By Kenya Barrett
Spain is a country that's admired around the world due to its diverse culture, historical contributions to art and architecture, and delicious cuisine. It would be hard to enjoy a trip to this beautiful country without indulging in some of their staple dishes, so here are a few foods you must try during your next trip to Spain!
One of Spain’s most popular meals has to be paella. This rice–based dish can be found all around the country and has many different variations. Depending on the region, visitors can find chefs who prepare their paella dishes with seafood, which is typical. However, others may cook their dish with unique ingredients such as chicken, pork, duck, chorizo, and rabbit. Common seafood meats that paella is created with include mussels, clams, calamari, and shrimp.
Jamon is Spain’s version of cured ham and is a delicacy to most who live in the country. Jamon Iberico specifically derives from the black pigs who live in the Iberian peninsula and happens to be the most expensive of its kind. The ham is usually cut into slices and served with bread, but is best enjoyed alone. When indulging in this prized cut of ham, connoisseurs note that the slice should just melt in your mouth – a true culinary experience for those who participate.
This interestingly named dish is Spain’s take on the old-fashioned tomato soup. The meal originates from Andalusia and is actually a cold dish – contrary to how others around the world may enjoy their soup. Due to the harsh summers that the region experiences, it is common for locals to drink their Gazpacho cold, to help cool themselves down. The ingredients are quite simple for this delicious dish: tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and peppers!
Tortilla Espanola is just a special name for a Spanish omelet. While some say that this dish should only contain eggs and potatoes, others argue that the real flavor comes from the peppers, onions, and other Spanish-based spices. What makes this dish unique is the way that it's cooked – combining the ingredients and flipping the “tortilla” over at the perfect time will ensure that the finished product has a custard-like texture and look. Yum!
This tapa (small dish) is made with a vegetable that is similar to a spring onion or a leek, and is often roasted on a grill. This dish is considered a traditional food of Catalan, and is generally eaten during the winter season. Calcots are made by charring the outer layer of the vegetable on the grill, and then peeling said outer layer away to eat the tender bulbs. It is usually served with salvitxada, a delicious almond-based sauce with tomatoes, garlic, peppers, oil, and vinegar.
Another popular tapa is patatas bravas. As the name suggests, this dish is simply made by cubing and frying potatoes. What makes the patatas bravas more than just fried potatoes is the spicy yet delicious dipping sauce that accompanies it. Some prepare their dip by using a spicy ketchup and garlic mayonnaise base and adding an array of Spanish-based spices including crushed pimento seeds.
This popular fried snack is actually native to Spain, but has become popularized all around the world – especially in North America. This delicious dessert can be enjoyed at any time of the day and is super easy to make. Pastry dough is usually cut into long, sausage-like shapes and are fried for a short period of time. After they're done cooking, the churros are sprinkled with sugar and sold to passersby on the road. Locals typically enjoy this hot, sugary pastry with a side of melted chocolate for dipping!
Are your tastebuds ready to experience the many flavors of Spain?