I’ve had the pleasure to spend lots of time in Spain. My first introduction was in 1977, 78 and 79 when I and two high school friends spent a good part of our summer studying in Spanish as part of a rebuild the city of Cuenca project. Cuenca is situation approximately 2 hours by train from Madrid. I’ve walked across Spain multiple times as part of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage journey, and I’ve volunteered both in the little hamlet of Moratinos (mid point on the Camino Frances) and in Santiago de Compostela. My top favorite Spanish culinary delights are the following:
1 – Paella. Originally from Valencia, paella is a traditional rice dish with as many variances as there are restaurants that serve it. However, the majority of dishes all have the same rice base flavoured with saffron, one of the most expensive spice in the world. That what gives the rice its golden colour. Paella can be vegetarian, with chicken or seafood, and wherever I went, that was my first option of meal. As you can see from my face, I really enjoy paella!
2 – Spanish Tortilla. Don’t be fooled thinking this is a Mexican food. The Spanish tortilla is an egg and potato base tort, and sometimes ham or onions are added. It was a perfect gluten-free snack that gave me great energy when I was walking on the Camino.
3 – Pimiento de Padrón. These little peppers are mostly sweet, but every once in a while you can get a hot one… a really hot one. It’s a luck of draw which is the caliente one!
4 – Pulpo. More commonly known as octopus, pulpo is very common in Galicia. Pulpo is boiled in a copper cauldron and the tentacles are cut with scissors. It is typically served on a wooden plate, seasoned with olive oil and hot paprika. Delicious!
5 – Tarta de Santiago. Another gluten-free option, this dessert originating in Santiago is an almond flour tart. Baker have a tool that covers part of the top with symbol of the cross. The uncovered portion of the tart is covered in powdered sugar. It is one of my favorite desserts.
6 – Tapas or Pintxos. Depending on which region of Spain you are visiting, you will be enjoying either tapas or pintxos. Both are small bites of food to enjoy with your alcoholic beverage or to order as a course. Many bars offer tapas on the house with purchase of a refreshment. Pintxos are served with a toothpick.
7 – Churros con chocolate. A rich dough, piped in short length fried in oil and covered with powdered sugar. Typically served with a cup of hot chocolate, but not or regular hot chocolate. Hot chocolate so thick the churro can stand uptight. Unfortunately, there are no gluten-free churros.
As an added element, I want to share my favorite Spanish liqueur, Licor 43. I was introduced to this sweet smooth liqueur back in 1977. I’ve been a fan ever since.
There are so many other typical meals from Spain, but these are my favorites.
Do you have favorite meals from your travels?