Spain is a beautiful country that lies in the southwestern part of Europe, along the Iberian Peninsula. With a lively culture, friendly locals, stunning architecture, and plenty of beaches to spend your days at– it’s easy to see why many put Spain on their bucket list. Also, not to be missed is the amazing traditional food you can eat here. On a trip to Spain, you’ll taste some of the world’s top cuisines, which your tastes buds will thank you for! Each region has its own flavours and signature dishes. Here are some of the foods you must try while on an expedition through Spain!
LET’S TALK TAPAS
While these aren’t necessarily dishes to try, you should definitely stop in one of the many Spanish tapas! These small appetizers or snacks that can be served hot or cold. Tapas are usually served in bars, and this can be a gastronomic adventure in itself! Many of Spain’s most famous dishes include food you’ll get at tapas. And as a bonus, most tapas are really affordable, which means that any type of traveller can experience it! Tapas are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.
FOR ALL THE SNACKERS
While most people like to eat three big meals in a day, there’s also a small group of people (including me) who would rather have smaller bite-sized meals more frequently throughout the day. For us “snackers”, going out to eat while travelling can be a bit overwhelming especially if the destination favours big portion sizes. But don’t worry! In Spain, they have tons of smaller dishes for you! A local favourite is croquetas. They are served in many restaurants, each featuring their own unique flavour combinations! These tiny fried balls feature different flavours usually bound together by bechamel or mashed potatoes. A popular flavour is jamon (click here for a recipe to try!). Another popular food to snack on is calamares, or fried squid. Usually served in the shape of a ring, the squid is battered and fried, and served hot. I’m half-Greek, and fried squid (or καλαμάρι) is also popular in Greece! While I’m used to having the squid with lemon juice and tzatziki, in Spain it is served simply with lemon juice and salt. Visiting Spain wouldn’t be complete without trying an empanadilla. These little pastry pockets are usually filled with meat and vegetables, but there are tons of combinations to try. There’s never-ending options when snacking your way through Spain!
I SEE SEAFOOD
When your country occupies about 85% of the Iberian Peninsula, you’re bound to take advantage of your surroundings. And that’s exactly what Spain has done! They have created some of the best seafood dishes in the world, and here are some recommendations for what you should try! A definite must-try while in Spain is paella. This is a rice dish that can be filled with all types of seafood, which could include mussels, clams, fish, or prawns. This dish is traditionally from the Valencian area. Another dish you could try is calamares. This battered squid dish is a popular appetizer that could find at almost any bar or restaurant. If you happen to be in the Galician area, and are feeling adventurous, you should definitely try pulpo a la gallega, or boiled octopus. Traditionally cooked in copper pots, pulpo a la gallega features a prominent paprika taste, and is still found today at polbeiras (octopus restaurants). For all you garlic fans out there, have I got the dish for you! Spanish garlic prawns are cooked in small clay pots, and usually incorporate a small chili for an added kick of spice. When in Spain, it’s highly recommended that you try one of the many local seafood dishes you can find all over the country!
Spain is well-known for its selection of cured meats. Many of the local farmers and butchers raise the animals free-range. A favourite is chorizo, a sausage filled with spices! It has a very distinct red colour to it. If you want a less-spicy version, you could also try salchichon, which you’ll find on many charcuterie boards. Jamon (ham) is a thinly sliced type of pork. Jamon is a very big business in Spain, and the quality and price of the meat is determined based on different factors. One factor is the type of food the pigs are fed. Pigs that are acorn-fed are considered more valuable than those that are corn-fed. Spanish cured meats hold all the flavours of the country in one bite!
A culinary journey wouldn’t be complete without something sweet! Luckily, Spain has plenty of dessert dishes that you’ll dream of for years to come. Tarta de Santiago. This almond cake hails from the Galicia region, specifically the area known for being the end of the St. James pilgrimage. Traditionally, this cake is dusted with powdered sugar with a cross in honour of the saint. One Spanish dessert that has risen to fame all over the world is the churro! These long tubes of dough are fried and served usually from street food carts. Many people have them as treats, late night snacks, a sweet breakfast, or whenever you like! In Spain, they’re usually served rolled in cinnamon sugar, or plain with a cup of melted chocolate for dipping (click here for a simple recipe you can try at home)! Just as famous as churro, next up on your list of Spanish desserts to try is flan. This is made in many different ways, but the basic ingredients are milk, eggs, and sugar. This gelatinous dessert is cooked in a water bath, and is traditionally served with a caramel that’s so delicious! And if you find yourself passing a pastry shop, take a look inside for an amazing treat: torrijas. These small squares of fried bread and like little bites of heaven! They traditional come in three flavours: honey-soaked, milk and cinnamon, or wine and simple syrup. Unfortunately, these pastries are seasonal and only made during the Easter season (March and April). But whichever time you decide to make your culinary expedition through Spain, you’ll get to taste some of the best desserts in the world!
Are any of these dishes catching your eye? Acanela Expeditions offers expeditions to Spain that will give you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the Spanish culinary culture. On a trip to Spain with Acanela, you will have the chance to participate in cooking classes, go on a tapas dining tour, and learn from an English-speaking culinary guide! For more information, please feel free to email us email@example.com, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!
Author: Demitria Rounis