My favorite part of traveling is trying the local cuisine. I find it the best way to experience a new culture. With an open mind and hungry stomach, you can learn a lot about a country by the food they eat. On a recent trip to Spain, in addition to seeing the sights, I got a taste of what it is like to eat like a Spaniard. Below are some of the top foods travelers should try while in Spain.
1. Jamón Serrano – Jamón is easy to spot in Spain. Spain is the largest producer of air-dried-cured ham and Spaniards are the number one consumer of cured ham in the world. This ham is sliced thin and is delicious eaten as is, or on bread.
Ever wondered what goes into curing jamón?
2. Paella – This rice dish is definitely a crowd pleaser. You can find many versions of paella to fit anyone’s tastes. There are seafood paella, meat paella, vegetable paella or a mixture of it all. You’ll spot paella by noticing its yellowish color due to the saffron added to the dish.
There’s more to a paella pan than you think
3. Tortilla Espanola – Tortilla Espanola, or simply Tortilla, as it is known to locals, is a Spanish omelet much thicker than your average omelet. It is made with potatoes and fried in olive oil. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and eaten anytime of the day.
Not your average “tortilla” recipe
4. Gazpacho – Never did I think a soup could be so refreshing! Gazpacho is a tomato-based, vegetable soup served cold. The tomatoes are pureed in a blender to a smooth consistency then chilled water, olive oil, vinegar and salt are added. Fresh garnishes of peppers, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers are the perfect toppings.
How to make the ultimate summertime gazpacho
5. Sangria – Okay, this might not be a food but while in Spain it is an absolute must! Never did I like sangria so much until I had an authentic taste of it in Spain. Whether you like it white or red this wine punch is perfect after a long day of touring the sites.
Impressively simple sangria recipes
* Bonus: Churros con Chocolate – A trip to Spain (especially Madrid) is not complete without trying this decadent dessert, Churros con Chocolate. Light and crisp dough sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar dipped into a thick, rich, pudding-like chocolate is a perfect way to taste the local Spanish flavor.
My favorite spots to eat are at tapas restaurants. There you can order several small plates of food for you and your friends to share. It is the best way to try a variety of food and find your favorites. No matter what your food preference is, you are likely to find something delicious in the local markets and restaurants of Spain. Happy eating! Salud!
Readers, what Spanish dishes do you think should have made the list?