Spain is renowned all over the world for its excellent food, packed with flavour and character.
Most first-time travellers are surprised to find out that In Spain it is common to eat five times a day. Breakfast is usually eaten 8am-11am in the morning. Around noon is the right time for a light snack (almuerzo), either sweet or savoury. Lunch, the heartiest meal of the day, is served between 2 pm and 4 pm. This is followed by an early evening snack and by late dinner around 9pm-11pm.
Bellow, you will find our recommendations for foods you shouldn’t miss when in Spain.
Churros: For traditional breakfast, nothing beats these small cylindrical doughnuts made of deep-fried flour, dipped in hot chocolate.
Tortilla Española: also called the Spanish omelette, this is one of Spain’s most iconic foods. The potatoes and onions are slow fried in olive oil then mixed with the beaten eggs.
Lunch is the largest meal of the day. Most restaurants have a very affordable “menu of the day”, consisting of a drink, a first course, a second course and dessert. Stews, soups and stewed vegetables are common in the winter and rice dishes, salads and vinaigrettes in the summer.
Our recommendation for lunch is the famous paella: this Valencian rice dish comes in many types. Ingredients for the traditional paella Valenciana include chicken or rabbit, saffron, runner beans and butter beans.
During the hot Andalucían summer, the perfect refreshment is gazpacho: cold soup made of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, bread, peppers and cucumber, blended until silky smooth.
The afternoon is the time to socialise and try out one of many traditional treats: torrijas (fried bread pre-soaked in milk or wine and egg), turrones (almond nougats), buñuelos (fried dough balls), and much more.
For many Spaniards, the time between finishing work and having dinner is perfect for tapas: tiny plates of food served to accompany drinks. You will find tapas bars everywhere in Spain, and they come in hundreds of varieties. Every bar and every region have its own set of specialities. This is a cheap and delicious meal, with the price of a single tapa ranging from one to two euros. They are often very strongly flavoured with garlic, chillies or paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron and generous amounts of olive oil. Often, one or more of the choices is seafood in a tomato-based sauce, sometimes with the addition of red or green peppers or other seasonings. Patatas bravas and gambas al ajillo are some of our favourites.
Finally, the specialty Spaniards are particularly proud of is jamón: typically Spanish dry-cured ham. There are two types: jamón serrano and jamón ibérico. Jamón ibérico is a true delicacy, with the meat coming from free-range Iberian pigs on a diet consisting essentially of acorns. Wine plus pieces of toast rubbed with garlic and tomato, topped with olive oil and slices of jamón make for a perfect light dinner.
This is only the tip of an iceberg. Each region has its own range of specialities, and discovering all the richness and diversity of the Spanish culinary culture is a long and pleasurable journey!