Best Food in Spain
It would be impossible to list all the tasty foods from the rich Spanish food culture – but here are at least 10 top Spanish foods you have to try.
Spanish food is often recognised as one of the top cuisines in the world, and some traditional Spanish dishes and recipes date hundreds of years. Food has become as integral to Spain as its rich and tumultuous history, with each region of Spain – once a collection of numerous, distinct kingdoms – boasting their own unique cuisines and flavours.
Each regional speciality in Spain is worth trying, and many of the top Spanish restaurants are known by the different regions they come from. In the main Spanish cities you can find Basque, Galician, Asturian and Valencian (paella) restaurants, to name but a few of the renowned regions for local food specialities.
In bars you'll quickly find the usual top Spanish tapas all around the country, for example olives, Manchego cheese, tostadas con tomate (grated or scratched tomato on Spanish bread), pinxtos (Basque-style, mini sandwiches) or a plate of Spanish bravas (fried potato with spicy tomato sauce). While Spain's tapas are a gourment exploration in itself, here are some more top Spanish foods you have to try.
Top Spanish foods you have to try
You can find Spanish a plate of croquetas in almost any restaurant or bar, each made to the establishment's own – sometimes secret – recipe, combining ingredients such as jamon (cured ham) or bacalao (Atlantic cod fish) with béchamel sauce, which is then breaded and fried. The creamy cheese (queso) croquettes pack a smooth flavour, or try the croquettes of local sweet-spiced black sausage (morcilla) or Spanish blue cheese (queso de Cabrales) for unique Spanish flavours.
It's also a good yardstick for comparing food in Spain: the quality of a bar-restaurant can often be judged by their ability to handle the Spanish tapa staples of croquettes or bravas (Spanish potato chips). The traditional, scrubbed-down bars usually serve the best.
Make your own:
2. Tortilla Espanola
The Spanish omlette is another beloved top Spanish food – and everyone has an opinion on how to cook it. It's a great starter (or meal) for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and no doubt you'll come across many Spanish potato omelettes during your time in Spain. Like croquetas, you can find them in almost any bar and to varying degrees of quality and flavour. The best ones come from slow-cooking caramalised onion and potato in olive oil, which later creates a soft-sweet centre once egg is added and it is cooked into a thick omelette, almost like a cake. A tasty Spanish snack you'll see around is a wedge of omelette squeezed between bread to make a bocadillo (sandwich).
Make your own:
3. Gazpacho or salmorejo
This zesty, chilled tomato soup has claimed space in supermarkets and on menus around the world, but few compare to refreshing Spanish gazpacho made with full-flavoured Spanish tomatoes. Usually eaten as an appetizer – and sometimes drunken straight from a bowl or glass – this thick soup is made from blending a whole heap of fresh tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, garlic, onions, vinegar and herbs. It's the perfect Spanish food for summer, as well as a low calorie and healthy dish. Salmorejo is a similar Andalucian version combining pureed bread, tomatoes, garlic and vinegar – also served cold – and sometimes varied with a bit of ham or egg slices on top.
4. Pisto – Spanish ratatouille
This vegetarian top Spanish dish is for all ages, eaten in Spain as a tapa, appetiser, a side dish to meats, or even as a meal with a fried egg on top or chorizo. It's a Spanish ratatouille of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, onions, garlic, and of course, olive oil. The palatable competition of intense roasted flavours makes this a tasty recipe to try at home. You can find it in restaurants around Spain, and especially in the towns across the plains of La Mancha, south of Madrid.
5. Cured meats – jamon, chorizo, salchichón
jamon is ubiquitous in Spain, carved thinly off cured legs of pork that you will see hanging in most bars and restaurants. jamon is a serious business and an art in Spain, with many factors in place to determine quality, such as what the pigs are fed, the type of pig and the curing process. Jamón ibérico de bellota is the top category, where Spanish pigs (Ibérico) are free-range and acorn-fed (bellota); other types include Ibérico (corn-fed) or Serrano ham, which are typically cheaper.
Another Spanish favourite is chorizo, a cured sausage with sweet and spicy flavours, identified by its red smoked-pepper colouring. You'll also see the softer-flavoured salchichón served on mixed charcuterie platters.
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