Spain is known for its vibrant culinary scene, and there are many spots around the country that are considered to be top foodie destinations. From the sweet to the spicy, these traditional dishes should all make it onto your must-try list the next time you are in Spain.
Spain grows the sweetest of tomatoes, and it is this very ingredient that is the star of gazpacho – a chilled tomato soup made with ultra-ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, bread, peppers and cucumber. Blitzed until silky smooth, this tangy and refreshing soup is always popular during the summer months, and you will usually find a fresh jar of gazpacho on every tapas bar counter top.
Paella was born in Valencia in the mid-19th century, and Valencians today proudly claim that it is possible to eat a different version of this dish every day of the year, as there are so many varieties out there. While this may be the case, the most important element to a paella is the rice used, with bomba or calasaparra rice being two varieties that are grown on the east coast of Spain, and are known for being particularly effective at absorbing all of the other flavors in the dish.
A flavorful pork sausage with plenty of garlic and Spanish smoked paprika, chorizo comes in many different forms, and is one of the most versatile foods in the country. From sweet to spicy to smoked to cured, chorizo is used in a number of different dishes, sometimes just for flavor but often as the star ingredient. While there are many different types of chorizo to be found in Spain, Chorizo Zamorano and Chorizo Riojano are both protected varieties, and most definitely worth trying.
Known in English as suckling pig, cochinillo features a pig that has been slaughtered when it is under a month old, meaning that it weighs just six or seven kilograms, and, when slow-roasted, the meat is unbelievably tender. Roasted in huge wood-fired ovens, the meat is usually cut with the edge of an earthenware plate to showcase its tenderness, and, if you want to ensure that you are tasting an authentic variety, be sure that the pork that you are eating has come from a registered farm in the Segovia province, which is where the dish originated.
While many cannot tell the difference between the Spanish crema catalana and the French crème brulee, there are a few subtle aspects that set them apart. While the French version is served warm, the Catalan version is eaten cold, and features a custard that has been infused with cinnamon and lemon rather than vanilla. This makes it beautifully refreshing, and the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth on a hot Spanish day.
Pulpo a la Gallega
Pulpo a la Gallega is a dish that may not be as famous as paella and chorizo, but it is one that will truly excite each and every one of your taste buds. This dish originated in the picturesque Galicia region, which is known for their incredible seafood, and consists of Galician octopus that has been cooked with olive oil and paprika. While this may seem simple, it is the quality of the Galician octopus that makes this dish a stand-out, meaning that it cannot be authentically replicated with octopus from elsewhere.
Spain is home to a diverse and exciting culinary scene, especially in recent years as modern Spanish chefs have been taking traditional dishes to new levels. The way in which each Spanish dish has its own variety depending on the region in which you eat it is part of what makes Spanish cuisine so beautiful, so do take the time to enjoy the unique flavors that come with each dish.