Food, glorious Spanish food …
Who doesn’t love food? Especially Spanish food!
Admittedly, it can be a real pain when you have to cook every day … especially when children are involved.
However, a lot of pleasure can be gained from cooking, especially when the children clear their plates and ask for more.
Spanish eating habits are very different from the British, yet we have welcomed the change in eating style and as a result, our children have benefited.
We have scoured the WWW for information and facts about Spanish food and would like to share some of our findings with you:
Just like Spain, Spanish cuisine is very rich and diverse. Particularly noteworthy is the outstanding quality and freshness of the variety of products and ingredients. Both the long-standing tradition as well as the excellent ingredients variation have led to Spain being known worldwide in the culinary field.
Spain’s culinary traditions rely on an abundance of locally grown vegetables and fruits as well as meats and poultry. Jamón serrano , a cured ham, and chorizo , a seasoned sausage, are popular. Seafood and fish are popular in coastal areas. Other popular foods are cheeses, eggs, beans, rice, nuts (especially almonds), and bread (a crusty white bread, baked fresh daily, is common). Olive oil and garlic are common ingredients. Spain is also known for its wines (which I am always keen to sample!).
Probably the best-known Spanish dish is paella. Rice, a main ingredient, is grown in Valencia’s tidal flatlands. Though there are numerous variations, paella is usually made of a variety of shellfish (such as shrimp, clams, crab, and lobster), chorizo (sausage), vegetables (tomatoes, peas, and asparagus), chicken and/or rabbit, and long-grained rice. Broth, onion, garlic, wine, pimiento (sweet red pepper), and saffron add flavour.
This video is a great visual representation of wonderful Spanish food.
Every region has its own distinct cuisine and specialties. Here are some of them …
- Andalucia: pescaíto frito (fried fish), salmorejo, gazpacho. Iberian ham and sausages, such as jamón de Jabugo. Seafood, especiallyshrimp (camarones), prawns (gambas), squid (calamares), mackerel and flatfish. Olives and olive oil (special in Andalusia). Sherrywine.
- Aragon: jamón serrano (cured ham) in Teruel, migas, very typical in small villages. Nuestra Señora del Pilar sweets in Zaragoza.Ternasco con patatas a lo pobre, one of the most popular dishes in Aragon. Borrajas, vegetable typical of this zone and chiretas, very popular in Ribagorza and Somontano de Barbastro. Peaches with red wine (from Calanda, in Teruel). Somontano, Borja and other wines.
- Asturias: the most famous regional dish is fabada asturiana, a rich stew made with large white beans (fabes). Apple groves foster the production of the traditional alcoholic drink, a natural cider (sidra). Sidra is traditionally poured in by an expert server (or escanciador): the bottle is raised high above his or her head to oxygenate the brew as it moves into the glass below. Asturian cheeses, especially Cabrales, are also famous throughout Spain and beyond; Cabrales is known for its pungent odour and strong flavour. Other major dishes include faba beans with clams, Asturian stew,frixuelos, and rice pudding.
- Balearic Islands: a typical island-based diet of seafood and simple, vegetable-based dishes as well as sobrassada. samfaina (ratatouille) andcoques (or cocas) are typical of Catalan cuisine generally. Majorca’s biggest export is the ensaïmada, a pastry.
- Basque Country: skillfully cooked dishes such as txangurro relleno (spider crab), marmitako. Idiazábal cheese and a distinctive wine, txakoli.Piquillo peppers, filled with cod or tuna.
- Canary Islands: possibly the only region of Spain where spicy food is traditionally eaten (a spicy sauce known as mojo is produced locally. Gofio, a local type of flour, is used as a thickener for stews. Papas arrugadas are perhaps the best-known local dish: – these are potatoes preserved in salt, which causes them to shrivel. Frangollo is a common dessert of the Canary Islands.
- Cantabria: the most famous Cantabrian dish is cocido montañés, a rich stew made with beans, cabbage and pork. Seafood is widely used and bonito is present in the typical sorropotún or marmite. Recognized quality meats are Tudanca veal and game meat. Cantabrian pastries include the traditional famous throughout Spain sobaos and quesadas pasiegas. Dairy products include Cantabrian cream cheese, smoked cheeses, picón Bejes-Tresviso and quesucos de Liébana. Orujo is the Cantabrian pomace brandy. Cider (sidra) and chacolí (known as txakoli in Basque Country) wine were a speciality that are recovering. Cantabria has two wines with DOC: Costa de Cantabria and Liébana.
