The Spanish Cuisine is a perfect representation of the nation’s colorful and rich culture and heritage. Spanish dishes are great representations of their places of origin. A beautiful blend of different signature dishes from various regions. One of the distinct characteristics of the food prepared by the Spanish is olive oil, which is common in most Spanish dishes. This is probably due to the fact that Spain is one of the biggest producers of olive oil in the world, providing about 44% of the world’s olive oil supply.
Any Spanish gustatory experience is never complete without trying one of the customary tapas, a meat delicacy usually served as a snack or appetizer. Tapas were originally served to cover a glass of sweet sherry from fruit flies. Nowadays a large variety of tapas paired with a bottle of wine is common fair in any local Spanish bar or restaurant. It is no surprise that you will also find an ample supply of them in any local carcineria. Some local bars also offer free tapas with an order of a drink.
Another famous Spanish traditional specialty is the churros. This fried pastry is generally served with a hot mug of coffee or chocolate during breakfast. Much like its American counterpart, pretzels, churros are typically sold freshly made by street peddlers. There are also numerous churrerias found throughout Spain. This popular Spanish food is also well known in Colombia and Venezuela, as well as France and the Philippines.
If you are a big bread eater then you will find yourself in the right place while vacationing in Spain as they serve bread with a number of dishes, including the soup dish gazpacho. Cured meats like Jabugo or Serrano Ham are usually served with delicious breads, too. There are a number of Spanish dishes that uses bread as ingredients such as goguera, a meat pie, and migas de Pastor.
The Iberian Ham
Locally known as Jamon Iberico, the Iberian Ham is one of the famous cured meats produced in Spain. Made from black Iberian pigs, it is, in fact, so succulent that it earned the distinction of being the Best Ham in the World in 2007 and 2010. There are various classifications of hams in Spain, but the Iberian Ham is considered the finest in quality and taste.
The Festive Paella
The famous Spanish dish of paella is commonly associated with the region of Valencia. This colorful dish has a couple of variations including the seafood and mixed paellas, but many deemed the one that originated from Valencia as the original recipe. Made with white rice, chicken and rabbit meat, beans, herbs like rosemary and saffron, lemon, and green vegetables. Some may also include the optional ingredients of pepper, chicken liver, and artichoke. The mixed variation combines several land animals, seafood, beans and vegetables, while the seafood version replaces meats with a generous serving of seafood and removes vegetables and beans.
After cooking paella, a layer of toasted rice normally forms at the bottom of the pan. This is called locally as socarrat and became a well known Spanish delicacy. Socarrat is normally cooked by putting the paella over an open fire waiting for the rice at the bottom to toast in the pan.
Paella is indeed so well loved that it became customary in Valencian communities to cook these during special occasions. One Spaniards, Juan Galbis, a prominent Valencian restaurateur holds the record for making the largest paella in the world back in 2011.
The Spanish Wines
Wine is one of the most famous drinks in Spain. The local wines are generally produced in the southwestern region, in the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is considered the third largest wine producer in the world. Great Spanish meals and dishes are usually paired with a glass or two of their most refreshing wines.
A well-known wine variety is sherry, a fortified wine mostly made from the Palomino grape varieties. It is commonly served in bars and restaurants. There are many different categories of sherry, starting with fino, or the light and delicate sherry, to Palo Cortado that contains up to 22% of alcohol.
Another distinguished wine variety is the Cava, or the Spanish sparkling wine, fermented in the French traditional method of champagne making. Originally from the Catalonia region, Cava are made from Macabeo and Parellada grape varieties.