include onions in your tortilla española is fierce, with the concebollistas (with onion group) at loggerheads with the sincebollistas (the without onion group). Whichever recipe one favours, tortilla española is often cut into wedges and served in tapas bars as pincho de tortilla.
The Spanish do like a festival and Dia de la Tortilla (you guessed it, Tortilla Day) is celebrated throughout southern and western Spain. It normally coincides with the Thursday before Lent, which is charmingly known as Jueves Lardero or Fat Thursday.
If you don’t want to wait until Fat Thursday, or travel to Spain, we would love to welcome you to El Pirata – our neighbourhood tapas restaurant in a corner of Mayfair. We have been serving tortilla española to customers for 30 years as we strive to provide the most authentic Spanish experience in London. So do pop in and ask for a tortilla española – you can even tell us whether you want onions in it or not.