By Meneka Thiru
The hardest thing to get used while studying abroad in Spain was the timing of Spanish meals. Spaniards eat a light breakfast, their largest meal of the day at 2 in the afternoon and a light dinner around 9 at night.
Inevitably, I would find myself with my stomach grumbling around 6, and my lovely host mom, Josefina (who happened to be a master cook), would knowingly invite me to a “trozo de bizcocho” and a glass of milk. Bizcocho, in Spain, refers to a traditional cake that is generally served with coffee or tea.
While I felt a little guilty eating cake every afternoon, I figured that since Spaniards barely batted an eye at the idea, I should follow suit. Besides, my daily serving of bizcocho was an opportunity for me to spend time with my host mom. Chatting with Josefina about everything from relationships to what it was like to live in Alaska was how I learned much of my Spanish. I used to look for any excuse to find myself in that kitchen with Josefina and her cooking.
To this day, afternoon chats are still by favorite part of Spanish culture. Spaniards love to talk, and having lunch or coffee can turn into a rather long affair. Slowing down is their specialty, and a trait that many of us could stand to adopt in our fast paced lives. This bizcocho is a wonderful excuse to do just that with that someone you’ve been meaning to call. Invite them to some cake and follow the example of Spaniards: slow down, ignore the clock, talk, listen, and eat.
You can make your bizcocho a la lemon or orange, as you please. I personally love the orange, but both are delicious.
Recipe: Bizcocho de Yogur
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest of one lemon OR zest and juice of one orange
1 cup sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Measure all the ingredients into a bowl, and stir until just combined. Butter and flower a cake pan to prevent sticking (you can use a 8×8 square dish, a 9 inch round pan, or a bundt pan if you’re feeling fancy). Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden in color and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
Meneka Thiru was born and raised in Anchorage, and wherever she travels, Alaska is always home. Being of Sri Lankan heritage and growing up in the Indian community, she finds comfort in eating curry with her hands and has seen how food can be a piece of home that brings families together. Getting a degree in International Studies and Spanish Language and studying abroad has led to a bad case of wanderlust and a penchant for recklessly adventurous eating. Meneka is currently living in Spain.