Spanish food is a source of comfort and home for many, and it’s no wonder why.
There’s a wide range of traditional foods that you need to try. But it might surprise you that you know some already.
After all, they’re not just popular in Spain, but globally too.
There are churros and paella, and gazpacho and tortilla. So many dishes have left Spain and can now be found in restaurants and recipe books worldwide.
Let me introduce you to the dishes that will delight your taste buds.
You’ve probably seen several vendors selling churros in the U.S, and it might surprise you to know that these fried treats are initially from Spain!
If you haven’t, then I can’t recommend these enough. Churros are strips of fried dough, and you can find them sprinkled in cinnamon, or you can dip them in chocolate.
Of course, there’s some argument over whether churros are genuinely Spanish.
Why? Because there are stories where Portuguese explorers brought the Chinese pastry youtiao over to Spain, where it gained popularity.
But despite this, you can’t deny churros are mainly associated with Spain these days.
You’ve probably seen paella in restaurants worldwide, but this dish initially came from the city of Valencia.
There are such wide varieties of paella, but the constant of it is the rounded rice which keeps it distinct from other dishes.
In Spain, you’ll find that the seafood version is the most popular and common version you’ll find.
But if you don’t like seafood, there are plenty of other popular variants.
Paella has been around since the 10th century, with Muslims introducing Spain to rice.
But it wouldn’t have so many variants until the 18th century, when it was no longer popular in Valencia.
If you want to enjoy paella, you’ll find that it’s most prevalent when you attend a large gathering because they cook it in a large, shallow, circular pan that goes onto the open fire.
While many people associate soup with comfort food for when you’re sick or cold, it’s the opposite in Spain.
See, gazpacho is a cold soup made from raw vegetables. Nowadays, you’ll mostly associate gazpacho with its red color due to the tomatoes in the recipe.
It’s no surprise that gazpacho is so easy to make. Just dice some raw vegetables and put them in a food processor, and you can enjoy gazpacho whichever way you prefer.
All we know about gazpacho is that the Romans first brought it over, but they didn’t start utilizing tomatoes in the recipe until the 19th century.
If you don’t enjoy tomato, it doesn’t have to be included in the recipe, but you can use any native Spanish fruits or vegetables.
These could even include avocados, watermelons, or even cucumbers. There are so many options available.
You shouldn’t confuse the Spanish tortilla with tortilla chips. Instead, you can expect tortillas to be composed of potatoes, onions, and eggs.
You then grill it all together and can enjoy them however you want. Tortillas are a dish that can be enjoyed either hot or cold, and as any portion of a meal, be it a starter or main.
But where did the idea for tortillas come from? According to local legends, a general of the Carlist army came up with the recipe to feed his troops.
Tomas de Zumalacerregui needed something you could make quickly and easily. Thus, using ingredients the camp had available, the tortilla was born.
Originally from France, the Spanish put their unique twist on croquettes to create their croquetas.
Croquetas are little deep-fried cylinders filled with various fillings; in most cases, they’re filled with ham or cheese.
They’re then coated in crumbs, where they’re then deep fried in hot olive oil.
You don’t have to just enjoy croquetas with ham or cheese. Many people will add vegetables and may spice them up with onions or garlic.
When it comes to croquetas, you can find them at any tapas place. They’re easy to snack on and are a great addition to any tapas bar.
Natillas de Leche
Natillas de Leche is another famous dessert from Spain and is believed to have been invented by nuns across Europe.
It’s an easy dish to make and one you could even make at home if you wanted to. But how?
The answer’s a simple one. Natillas de Leche is essentially egg custard, and the vanilla gives it a yellow coloring.
It’s then infused with some cinnamon and lemon for some extra sweetness. But what makes it different from other custards is the topping.
Above the custard, you need to put a maria-style cookie on top, where you can add some more texture to the dish.
Pulpo a la Gallega
The seafood lovers will be glad to hear that Pulpo a la Gallega is an octopus-based dish.
The Spanish have enjoyed octopus for centuries, and it’s no surprise they’ve experimented with different cooking methods.
You can thank the Galicians for this recipe; if you want an authentic version, you’ll find it in the northwest of the country.
You need to boil the octopus in a cauldron, where the tentacles are dipped three times to curl them.
There is a perfect boiling time, or it will be too rubbery or overcooked. Then, once it’s done, you just need to cut and trim it and then season it.
Just get some salt, paprika, and a bit of olive oil. Serve it with some bread and red wine, and you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious octopus meal.
These are only a small number of traditional Spanish foods available to eat, from appetizers to mains to desserts.
If you’re looking for more, then you’ll easily be able to find them. You don’t only have to go to Spain to enjoy these either, but feel free to look for them in restaurants and recipes.
There’s nothing stopping you from enjoying these traditional foods in the comfort of your own home.
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