The international day of the croquette: One of Spain’s most celebrated foods
Even though today is considered Blue Monday, the so-called most depressing day of the year, there’s plenty of reason to be happy. This pseudo scientifically fabricated and commercial day coincides with ‘El Día Internacional de la Croqueta‘ this year, a day that honours one of Spain’s most popular tapas dishes.
The crunchy, deep fried snack, called ‘croqueta’ or croquette in English, is a bite size roll with a breadcrumb crust which can have all kinds of fillings – from oxtail to blue cheese.
The 16th of January is dedicated to this dish, but where did the croqueta actually come from?
There are several stories circulating about the food’s origin, but one of the most common explanations is that the croqueta was created in order to avoid food waste. The croquette originates from France, so it is said.
In the 17th century in France there was an abundance of flour and on top of that there were a lot of leftovers in kitchens of rich and important people. The combination of flour and food scraps led to the genesis of the croquette.
In France however, it is typical to make croquettes using mashed potato as a base, whereas in Spain it is common to use a bechamel sauce.
The nowadays popular appetizer gained popularity in Spain towards the end of the 19th century. There are endless possible variations, especially in terms of filling. A small study conducted by the online shop ‘Croquetas Ricas’ in 2019 resulted in a top 10 list of Spain’s favourite croquettes.
At the top of the list you can find the classic ‘croqueta de jamón de ibérico’. This croquette is filled with bechamel sauce and salty bacon. The croqueta de jamón de ibérico is followed by the croqueta filled with boletus (a type of mushroom). In third place you can find the ‘croqueta de bacalao’, one with cod fish filling.
Spanish croquetas have relatives all around the world, so why not dedicate an international day to this dish? There are for example Dutch ‘kroketten’, which are usually bigger in size than Spanish croquetas and are typically filled with beef or veal ragout.
In the Netherlands croquettes are mass-produced and considered fast food. Croquettes are also popular in Belgium: there they eat croquettes that are usually filled with shrimp or cheese. In Sicily, you have something named crocchès: a street food style croquette traditionally made with potato, eggs and parmesan cheese.
What better way to celebrate the international day of the croquette than eating some? Get in the kitchen and impress your friends and family by making them yourself.
On this website, you can find a good beginner-friendly recipe. With a little bit of practice, high quality ingredients and some good frying oil, you can serve the best croquetas.
Alternatively, you can treat yourself and go to a restaurant or croquetería, which is a place dedicated to making and serving croquettes.
Some of Madrid’s best places to go to for this tasty national treasure can be found on this website.
Front Page Credit: Ally j