A Taste of Spain: Your Guide to the Local Cuisine

The British are often somewhat unfairly stereotyped by other nations as having an unpalatable culinary heritage. Whilst this, as any patriotic soul will tell you, is absolute rubbish, it is undoubtedly true that it can be nice to take a gastronomic dip into the delights of other countries’ diets and to leave off on the fish and chips or haggis for a little while at least.

Britain’s cities, towns and indeed villages are dotted with Indian curry houses, Chinese buffets, Italian restaurants and even French-style cafes. Spanish cuisine, on the other hand, is found far less frequently, which is a great shame. Mention food from the Iberian Peninsula and the best reaction you might hope to get would be; “tapas?” and perhaps, with a frown of distaste; “calamari?” otherwise known as squid. That ought not to be the case, as Spanish food deserves equal recognition with its better known counterparts, especially as Britons have been enjoying Spanish hospitality for decades. The following is an introduction to the varieties of Spanish cooking for those looking to take their taste buds on a tour of the many flavours of Spain.

Espana

Espana

Seafood plays an important role in Spanish cooking, as might be expected from a country surrounded by oceans; whether this is the rolling deeps of the Atlantic Ocean or the gentler shallows of the Mediterranean. A mountainous, apparently divided country, Spain has had a turbulent past. The presence of the Moors had a deep influence on some parts of the country, which was not fully unified under Christian rulers until 1492.

Perhaps paralleling this more fragmented history and current political structure, Spain’s regions tend to be much more strongly associated with particular kinds of food than their British equivalents. Although Yorkshire Puddings and Cumberland Sausages are staples of pub food up and down the whole of the UK, in Spain local dishes are a way for a region to assert its independent historical identity.

1. Andalusian Cuisine

Andalusian Cuisine

Food from Andalusia is often fried and is dominated by the use of the olive oil that is produced locally. Fish and shellfish feature prominently, including squid, cuttlefish and crab. Adventurous diners might also consider trying ortiguillas, also known as battered sea anemones!

2. Valencian Cuisine

Valencian Cuisine

Mediterranean-based, Valencian cuisine has given the world paella and rice-inflected dishes. Another famous export is gazpacho, a cold sort of tomato soup that’s normally consumed during the scorching hot days of the Spanish summer. In truth, it’s not really possible to do justice to the diversity of Spanish cuisine with words alone. It has to be seen, smelt and above all tasted; whether in a villa in the Pyrenees mountains or alongside one of the country’s exquisite beaches, overlooking a Mediterranean sunset.

3. Catalan Cuisine

Catalan Cuisine

The region of Catalonia was bitterly opposed to the rule of General Franco and is home to the city of Barcelona. Its sense of having a separate identity to the rest of Spain was fostered thanks to the brutal oppression of fascist rule and its own language and is perhaps emphasized by the success of its football team. It is thought that at some point it may ask for a referendum to secede from Spain.

Catalonian food tends to feature Mediterranean vegetables such as Aubergine, pork (Catalonia is one of Spain’s biggest producers) and picada, which is a kind of sauce that can include a variety of different kinds of ground nuts, mixed garlic, herbs or biscuits. Both sweet and savory dishes are available in abundance.

After delving into its culinary history, it’s no wonder why Spain is such a popular destination for foodies the world over. And if you’re like me and can’t wait to try a taste of Spain, one piece of advice would be to book a Gerona airport taxi service to remove the stress of travel and allow you to tuck into some tapas pronto. So what are you waiting for? Vamos!

Guest post by HolidayTaxis.com, an airport shuttle service with a passion for Mediterranean travel. For more holiday advice and other travel ramblings follow @Holiday_Taxis on Twitter.

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