spanish food facts

All about Spanish Food

Spanish food has been encapsulated in what has become known as ‘Mediterranean’ and yet only half of the country can be strictly considered as such.

The north of Spain is green. It is affected by the Atlantic Ocean and heavy yearly rainfall while the luminosity and intense blue coloured skies of the south are magical throughout the year, Africa is not far away.

spanish food regions

Spain Food and Regions

The diversity of some of the regions is such that in some cases it  is not difficult to find sharp differences between the food of the coast, the interior and the mountains, after all Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe. 

To simplify things it used to be said that in Spain the north was associated with rich stews, and sauces, Castile with the roast and Andalusia with frying particularly fish, but to generalise about the food of the different regions of Spain can be quite misleading. Some signs of identity may help.

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This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
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Spain is an important producer of fresh fruit and vegetable

Spain is an important producer of fresh fruit and vegetables including some lesser known which are associated with a particular region such as borage, white asparagus, cardoon as well as   peppers of all colours: Padron from Galicia Piquillo from Navarre and Choricero from the Basque Country. Since the Seventeenth  Century, tomatoes and peppers have been added to the ancient onion sauce sofrito which is used as a base in many recipes everywhere.

In a country with limited grass, butter is mostly used in the preparation of desserts

Olive oil is the main cooking fat used in the Spanish kitchen and yet pork fat was and still is used in certain parts of the country. In a country with limited grass, butter is mostly used in the preparation of desserts and confectionary. In the last twenty years Sherry vinegar,  a secret well kept by cooks in Jerez , has substituted other types of wine vinegars.

Most importantly Spanish creativity in the kitchen has contributed to an updating and improvement of home and regional cooking as well as the offerings of modern tapas bars and local restaurants dotted all over Spain.

Spanish Food: Lentils and Rice Recipes

Lentils, chickpeas and bean dishes have lost in recent times some of their popularity in home cooking but now are offered in fashionable restaurants as a  speciality of the house served on certain days of the week.

Rice brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors after the 10th Century goes well beyond the Paella and sweet Arroz con leche asturianoThere are more than 100 different rice dishes cooked in Catalonia, the Comunidad Valenciana and Murcia , as well as in Andalucia and many other parts of Spain.  Dishes cooked with pasta which was brought first to Spain by the Arabs and centuries later by the Italians are still gaining ground. In Alicante the dish Fideuá is cooked with the pasta called fideos in a paella pan.

paprika spanish food

Pimentón, the Affordable Spanish Spice

There are very few spices used in Spain today. From Galicia to Castile, from Andalusia to Navarre and from Murcia to Extremadura, pimentón, the affordable Spanish spice made from dry sweet or hot peppers brings every day colour and flavour to sauces and stews. Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world , appears today in very few Spanish recipes with the exception of  Paella Valenciana and in the Asturian Fabada. It is produced in La Mancha, in central Spain.  

Get the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain

This is the first book in English to trace the History of the Food of Spain.
Get this Masterpiece now!

Use of the Herbs in the Spanish Dishes

Fresh parsley is the Spanish herb por excelencia. In Andalusia mint and coriander flavour soups and broths while fennel is favoured in the Balearic Islands and in Andalusia for curing fresh olives.

Dried, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf are present in many  stews and other platos de cuchara (spoon recipes).

Fish and shellfish, fried, grilled or in a tasty stew, is  loved everywhere in Spain.  

With the exception of Green Spain in the North and in Extremadura on the border with Portugal where beef is excellent, the historical preferences for pork and lamb recipes are in evidence.  

Veal from young animals (not to be confused with veal produced from milk fed animals) is as popular as the grilled rib of beef, chuletones  traditionally offered at the Basque  asadores  and cider houses.  Hams, both Serrano and Ibérico and a great selection of cured meats and sausages including chorizo are also to be found in local carnicerias (meat shops). In markets, chicken (pollo), small game and eggs are sold in special shops known as pollerías.

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