- Castile-La Mancha: gazpacho manchego
- Castile and León: morcilla from León, Burgos or Valladolid (black pudding made with blood and different spices), judión de la granja,sopa de ajo (garlic soup), cochinillo asado (little roast pig), lechazo (roast lamb), botillo del Bierzo, hornazo from Salamanca, jamón de Guijuelo (Spanish cured ham from Guijuelo, Salamanca), a great variety of sausages like salchichas de Zaratán and cheeses like Cheese of Serrada or Burgos’s Fresh Cheese, and various of the best wines in Spain, Ribera del Duero wines.
- Cataluña: alongside Valencia, Catalonia has a long tradition of rice-dishes and seafood. In addition, cooked and cured sausages (fuet) from Vic are famous. Perhaps the most well-known dish is the Catalan cream (crema catalana), similar to crème brûlée. Catalan cuisine is rich, pa amb tomàquet and botifarra are typical food of Catalonia.
- La Rioja: above all its international Rioja wines, as well as its vegetable soups and its pepper and potato dishes.
- Extremadura: cocido extremeño (a rich stew of bacon, fowl, ham, meats, and vegetables), embutidos of Iberian pork, such as jamón serrano and lomo (pork loin), cheeses (including the indispensable torta del Casar, a close relative of the Portuguese queijo da serra),pitarra wine and migas extremeñas.
- Galicia: caldo gallego; an array of seafoods, especially octopus, cod and goose barnacles; tarta de Santiago, a tart made of almonds and lemon; empanadas; Albariño wine from the Rias Baixas. Polbo á feira (Galician), or pulpo a la gallega (Spanish), an octopus dish where the octopus is boiled, sprinkled with coarse salt and paprika (pemento picante) and drizzled with olive oil.
- Madrid: the cocido madrileño (Madrid’s chickpea stew) and the tripe dish callos a la madrileña, oreja de cerdo (pig’s ear tapa). Strawberries from Aranjuez or melons from Villaconejos, the wines from Navalcarnero and the anisette (anís) liqueur of Chinchón.
- Murcia: the products of its rich market gardens, such as zarangollo; fish and lamb stews; and the wines of Jumilla, Yecla or Bullas. There are also the Murcian migas.
- Navarre: vegetable stews, Tudela’s lettuce hearts with anchovies, salmon, Trout (like trucha a la Navarra); piquillo peppers, which are often stuffed with meat; Roncal and Idiazábal cheeses, curd from Ultzama, claret wine, and patxaran liquor.
- Valencia: the Valencian region, specialises amongst others in the famous paella, and is its birthplace. This dish is very popular, and it’s common to cook one each Sunday for family lunch. In fact, in Valencia, during Falles, one of the biggest holidays there, it is quite normal to find big paellas being cooked in the street. The typical Valencian paella contains meat and vegetables, but many other variants of rice-based dishes can be found, with shellfish, meatballs or just covered in egg (arròs amb crost).
What are the most popular dishes across Spain?
The following dished can be found in almost any region of Spain:
Tortilla de patatas: a simple yet satisfying omelet made of eggs, potatoes, onions and optionally garlic.
Gazpacho: a refreshing drink made of fresh vegetables originally from Andalucia, served during the hot summer months.
Jamon Serrano: the famous Spanish ham, produced in high mountain areas; the slow drying process in the mountain air gives it a special flavor
Paella: a rice dish with seafood, fish or chicken and vegetables, originally from Valencia, is probably Spain’s most well-known dish.
Chorizo: a typical pork sausage served cold or hot, fried, baked or stewed across Spain.
Generally, there are many rich, hearty stews and pulses; a lot of meat, fish and seafood and vegetables just as a side dish. There is used almost exclusively olive oil and lots of garlic.
Daily meals in Spain begin with a light breakfast (desayuno) (Make your own Spanish breakfast with this recipe). Next comes a three-course lunch (almuerzo ), the main meal of the day. Families gather to eat it in the mid-afternoon (usually between 2 pm and 4 pm). At about 9 or 10 pm they have supper (cena), a lighter meal. In addition, bollos (small rolls) and bocadillos may be eaten in the late morning; the merienda , a snack of tea or Chocolate a la España (Spanish-style hot chocolate) and pastries may be enjoyed in the early evening (about 5 p.m.).
In our “Recipes” blogs we will share some of our favourite dishes.
We would also love for you to share some of your family favourites … ¡ Buen provecho !