Spanish recipes are my absolute favourite. Whether trying them at home, or eating or in Spain, you are guaranteed to experience something wonderful and exciting. The subtlety of flavourings and combinations are truly inspired. But you must venture beyond the seaside tourist traps and follow the example of the Spaniards. Food is far more than a way of keeping body and soul together in Spain, it’s an entire experience and the focal point of the Spanish way of life. So do not judge by the fatty, garlicky food that you may find other tourists eating in Spain. Rather brush up on your Spanish and venture into the town, for some real food!
Eating out in Spain is relatively cheap and meals are usually substantial instead of gourmet. A good way to sample the local food is tapas, which are small dishes of snacks which are served anytime, especially in small bars. These tapas cover all types of foods, from seafood to vegetables. Many Spaniards make an evening of bar-hopping and trying different tapas. Why not join in on the fun!
The Spanish tend to eat traditional continental breakfasts, a light lunch and an evening meal, quite late in the evenings. There are some traditional dishes which simply must be tried, but each town has its own variation.
Spanish food also reflects the history of the country; its turbulent history, diverse geography and Mediterranean culture. The country was occupied for centuries by the Moors, who were the first to cultivate olives and oranges in Spain, and this had a huge impact of the Spanish diet, as did decades of extreme poverty suffered by millions under Franco’s repressive regime.
The Moor influence can be tasted in the huge variety of Spanish dishes flavoured with cumin, saffron and other exotic spices. The soups and stews, sumptuous and delicious, were the staple diet of peasant communities, surviving on home grown vegetables and meat bones stewed for hours to squeeze out every drop of flavour.
An exciting way of exploring Spanish food and wine is through culinary tours in Spain. Even tapas tours can be taken, as well as wine tasting. And if the wind takes you that way you can even go for some cooking lessons in emblematic places.
More about Spanish foods