Spanish gastronomy is one of the most renowned and appreciated cuisines in the world, and especially in the last years, it has received universal recognition. The reason is simple: Spanish cuisine is the result of different cultures, and dishes are prepared with typical, simple and genuine ingredients. The coast areas can count on an incredible variety of fish products (shell fish, crustaceans, tuna fish), whereas the fertile green valleys inland are rich of fruit and vegetables of the highest quality.
The north regions of Spain are mainly agricultural, and they produce remarkable quantities of cheese products, while the mountainous areas are mostly centred around pork breeding, game and legume cultivation. Spanish regions differ from one other under many points of view, cultural, social, climatic and territorial: hence the existence of such a great variety of dishes and typical products.
Realising the impossibility to describe them all, we list here only the most famous products. The national dish is of course the famous Valencian Paella (from the word “paella”= pan). Paella can be cooked in many different ways, using meat or fish, vegetables and rice.
Another culinary highlight is tapas (an incredible variety of typical hors d’oeuvres which can be prepared in several ways), and Gazpacho (a sort of tomato soup with vegetables, served cold). A bit less famous but just as tasty as the aforementioned products is the Cocido madrilño (a traditional Jewish meal made with chick-peas) and the Fabada asturiana (bean soup with pork meat).
Fish and shell fish are the base of many recipes, like the zarzuela de mariscos, a spiced fried fish, the Galician Octopus (Pulpo alla allega) and codfish (Bacalao). Among sweets we find Churros, a fried cake usually eaten at breakfast, and Roscón de reyes, a Christmas ring-shaped cake cooked in the oven. We find also turròn, a turron with honey and almonds, and marzipan, a delicious heritage of the Arab domination.
As for wine production, Spain boasts a millennial tradition. Most of the people only know Sangria (the famous alcoholic drink made from wine, with spices and iced fruit), but there is much more than that. Spain has in fact a great variety of red and white wines, produced in the region of Rioja, Navarra, Galicia and Basque Country, to end with the complexity and variety of Cataluna wine production. In Andalusia we mainly find liquorous wines, the so called Jerez-Xérès-Sherry.
Remember that Spanish people have lunch and dinner much later than in the rest of Europe. You’ll hardly seat at table for lunch before 14 pm and 22 pm for dinner. Also, meals are generally quite long: Spanish people take it easy, and they love spending time in restaurants in good company.
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