foods such as bread and rice
have been eaten and enjoyed for centuries
is traditionally served as an accompaniment
to food, often with a little extra virgin
olive oil for dipping. Bread with cheese
is a common snack, and bread is also
used to thicken soups and stews.
The Valencia region is the home of one
of Spain's most famous rice dishes,
Traditionally cooked outside on an open
wood fire in a large flat-bottomed pan
called a paellera, a paella can
include all types of ingredients including
seafood, chicken, chorizo sausage, rabbit
and even snails.
of the vegetables commonly used in Spanish
cooking were brought back to Spain from
the Americas by Spanish explorers in
the 1400s and 1500s. Tomatoes, bell
peppers (capsicum), potatoes and zucchini
have now become synonymous not only
with Spanish cuisine, but Mediterranean
cuisine as a whole. Other commonly enjoyed
vegetables include onions, garlic, asparagus,
eggplant, spinach, cabbage, cucumbers,
lettuce and mushrooms.
vegetables are used in rice dishes,
stews such as cocida (a one pot
dish with vegetables, beans and chicken
or meat that originated in Madrid but
is eaten throughout Spain) as well as
soups such as gazpacho
(a cold tomato-based soup) and a wide
range of salads and vegetable side dishes.
fresh and driedis enjoyed as a
snack or as a dessert. Commonly enjoyed
fruit include apples, oranges, grapes,
cherries, dates and figs.
and Olive oil
warm, sunny climate enjoyed by much
of Spain makes it ideal for olive growing.
Many of these olives are pressed for
their oil, and the most prized olive
oil is "extra virgin," made
from the first cold pressing of the
best quality olives. Extra
virgin olive oil is used in cooking
and adds depth and texture to hot dishes
when added at the end of cooking. It's
also used in salad dressings and sauces
and for bread dipping.
sometimes stuffed with anchovies or
pimento (red pepper paste), are eaten
as appetizers and snacks, or added to
stews, hot pots and salads.
of Spain is bordered by ocean, and fish
and shellfish are abundant in these
rich coastal waters. Commonly enjoyed
fish include tuna, sea bass, hake, monkfish,
anchovies, sea bream, sole, sardines,
swordfish, clams, mussels, oysters,
shrimp and squid.
and shellfish are used in a myriad of
waysgrilled over hot coals and
served with bread and salad, fried in
olive oil and served as tapas (small
appetizers served hot and cold in bars
and bistros throughout Spain to accompany
sherry, wine, or beer) dotted through
a paella, or enjoyed in suquet,
a saffron-infused stew with tomatoes,
fish, shellfish, potatoes and wine.
(beans, peas and lentils) are used extensively
in Spanish cooking. Chickpeas
beans are used to make hearty bean
stews and flavorsome soups. Lentils,
such as Spanish pardina lentils, are
also added to stews and soups and are
used in salads. Green beans and peas
are used in a wide range of dishes including
paellas and hot pots.
nuts include almonds,
nuts and hazelnuts which are often
ground down and used to thicken and
enrich the flavor of stews, sauces and
soups. Toasted almonds are also a popular
poultry, eggs and cheese
most parts of Spain meat has traditionally
been eaten in moderation. Typically,
meats like dry cured Serrano ham, lamb
or chorizo sausage (a robust, pork sausage
made with garlic and paprika) are used
in small amounts to add flavor and texture
to a dish instead of being the focus
is a popular addition to stews and rice
dishes and eggs are used in a variety
of dishes including tortilla
de patatas, a traditional Spanish
omelet with eggs, potatoes and onion.
such as Manchego (a sheep's milk cheese)
is eaten as a snack, as tapas or with
fruit as a dessert.
over 700 years much of Spain was ruled
by the Moors (a Muslim tribal people
from the Moroccan region of North Africa)
and their influence remains today in
many of the seasonings used in Spanish
cooking including saffron,
cinnamon and cumin.
commonly used seasonings include smoked
paprika, garlic, flat-leaf parsley,
pepper, sea salt, white
wine vinegar and sherry vinegar,
fresh chilies, capers,
wine and lemon juice. These seasonings
are all used to enhance, not mask, the
natural flavors of the food.