What to taste in Spain for a tourist: the most interesting dishes of national cuisine. What is tapas and jamon, gazpacho and paella, where the best Spanish cheeses are produced, prices 2023
Gastronomic tourism has been gaining momentum in recent years. And not because all travelers have turned into gourmets!
Not at all, most people are used to having a snack on the go, while sightseeing along the way. But in the evening or even for lunch, most people would like to treat themselves to some colorful dish, characteristic of an exclusively visited country.
And in the case of Spain, you can try a lot. So much so that we could not even include all the delicacies and goodies of this Iberian country in our material. True, and what is mentioned is enough to fully feel the originality of Spanish cuisine.
National cuisine of Spain
Do you like to get acquainted with the culture of the country through gastronomy? Then be sure to check out our article to the end. After all, we have compiled a list of 10 Spanish dishes that every tourist should try.
Traditional Spanish tapas are served as an appetizer with wine or beer. We can say that this concept itself involves a great many variations.
Any light food falls under it: from chips and olives to even pork skewers. But most often, tapas means small sandwiches, and they are special for each restaurant or cafe.
The Spaniards even like to spend their Saturday evening like this. Visit as many bars as possible, drinking a glass in each, and eating a signature snack.
By the way, “tapas” means “lid”. Indeed, in the old days in Spain, glasses with drinks were covered with these small sandwiches so that dust or midges would not get into them.
If in the 13th century tapas consisted of only one bread and a piece of ham or cheese, today it is a multi-component dish. Tapas bars are common in the country, they work until late at night.
For local residents, visiting such establishments is a special ritual, because in each bar you can try original appetizer recipes. The principle of service in tapas bars is this – stand at the counter, ask the bartender for a plate. And then fill it to your liking, moving along the counter.
In Spanish catering establishments, you can order both individual tapas and plates with whole sets.
Jamon is a popular Spanish meat delicacy all over the world. This is a product with a thousand years of history, as evidenced by historical documents. It was served to the table of the Roman emperors, and also fed the legionnaires.
What is a hamon? This is a dry-cured pork ham. For jamon, only the hind legs of the pig are used.
The best jamon is produced in the central Spanish provinces, where the air is particularly dry: Salamanca, Teruel, Huelbas, Granada and Segovia.
There are two types of ham:
Premium Iberico. Pigs are fattened exclusively with acorns, the hooves of pigs are black, so jamon is called “black leg”
Serrano is a jamon made from pigs fed with regular feed. The cost of such a product is much lower.
This dish is a hallmark of Spanish cuisine. There are a great many recipes for paella, almost every Spanish family prepares it in its own way.
The basis of this dish is rice tinted with saffron or other spices. Paella is prepared with seafood, chicken, rabbit, and sometimes just vegetables or beans.
The most delicious and unusual paella is prepared in Valencia, where this dish is considered as one of the symbols of the region.
The most famous Spanish soup, which can be tasted in almost every restaurant in the country. Light, refreshing – it is usually eaten in the summer, sometimes crushed ice is present in the composition.
Gazpacho in Spain is made from fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, garlic, white bread. Tabasco sauce, the best olive oil and fresh lemon juice add piquancy to the soup.
Gazpacho is the most famous vegetarian dish in Spain. In Spanish supermarkets, you can buy ready-made gazpacho in cardboard boxes resembling juice.
As well as mashed potatoes in glass jars, which you just need to dilute with water. It can be brought from Spain as a souvenir.
Eggs, potatoes, onions – these are all the ingredients of the classic Spanish omelette, which tourists love to order in restaurants so much. It is curious that onions are not always added to this dish.
Despite such a simple set of ingredients, the Spanish omelette is incredibly tasty. Potatoes are simmered in olive oil and then poured with lushly beaten eggs.
Then you can add some chorizo, jamon, spinach, zucchini – a great lunch is ready from almost nothing. In tapas bars in Spain, you can try tortilla as a cold snack.
Of the hearty dishes in Spain, this is the first thing you need to taste. Fabada is made from white beans with bacon, pork ham, chorizo with paprika and saffron. It can be served with beer, cider or wine.
Spaniards most often eat this dish in winter – for the summer heat such food is heavy. Tourists try fabada in Spain all year round; it is always present in restaurants of national cuisine.
To repeat this dish at home, bring Asturian white beans, paprika, saffron, spicy smoked sausages from Spain. All this is easy to find in supermarkets, but it is more profitable to buy spices in the markets.
And here is a raw smoked sausage. Depending on the variety, chorizo can be white, dark red, or even black.
Chorizo traces its history back to 16th century Spain. Its appearance was associated with the discovery of America and spicy spices brought from overseas.
The composition of chorizo sausage has not changed much since then. Most often, minced meat is prepared from pork, often beef is added. Chorizo necessarily includes paprika or chili pepper, which is why it turns out so spicy.
Sausages formed with pork intestines are dried or smoked in a cold way.
The Spanish version of ratatouille, in hotels this dish is often served for breakfast. Pisto consists of tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini or eggplant – all stewed in olive oil with spices.
Pisto is served warm, most often with scrambled eggs and toast. It can be ordered in Spain as an independent dish or as a side dish for fish.
It is believed that the best pisto is prepared in the Basque Country. So if you decide to visit Bilbao, don’t forget to try Pisto a la Bilbaína. That is, a stew of vegetables in tomato sauce, served with scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon.
In Spain, like nowhere else in the world, they know how to cook pork. And one city in this sense stands out in particular.
Just an hour from Madrid is a small but fantastically beautiful Segovia. People come here for the cinematic appearance of the local castle, the impressive Roman aqueduct, the imposing cathedral and the summer royal palace.
But Segovia is also famous for its gastronomy. Perhaps nowhere else in the world is suckling pig cooked the way it is done in this city. Well, maybe in Madrid.
The meat is baked in huge wood-fired ovens. It turns out so tender that it is cut not with a knife, but with the edge of a clay plate.
The most popular street food in Spain, which every tourist should definitely try. This is a sweet pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry.
Churros are made in the form of thick long tubes filled with stuffing. The second option is long thin churros in the form of a lasso or horseshoe, they are empty inside.
They are supposed to be dipped in sweet sauce, hot chocolate or coffee with milk. Many tourists are so excited that they want to take the churros home.