How to make a Spanish tortilla
All self-respecting Spaniards know how to make a tortilla de patatas, and they are all connoisseurs of the dish. A good tortilla will be met with a nod of knowing appreciation. The life expectancy of a Spanish tortilla should be very short indeed.
You'll need a good quality non-stick pan, but, crucially, it mustn't be so heavy that you can't perform acrobatics with it later on.
Everyone has their own way of making a Spanish tortilla, naturally enough, but all you need to know is the purist's form, with precisely two ingredients: eggs and potatoes.
Get some nice white, waxy potatoes. Peel them, and slice them into the thinnest possible strips.
Add enough vegetable oil to the pan to almost submerge the potatoes, and put it on a high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, slide in your potato shards and fry them on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until they are golden and soft. Don't let them get too brown and burnt. You're making tortilla, not fried potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooking, whisk up your eggs. My Spanish flatmates in Valencia reckoned on a simple formula of one egg per person plus one for luck. Depending on how big you want your tortilla, you may want to chuck in one or two on top of that.
Whisk your eggs in a bowl with a fork, like you're having a w*nk, as my flatmate's one-time, yokel boyfriend described it to me. Some cooking tips really stick in your head, don't they?
Add a little salt to the eggs. Once your potatoes are nice and soft, lift them out of the oil and drop them in the egg mixture.
Drain away most of your oil, leaving just tiny specks in the pan. Put it on a high heat and then pour in your potato-and-egg mixture.
Your tortilla should start to form in the pan. With a wooden spoon, scratch at the bits that don't have any potato in them; this will actually help shape the tortilla, even if it seems like you're tearing holes in the thing.
After a minute or so your tortilla should have a pretty solid skin underneath. Now comes the fun part. Turn the heat down and cover the pan with a plate (a plastic plate will be lighter and may help this next bit).
Hold the pan over the sink, in case it all goes horribly wrong. Place one hand on the middle of the plate. Flip the pan and the plate over. Remove the pan. Your half-fried tortilla should be sitting on the plate (ideally, someone else should shout "olé!" and clap at this point. If no one's around, you can shout it yourself).
Put the pan back on a high heat. Slide your tortilla back into the pan and fry the underside. Press down on it with a wooden spoon to get a nice golden colour.
After a minute or so your tortilla will be done. If you're feeling cocky, you can flip it again and serve it with first side you fried pointing up. If you don't want to tempt fate, just slide the tortilla out of the pan onto a fresh plate.
Serve with mayonnaise and a bit of guilt-assuaging salad.
Of course, like any omelette, the recipe can of be adapted to include garlic, onion, peppers, cheese, chorizo - anything you like. I once had an excellent potato and apple tortilla at a vegetarian restaurant in Valencia. But for some Spaniards, the only way to make a tortilla is the purist's way.