Because of its many influences from different ethnic groups that have lived in the country throughout the different ages, Spain has a very diverse cuisine. The Moors, who have lived in Spain for a very long time, have left their marks, which can be noticed in the Spanish cuisine. The same herbs and spices they used can still be found in almost every Spanish kitchen. The types of dishes that are eaten throughout the country also vary from region to region. For example, the eastern and southern regions differ in flavours; this can be noticed in the different popular dishes from each region. This has to do with the differences in geography, climate and culture.
Spain can be divided in six main cultural regions:
North: one of the most varied culinary regions. Specialized in seafood, sauces and cheese.
Pyrenees: here “chilindrones”, a marinade sauce of sautéed peppers, tomatoes and onions, are served with a lot of regional dishes.
Cataluña region: known for its casseroles, cheeses and regional sauces.
East: specialized in rice dishes, like “paella”.
Andalucía: famous for serving fried food, like fried fish. The region is also known for its “gazpacho”.
Central Spain: this part of Spain is known for its roasts, “cocidos” or stews.
In general, the Spanish kitchen is mainly influenced by seafood, available from the sea that surrounds Spain. The most essential ingredient in the Spanish kitchen is olive oil, mainly because of the large oil production in the country. Other important ingredients are garlic, olives and peppers. Furthermore, Spain is known for its tasty pork sausages, chorizo, and for its Serrano ham. Products are usually fresh and can be bought at all the different markets that are held in every city or village.
First course, “Primer Plato”
Gazpacho is a dish that is eaten all throughout the country. It is a cold, raw soup originated in Andalusia and it is usually eaten as a starter. The soup is made of crumbled bread, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic.
Main course, “Platos Principales”
The most famous dish in Spain is the paella, which originates from Valencia. Paella is a dish of rice seasoned with saffron. Paella is cooked in a flat pan with two handles and can be prepared with almost everything, for example; seafood, chicken, rabbit or only vegetables. Each region in Spain has its own specialty. Paella is mainly eaten as a lunch during siesta time.
Crema Catalana is a dessert that originates from Cataluña. It is actually the Spanish variant of “Crème Brûlée” from France. It is a rich dish, with ingredients such as eggs, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and milk.
Tortilla de patatas, also called Tortilla Española, is a potato omelette which can be served as a tapa, on bread, or on the side with a salad.
Patatas bravas: Patatas bravas are a very classic but simple Spanish tapa. It consists of potatoes served with a slightly hot sauce.
Croquetas de jamón: is a small dish consisting of ham surrounded by dough. It is a fried tapa and tastes creamy and smooth.
Chorizo: is a spicy pork sausage, seasoned with a sauce of paprika and garlic. The sausages come in all sizes and shapes and are maybe the most famous tapa.
Sangria: is a mixture of red wine, lemon-lime soda, brandy, triple sec, sugar, oranges and lemons. It is a very inexpensive drink and can be bought almost everywhere in Spain.
Cider: is an alcoholic beverage made from apples. This drink is only available in some part of Spain; it is especially served in Asturias and Basque.
Café con leche: is drunken by a lot of Spaniards every morning. It is a mixture of strong coffee with scalded milk.
Furthermore, Spain is known for its excellent wines. Especially famous is the Rioja wine.
Authors: Lisette Vreeken & Whitney Josafath