The following post was written by a reader of mine that had some information to share about traditional Spanish foods. I love when readers send me their own insider knowledge about places in the world I haven’t been to or places I’ve gone but want to know more about.
I actually learned a bit about the different cuisines in each Spanish region when I took a paella cooking class in Barcelona. Spain itself is only about the size of Texas, but each of the regions has its own unique food culture based on the history of the areas and the ingredients available to them. My cooking instructor taught us a lot of this including the story of the origination of paella which I loved learning about. If this sort of thing interests you, then you should totally check out Airbnb Experiences when you travel to find a local place like this. Don’t forget to pick up a valid Airbnb code to save some money though!
I’m done rambling now. Enjoy Andre’s post about the amazing food you can find around Spain…
Food should always take the main part in your trips since it expands the connection with a country’s culture.
Spain has a rich food culture so the best way to discover this country is by Spanish traditional foods. If you like diversity, then Spanish food is for you. Although certain dishes are common through the Spanish cuisine, each region offers its own culinary pleasures. Many cultures, both invaders and visitors, as well as its colonies have influenced Spanish cuisine over the centuries. That is why the food varies from region to region, depending on the culture and climate. Spain is divided into six unique culinary regions.
Barcelona is the capital city of this region and the best way to taste this city is by trying escudella i carn d’ olla. This dish is a soup with pasta and meat, containing two pilotas (large meatballs) and butifarra (Catalan sausage). The dish also includes vegetables of your choice. The pasta is usually enormous macaroni-type noodles. Escudella i carn d’ olla is a typical Catalan dish and it can be served in two ways. The first is a two-course meal, serving the rice and thin noodle soup, then the vegetables and meat. Of course, it can also be served at once. Here there is more information on the best foods from Cataluna.
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The North of Spain
If you are in this region, you will find lots of seafood and sauces, particularly in the regions of Galicia and Asturias.
The exquisite Galician delicacies are the main tourist attraction there. The many delicious meals are based on high-quality farming, country, and sea products. You must try the Galician octopus – Pulpo Gallego. This flavorful tapa is a cooked octopus served with olive oil, sweet Spanish paprika, and boiled potatoes.
Asturias and the Basque Country
You must try pintxos as they are regarded as a basis of Basque society and culture. Pintxos are ‘spiked’ with a toothpick or skewer to a piece of bread. This Basque meal goes perfectly with the famous cider from Asturias. The cider base is sour apples that add for its specific taste. They even have a specific way to pour it, which releases the aromas and creates a foamy layer. Therefore, the locals do not see the cider as just a drink; they see it as a real culture, which you must experience.
This mountainous region is home of the chilindrones, onions, sautéed peppers, and tomatoes dish, which accompanies many dishes there. It is famous for its modern and appealing interpretations of the traditional Spanish dishes. The cooks there are fond of savory and sweet combination and of sauce thickened and flavored with pine nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts (like the famous sauce romescode pescado in the fish medley). You must try some cured meats as the cured pork cuisine boasts botifarra and the Vic fuet.
To wash down these delicious dishes, you need to sample some of their fantastic wines. Nearby this region, actually in Catalonia, there is a wealth of powerful red wines, fresh roses, and lovely, light whites. However, their most famous wine is Cava. It is a sparkling wine, Spanish’s equivalent to champagne. Cava is the best natural sparkling wine!
The Eastern region
You already know that one of the most popular Spanish traditional foods is paella. This dish originates from this region, particularly Valencia. You will definitely love this rice dish, cooked on large, round plates. It is cooked with chicken and rabbit, olive oil, tomatoes, sweet pepper, green beans, saffron, and peas. You will get a real taste of Valencia by enjoying the satisfying, hearty plate of paella.
This region is a paradise for any olives fan. You can see the olive trees there and taste the exceptional Spanish olive oil essential to Spanish traditional foods. Fried fish, prawns, and cured ham are essential in Andalucía as well. However, tapas deserve special attention in this region. It seems like bars do not serve drinks without tapas. One of the best tapas you can enjoy in the bars there are patatas bravas and croquettes. Patatas bravas are crispy potatoes with aioli and spicy tomato paprika sauce. The croquettes are a crunchy fried ball of béchamel sauce, combined with fish, vegetables, Jamón, seafood, or ground meat.
In the tapas bars, you must try also gazpacho. It is a soup made of the ripest, reddest tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, peppers, cucumber, and bread. All these ingredients are blended until smooth then they are chilled. You can enjoy the refreshing gazpacho in a bowl or glass.
This region includes Castilla-Leon where you must try the flavorful pork dish. The suckling pig is roasted to perfection and combined with spices and herbs, including bay leaves and oregano.
Finally, when you visit the capital of Spain, you must try the most popular traditional Spanish dish – tortilla Española. It is made with potatoes and eggs, but you can find it with onions as well. The eggs are slightly runny and the potatoes are tender and melt in your mouth.
Spain is a fun place to look around for exciting and new foods to try since it has varied cuisine all over the country. From Andalucía to Asturias, each region has a different culinary culture that is a joy to discover. From the paella to the many typical tapas, and taking in popular hams, stews, sausages, or any other traditional Spanish foods, your visit will be unforgettable!
About the author:
Andre is an avid traveler and food enthusiast. He has visited 50+ countries in the world and loves eating with the locals, there is no food market he has missed. He is currently based in Barcelona where he takes curious travelers around the city most delicious corners through is company: Barcelona Eat Local. You can follow his publications on Facebook and Instagram.