It is known that most of the men who throughout history discovered new applications of things or invented new techniques that contributed significantly to the evolution of human culture, remain ignored, so it is with the inventor of the wheel , with the first who built a contraption that allowed him to navigate, with the discoverer of ceramics or the one who devised an arc capable of shooting an arrow. The same happened during the development of the kitchen, since we do not know who first thought of roasting a piece of meat, who discovered the fermentation that gives rise to alcoholic beverages, who cooked the loaf of bread on the first day or the creator of the omelette, since it is unknown it first occurred to him to curd some eggs into a hot fat.
It can be considered as a remote predecessor of the omelette what the ancient Romans called "ova mellita", whose recipe appears in the "Book of art of cooking" by Celio Apicio with these words "Four eggs are beaten in a hemina" (1/4 liter) of milk, one ounce (30gr) of oil. Apart in a clay pot, heat a little oil to which the previous preparation is added. Before these delicacies are fully cooked, they are arranged in a round dish, sprinkled with honey, sprinkled with pepper and served ”.
This is without a doubt the oldest omelette of which there is memory.
In the old Spanish recipes of kitchen There are many recipes for making tortillas like the one in a manuscript of kitchen Arabic-Andalusian from the thirteenth century translated by Huici Miranda, an unusual omelette which he calls “Isfiriya”: “The amount of eggs you want is cracked and they are thrown into a large pot adding leaven yeast, in proportion to the eggs, plus pepper , coriander, saffron, cumin and cinnamon, whisk everything, put it in the fryer over moderate heat and when it is hot, add the egg mass to make a thin omelette ”.
Ruperto de Nola, in his "Book of kitchen"(1520), only includes a recipe for an omelette which he calls:" Egg cake, which is called salviate. " “Take some sage leaves and mash them hard and take a good quantity of eggs; and beat them and mix them with the sage, and then take a frying pan; and add butter so that after melted there is a finger in the pan or more; and if there is no butter, take common oil that is sweet and very good, the same amount and when the butter or oil boils, add the eggs with the sage; and make out of it an omelette that is well cooked, and this omelet is two fingers fat or more: and whether it is well cooked or fried, put it on a good plate with a lot of sugar on top and bottom; and you want to eat this tortilla hot ".
In the "Book of the art of kitchen"(1599), by Diego Granado, which as is known has great Italian influence, the following omelette recipes appear:" To make eggs in an omelette in the pan with butter from cows "," To make double omelets "," To make tortillas with chopped herbs and other things "," To make an omelette in water "," To cook eggs in an omelette on plates or in silver pots without butter, and without oil ". In the "Art of cooking" (1611), by Francisco Martínez Montiño, a cook who belonged to Felipe III, who is often considered one of the pillars of Spanish cuisine, although this is not the case, as he was a courtly cook who In his book he collects recipes of very different tendencies: Italian, Flemish, French and he only cares very slightly about the true popular Spanish cuisine. These recipes appear: “Tortillas en agua”, “Cartujas Tortillas”, “Folded Tortillas”, “Tortilla white ”,“ An omelette with water and salt ”,“ Omelette with fresh cheese ”.
However, in the "New art of cooking" (1745), by the Franciscan friar, Raymundo Gómez, known by the pseudonym "Juan Altamiras", in which he includes several recipes for preparing eggs, he does not mention any for making an omelette. .
In the curious conventual cookbook "The religious cook", manuscript probably from the late XNUMXth or early XNUMXth century, whose author hides behind the pseudonym "Antonio Salsete" there are some recipes for making omelets: "Fried egg omelettes" , “Stewed egg omelettes”, “White omelette”, “Swiss chard omelette”.
In the wide repertoire of dishes of Spanish cuisine that in the novel "La Lozana andaluza" (1524), attributed to Francisco Delicado, lists Aldonza before his aunt, no type of omelette is mentioned.
After these distant times, over time, many varieties of omelette have appeared, as many as the most imaginative Spanish, French and Italian chefs, among others, have been able to imagine.
