Ahhh, food. As an integral part of the Spanish culture, food is often taken to higher levels of existence through unique restaurants, incorporation into tapas-size portions, and flavorings suited to the Spanish palate. Then, there are contests. Similar to a chili cookoff or a pie competition at the county fair, I witnessed a contest to identify the best Russian Salad in Valencia.
Here, it’s called insaladilla russa, and it is a mayonnaise-based concoction of potatoes, carrots, eggs, more mayonnaise, olive oil, and various fish components. Tuna is most often used. Olives tend to make a great garnish to the sheer white complexion of this salad, and before you get all grossed out, gentle reader, consider some similar dishes from the US: potato salad, pimiento cheese, and deviled eggs (really, deviled anything). Or anything from any Paula Deen cookbook, ever… I know you still have one tucked away in that kitchen cupboard.
This contest was held at a lovely bar, Cafe Museu, which is in the Carmen district. As you can see in the pictures below, this event was well-attended, even though the publicity was mainly word-of-mouth. The judges, including one man from Russia, graded each entry on presentation, flavor, and other components that I cannot begin to fathom. The consumers also had a chance to vote. There was also a Tetris video game contest, and prizes were given out for the winners of the best ensaladillas and the Tetris competition. Several of the people organizing the event were artists, and even the numbers used to label the ensaladillas were entertaining.
Side note: There was one entry that was vegan, and many thanks to the lady that prepared that. It was delicious! Who knows… maybe next year I will submit an entry.
Several hours later, after everyone had enough beer and mayonnaise, the contest was over and prizes were awarded. The prizes were hand-made pottery of Tetris squares, and they were around a Tetris- and Russian-doll themed cake. It was both delicious and entertaining to be part of this group of friends and neighbors who spent part of a Saturday having some serious fun!