I have taken this representative Spanish recipe to show students how to make it (in theory and practice); while, at the same time, learning Spanish “in the kitchen”.


You would be surprised about how many things you can learn from a simple recipe, and not just the words. There is an entirely new world in front of your eyes when you read the list of ingredients.Read this article and you’ll see what I mean!


This is just to give you a taste of one of our main dishes, called “la tortilla de papas”.


This dish is always present in our kitchen and on tables everywhere in the Hispanic world. You can find it in bars across Spain, in restaurants, and in every home where Spanish is spoken all around the world. It is simple and exquisite. It isn’t expensive to make and it is delicious, rich, and quick to prepare. But the most important thing is, for today at least, it will be the perfect excuse to study Spanish.


Now, let’s put theory into practice and try it. Go straight to the kitchen and start applying the new vocabulary and you will see a visual palette of bold colors and strong flavors come to life. You will discover the magic of the Spanish food.



La tortilla de papas


Receta para cuatro personas




  • 4 huevos
  • 700 gr de papas
  • 1 cebolla grande
  • Chorizo colorado 70 gramos
  • Sal y pimienta
  • Aceite de oliva




Se pelan las papas y la cebolla. Se cortan las papas y la cebolla en rodajas finas y se colocan con aceite caliente y en una sartén de teflón. Se condimentan con sal y pimienta. Se fríe todo junto, se puede tapar para lograr un poco de humedad y para que las papas se doren y queden blanditas… Mmmhh ¡deliciosas!


Cuando están cocidas se ponen en un plato hondo y se agregan los huevos batidos con sal y las rodajitas de chorizo colorado. Se mezcla todo muy bien y se deja reposar uno o dos minutos.


Se pone un poco de aceite nuevamente en la sartén y se calienta. Se echa la mezcla de papas, cebolla, huevos y chorizo. Se deja cocinar un momento, dos o tres minutos de un lado, luego se da vuelta y se deja cocinar otros dos o tres minutos del otro lado, hasta que quede dorada por ambos lados. Se pasa a un plato o a una fuente para servir.


Generalmente se come caliente y se sirve con ensalada o con carne (como en Argentina). Pero también es buenísima al día siguiente... ¡Glup!



In terms of learning Spanish, there are so many new ways of taking advantage of a recipe. Think of different the ways of studying vocabulary, grammar as well as idiomatic expressions. Let’s see.


One way of studying vocabulary is to write on flashcards all the words you want to remember. Writing is an important part of the learning process, as it will help you understand the words and retain them better.


 Spanish 2.JPG


Another interesting way to learn Spanish is to write flowchart diagrams of the ingredients following the sequence in the recipe:


Spanish 3.JPG

Do not forget to underline the concordance (concordancia) between the words as you read the explanation. Concordancia is the gender and number agreement between all the words in a sentence. This is crucial in Spanish!


  • “La cebolla, rodajas finas, un plato hondo, los huevos batidos, unos minutos”

And for those who prefer to study in a more creative style, you can always try drawing condiments:

Spanish 1.jpg

Now, let’s get serious and start studying grammar. Shall we? Classify verbs in the infinitive form and split them into “regulares” and “irregulares


Pelar (R)

Cortar (R)

Comer (R)

Condimentar (R)

Estar (I)

Dar (I)

Servir (I)

Poner (I)



¿Qué es el se impersonal?


Se pelan, se fríe, se cortan” are all impersonal forms we use when we want to talk about an action without mentioning who is performing it. You can apply it in any context, either formal or informal. For instance:



       Se + verbo en 3ra persona (singular)

Se fríe todo junto


       Se + verbo en 3ra persona (plural)

Se cortan las papas


  • Se pelan las papas, las cebolla y se colocan en la sartén.

(We do not mention the subject).

  • Se fríe todo junto.



And how about prepositions?


Pay attention to prepositions and take notes about them whenever you find examples. Like the ones below:


  • Fíjate en los ejemplos de “para”:
    • “…para lograr un poco de humedad...”
  • Fíjate en los ejemplos de “con”:
    • “...se sirve con ensalada…”
  • Fíjate en los ejemplos de “en”:
    • “...en las casas de mucha gente…”



Have a look at how to use “ser” and “estar” properly!


  • ¿Cómo te parece que es una tortilla?
  • ¿Deliciosa? Y ¿qué mas? : ......................
  • ¿Dónde está? La tortilla está en la cocina.
  • Está en todos los ......................., las ..........................., ..........................

And to finish, here are some idiomatic expressions that will allow you to sound like a native speaker:


  • Se le dió vuelta la tortilla”: This has been changed to the present situation for the subject, mainly negative. 
    • Example: “Desde que cambiaron de jefe, a los empleados se les dió vuelta la tortilla”.
  • No se puede hacer tortilla sin romper los huevos”: There’s always a price to pay if you want to obtain something.
  • Tener la sartén por el mango”: To have the power or authority in a given situation.
    • Example: “El director ejecutivo tiene la sartén por el mango y hay que aceptarlo”.
  • Tener salero”: To be charming.
    • Example: “Me gusta Charito porque tiene salero, es muy simpática”.


Well, that’s all! I think that now the best thing you can do is to rush to the supermarket and buy all you need to make this recipe (if you can find stuff that’s made in Spain, even better).


Go to kitchen and start studying. Make the tortilla and enjoy it as much as my students had. They all appreciated this piece of homework! I hope you will see why…Glup!


Hero image by Zachary Staines (CC0 1.0)