In the kitchens of Spain, tortillas are made with the inclusion of an infinity of food products, which usually serve to give the omelette its name, for example, there is the "Ham omelette", "Giblet omelette", "Broad bean omelette "," Asparagus omelette "," Prawn omelette ", etc. As can be seen, in the primitive recipes of these tortillas the potato was not used, which later due to the great diffusion that this tuber acquired in Spanish cuisine, it was gotten up to increase its feeding power.
The first news of potatoes, found in the New World, was in Spain in the year
1516 toThrough Pedro Mártir de Anghiera, Milanese, who was a chronicler of the Catholic Monarchs, but it was Pizarro's men who met them in 1532 when they were exploring Cajamarca in northern Peru.
It is probable that the first potatoes arrived in Spain at the hands of Pedro Cieza de León. They were presented to Carlos I and some specimens were sent to Pope Julius II as a botanical curiosity and it is not the case to relate the vicissitudes that these specimens ran that played an important role in the diffusion of this nightshade in Europe.
There is no doubt that the Spanish were the first to cultivate potatoes in Europe for utilitarian purposes, as can be seen in different documents that accredit it, thus, for example, it is known that in 1575 the Hospital that ran the Brotherhood of the Charity from Seville was going through possible financial difficulties and on the advice of one of the repatriated Indians, the brothers used the potatoes that were grown in some estates on the banks of the Betis to feed the sick, obtaining a good acceptance from them. In view of the success, it was decided to plant these nightshades in the convent gardens. On December 19, 1577, Mother Teresa de Jesús sent a letter from Ávila to the prioress of the Convento del Carmen, Seville, to thank her for some potatoes and some trifles that she had sent him.
These facts and some more that could be cited, demonstrate that at this time there were already potatoes in Andalusia, much earlier than the Irishman JT Dillon claims to have seen in Galicia in 1789 and even to those who in 1736 denounced the parish priest of Santiago de Bravos , in the province of Lugo.
The place and date on which a potato omelette was first cooked are unknown, but it is very possible that it was born between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries in any place today ignored that the same could be in the modest home of an Andalusian peasant, than at a meal of fortune made by traffickers or soldiers at a roadside sale like those who knew the misadventures of the Ingenious Hidalgo.
Perhaps it was eaten for the first time in the refectory of a convent, or it was invented by the cook of a noble house, or it was born in the stay of a Creole lady in the distant Peruvian lands, since such a simple, unpretentious dish that can to be eaten hot or cold, very suitable for pitanza to the muleteers who carry it in the saddlebags hanging from the sides of the car or on the back of the passing mule, next to the brown loaf, a dry piece of sheep cheese and a vinatero vinegar.
But its greatest grace is conferred by the abundance of eggs and being well curdled, fleeing from that slimy consistency that some like, but which makes it detract from its true addicts, since the Spanish omelette must be compact and tight, which it will keep it appetizing for a couple of days.
Some commentators have said that the potato omelette, known universally as "Spanish omelette", was well known in Navarra when the Napoleonic hosts were being fought and José Mª Iribarren affirms that this is proven by an anonymous memorial in which it was spoken of food for the troops in 1817, which was presented to the Cortes in Pamplona.
Other authors confirm that this type of omelette was a common dish in these lands during the first Carlist war (1833-1840) and that on one occasion during a campaign meal, a potato omelette was offered to the Carlist general Zumalacárregui.
The potato omelette appears in various cookbooks of the XNUMXth century as a delicacy of frequent use and "El Practicón", its author, Ángel Muro, so Frenchified in his culinary tastes, dedicates great interest to it and describes its preparation in detail.
As a curiosity, the following recipe of Sephardic origin is included, from Thessaloniki, from which we can set the date of origin and which is written in Ladino, with the title "Omleta kon potato fry Sepharade", its translation is as follows: “Four medium potatoes are peeled and washed. They are cut into quarters and fried in a pan containing hot oil for a couple of minutes. The fried ones are transferred to a second pan. The beaten eggs are poured over the potatoes, covered and left to cook over a sweet fire. The tortilla is turned so that its second side is browned. It is salted and consumed hot ”.