Gastronomy of Spain
The Gastronomy of Spain – Appetising Healthy and Delicious
The gastronomy in Spain is as rich and varied as the country itself. First class ingredients, excellence in cooking, wise old tradition and promoting new culinary concepts, have led Spain to be on top of the culinary list in Europe.
To define Spain in terms of gastronomy, is easy: olives, extra virgin olive oil, cured Serrano ham, fresh vegetables, sherry and garlic. Add all of this to the chicken, fresh fish, seafood, or any kind of meat, and you are summing up the superb Gastronomy of Spain.
When you arrive in Spain for the first time, you will hopefully wish to taste lot all that the gastronomy Spain has to offer and discover that paella is not the only dish consumed and sangria not the only famous drink.
The Spanish cuisine is extremely diverse and ranges from snacks (tapas) to generous portions of fresh regional and local dishes based on meat or fish and other unique dishes. Try out some of the most famous Spanish dishes via our recipe section.
A great way to explore the real Spain when eating out is seek out the sometimes smaller bars and hidden restaurants where the locals frequent. You are more likely to encounter authentic local dishes and lower prices whilst soaking up the unique atmosphere.
Eating out in Spain is a real treat and generally very good value for money. A good option to discover the gastronomy of Spain and eating out during the day is the so called ‘’menu del dia’’ – menu of the day, which is usually displayed outside the restaurant or Bar, sometimes on a blackboard and will show the 2 or 3 courses, and drink, included in the menu. Prices range from 7 to 12 euro/person – the prices will vary depending on the category of the restaurant.
It is a good idea to confirm before eating that “pan, postre y vino” (bread, dessert and wine – which are included in the menu), to ensure you do receive any unwelcome additions to the menu bill at the end of your lunch or diner.
Spain is of course home of those famous Spanish tapas which are small plates of food served up in bars and restaurants all over the country and are usually very reasonably priced and a great way to try a number of Spanish dishes without having to order large dishes. The Tapa ( which means to cover ) was invented in a bar in Seville in southern Spain by farmers who used to cover their drink with a piece of bread to keep out the flies and other small insects.
Gastronomy of Spain has been on a culinary high in recent years where some of the best restaurants anywhere in the world can be found, Barcelona alone boasts some 22 Michelin starred establishments. Three restaurants, the Cellar de Can Roca in Girona and the Mugaritz and Arzak in San Sebastian are often found in the top 10 in the world.
The pick of the best 2 Michelin starred restaurants in Barcelona include Moments Restaurant, Abac, Lasarte and Enoteca, you will need to book well in advance though of having a chance to book a table at any time during the week.
Paella is probably the most famous Spanish dish, known throughout the world and is a rice dish cooked in many different variation depending on the region. Usually Paella is cooked with seafood or chicken or rabbit and sometimes all at the same time.
Where do you find the best paella? Well Valencia is the province where this famous dish was born, so arguably the best varieties can be tasted around this region. It is often a custom to cook huge Paellas during many of the festivals in Spain.
Cold meets are a firm favourite in Spain. Cured ham tops the list and is prize delicacy in Spain, known as ‘’Serrano Ham’’ or Jamon, it’s delicious to eat at any time of the day and you will soon get used to the unique taste. Ideally, good quality Spanish ham should be sweet rather than salty.
One of the best types of Spanish ham is from the town of Jabugo in Huelva in Andalucia where the finest Pata Negra ( black foot ham ) is cured, surely one of the pinnacles of excellence of gastronomy in Spain. There are also several types of sausages made of pork meat, especially chorizo (spicy and thin) and salchichon (dry and very similar to Italian salami).
Spain is a Mecca for fish and seafood lovers and on average a whopping 8 kilos of seafood per person is consumed be each and every year. The choice is remarkable and what you would expect from a country surrounded by the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas. Lobsters, langostines, crabs, barnacles, shrimps, octopus. oysters, mussels and clams are amongst the favourites on offer all over Spain.
There is always a good selection of fresh meats on sale at the larger supermarkets and indoor markets to be found in most towns and villages throughout Spain. Beef is eaten quite a lot in Spain and is called ternera. Other favourites include fillets of ternera, chuletas de cerdo ( pork chops ) lamb chops, chuletas de cordero. Galicia is well know for producing the best Spanish beef due its extensive are of green pastures and temperate climate.
Wine from Spain
The wine in Spain is by excellence, the preferred Spanish drink when dining out. Along with France and Italy, Spain is one of the top producers in the world. It has a wide variety of quality wines from 57 different areas. Spanish Rioja is the king of wines and Sherry is the international wine of Spain, due to the increasing exports in recent years. This world renowned wine whose name derived from Jerez, the reason being the first vines of this type were raised in the city of Jerez de la Frontera. Sherry (or Xerez) is available in various versions: dry fino, manzanilla very dry, semi-dry amontillado or Oloroso semi-sweet.
White wine is “vino blanco”, red is “vino tinto”. Some of the most famous vineyards are found in Rioja, in the picturesque northern central area of Spain and at Penedes, near Barcelona. Sangria is known in Spain as a sort of punch prepared either with wine or champagne, mixed with pieces of fruit and sometimes with spirit drinks. Sangria is usually served in mugs with a kind of ladle, being very refreshing.
Cheese from Spain
Spain is also home to some fine cheeses, there are around 100 different varieties. Every region has its own speciality, covering a full range of cheese types, from fresh to cured and fermented to blue-veined. One essential characteristic is the type of milk used in the production. Depending on the area, time of the year, climate, or tradition, cheese in Spain is made of cows milk, sheep’s or goats’ milk, or indeed a mixture of all three.
Eating and drinking in Spain represents more than a necessity, it defines the country’s culinary traditions and customs, really delicious and one of the major attractions of the country is the opportunity to try out countless bars, cafeterias and restaurants, as a way to relax at dusk, after a tiring day at at work or after spending the day on one of Spain’s top beaches.