The Science of the Spanish Tortilla

The Science of the Spanish Tortilla

Ah the classic Tortilla Española or potato omelette. That yummy concoction of eggs and potato blended perfectly into a soothing comfort food, enjoyed in tapas bars all over Spain. But how much do you know about the beloved tortilla?

Behind every bite of this perfect fluffy, yellow food is some pretty advanced culinary science and an often heated debate about its ingredients and texture.

The History of the Spanish Omelette

The tortilla was originally designed as a food for the poor, to pad out the more expensive eggs with potatoes. (We can thank our forefathers for bringing the potato to Spain in the 1570s. ) Today, this delectable feast comes in several sizes but the largest ever made was in Vitoria, by Senen Gonzalez in 2014 and measured an impressive five metres across.

Senen Gonzalez
Credit Docu Grupo

The potato omelette is a Spanish staple and you’ll find “pinchos” or slices of tortilla in many of Spain’s local bars, which are generally “ as cheap as chips” so they won’t break the bank. But that is not always the case. The  most expensive tortilla we know about is sold in Norma’s restaurant in New York, inside the Parker hotel. @normasnyc For just a cool 2000 dollars you can have your very own special tortilla. Perhaps it contains real gold?

So you see, there’s a lot of history and love behind the humble potato omelette.

The Science Behind the Mush

You can’t just whip some eggs in a bowl, add some potatoes and hope for the best. Ask  Ciri Gonzalez from Palencia (The winner of Spain’s annual potato omelette championships, 2021 and for the past four years in a row!) There is a real science to it, from the temperature and quality of the oil used, the egg yolk to white ratio to the type of potatoes. (Maris Piper come highly recommended.) Let’s not forget the pan, you can in fact, buy a special omelette pan if you really want to go all out.

The Big Omelette Divide

Tortillas, my friends, are even more controversial than Brexit!… Should the tortilla contain onion or not?  Our vote is for yes, but tell us what you think.  And that leads us on nicely to an even more heated debate. Runny or solid?  The texture of one’s Spanish omelette divides opinion.

Photocredit Taberna Gaspar, Mabrella
Photocredit Taberna Gaspar, Mabrella

So go on admit it, how do you eat yours?



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