06 Mar Typical Spanish Food to Try While in Spain
If you have been in Spain for some time, or have made some research, I’m sure you have come across the typical stereotypes regarding Spanish food. Paella, tortilla and churros. Although those foods are very common around Spain, they are not made equally everywhere within the country. Furthermore, there are many other recipes and types of food that we love to eat, and that are not as known to the rest of the world. Let’s take a look at some of the “clichès”, and try to discover more of what Spain has to offer, and that I am sure you are going to love. Interested?
Let’s start by the obvious: Paella. Although this type of food is typical all around Spain, it is a specialty from the west of Spain, the Comunidad Valenciana, Cataluña and the Balearic Islands. Besides the rice, which is obviously going to be present in all different varieties of paella around the country, you will find many different ingredients depending on the area you are visiting. If you have time, plan a couple of days in Valencia and try the real deal!
The first thing to mention here is that the spanish understanding of the word “tortilla” is not the same as, for example, the American understanding of it (as you may verify in the picture below). There is also a difference to be made between what we call “tortilla francesa” (french tortilla) and “tortilla española”. The former is only made of eggs, while the latter is distinguished by the pressence of potatoes in it.
You can eat a good tortilla almost everywhere, and typically you wont find much of a difference between the different types. My recommendation here would be to avoid touristy-looking restaurants, with the big picture of the tortilla at the entrance. Try to look for some bar/tabern where they serve the original, just made tortilla.
If you want to “mix it up” a little, (and you are in Madrid), you should try a restaurant in La Latina called Taberna El Buo, where they serve huge tortillas with different ingredients inside. The tortillas are really big, so it’s best if you convince a couple of your friends to tag along. The food is to die for, and very affordable (you can eat with less than 10€).
Chocolate con Churros
I’m guessing you have also heard of this one. It is very “typical spanish”, although you can find it in some other european countries. Here in Madrid you have a wide selection of cafeterias that serve them. Moreover, take into account that they are best enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate. Some suggestions are the “Chocolatería San Ginés” or the “Chocolatería los Artesanos 1902”. They are very good examples of the original churros.
Madrid is commonly known for its “Bocadillo de Calamares” or calamari sandwich/snack. Next to the plaza mayor, there are a couple of small establishments that have been there for quite some time now. It’s a perfect plan for a sunday morning. Walk around the center of madrid and end up eating one of them, such as the “Magerit” or “El soportal”, both near the Plaza Mayor. If you are looking for some more “touristy” things to do around this area, we might have a couple of interesting tips for you.
Torillitas de Camarones
Okay, here things start to get a little more specific. This type of food is most common in the south of spain, and not widely recognized around the world. This “tortillitas” have little in common with the real tortillas. Again, to try the originals I suggest you wait until you have the opportunity to travel to the south (Cadiz, Málaga, Sevilla) and enjoy this great little dish. However, since our budget is not infinite, you can also try some at different restaurants or markets around Spain. One suggestion is the “Cebada Market” in Madrid.
The pulpo (octopus) is another very typical spanish food that is not as acknowledged around the world. It is truly delicious. It’s most common in Galicia, at the north of Spain. If you haven’t been up there yet, I suggest you make it a weekend plan. Go up there by train (try to get the tickets in advance because the price can be quite high) and explore the different types of Pulpo that are served around this area. It is also commonly known as “Pulpo a la Gallega”.
Many foreigners have some sort of aversion towards this food. It’s not very common in many countries, and can sound a bit revolting if you are not used to it. Don’t be put off by it’s looks. If you try it, you won’t regret it.
If you haven’t been living in Spain for long, it’s possible that you haven’t heard of this dish before, but it’s the typical sunday meal in many spanish homes. This dish is made up of different parts, and you can find many varieties of it around Spain. Every place is different, and in every place they make it their own. The “cocido madrileño” or puchero from Madrid, is one of the best known cocidos around Spain. It is made up of three parts, that you later mix together. On the one hand you have the meat, containing blood sausage, bacon, veal, “chorizo”, chicken, etc. (As I mentioned, people add different things depending on their taste).
On the second hand we have chickpeas, boiled potatoes and carrots. Lastly, we are left with some soup from cooking all the ingredients. Once you have this three parts, you mix them together however you want, and you enjoy a warm and delicious meal.
Gazpacho and Salmorejo
Similar to tomato soup, but not quite the same. These two liquid dishes are delicious, and very typical in the summer. The Gazpacho, on the one hand, is made up of tomatoes, garlic, onion, green sweet pepper, cucumber, teaspoon of ground cumin, salt and olive oil. It is also known as “gazpacho andaluz”, given it’s origins.
On the other hand we have the salmorejo. The texture here is a bit more dense, and it’s only made of fresh tomatoes and garlic or clove, mixed with slate bread, olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Both recipes are served many times as appetizers in small glasses or containers. They are the perfect combination of delicious and refreshing that comes before the main dish, and you will probably find their best version in the south of Spain.
I hope you have learned a bit more about spanish foods in Spain, and that you make a checklist in order to try them all. You won’t regret it!! Let us know what your favourite one is in the comments.