1. Paella Valenciana
Paella is perhaps the most famous Spanish dish of all, and certainly one of the most abused. Authentic paella originates from the region around Valencia, and comes in two varieties: Paella Valenciana, with rabbit and chicken; and seafood paella.
Saffron gives the rice its color, and the base should be left to crisp into a mouth-watering black crust, called the socarrat. Always eaten at lunchtime.
2. Patatas bravas
A staple among the small dishes that make up a classic tapas menu, patatas bravas — “brave potatoes” — is named for its spicy sauce, rare in a land that generally shuns fiery food.
The potatoes are cubed and shallow fried and served the same everywhere. The sauce can come in any number of ways, from spicy ketchup to garlic mayonnaise with a dusting of pimiento (smoked paprika), or both.
3. Pimientos de Padron
A common dish on tapas menus, pimientos de Padron are green peppers that hail originally from the town of that name in Galicia, in Spain’s lush, rainy northwest.
Pimientos de Padron are fried and served with a deep sprinkling of salt. Though generally sweet and mild, their fame stems from the fact that the occasional pepper will be fiery hot — lending a Russian Roulette element of surprise to eating them.
4. Spanish Tortilla
Spanish tortillas or Spanish omelettes as it has been described by some Spanish friends are a staple in Spanish diets. It is easy to make, it has few ingredients that can be changed around to suit personal tastes and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Potatoes are diced and cubed, and fried off in oil in a pan, with or without onions and garlic. Once cooked, add them to whisked eggs, and grill in a pan on both sides. Delicious!
Paella comes from the beautiful city of Valencia. “It’s a Spanish rice dish that uses a distinct type of rounded rice” says Heather Knight, The Muslim populations of Spain first introduced the country to rice in the tenth century however, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the recipe we now know as paella became popular. There are two main varieties, Paella Valenciana, made with chicken and rabbit, and Paella de marisco, or seafood paella.
Visiting a tapas bar is highly recommended in the country. Tapas are small snacks and appetizers. Common tapas include pimientos de Padron, a green pepper that is fried and served salt, fried prawns, battered squid and olives.
The tradition of tapas began in the 18th century when travelers would stop at inns and the owners wished to serve food. No one could speak the same language or read, so the owners would bring out small selections of what they could offer visitors and thus tapas were born.
7. Natillas de leche
There is nothing like a good Spanish dessert after a great meal. Natillas de Leche is a Spanish egg custard and is a favourite after-dinner treat. It is usually infused with vanilla, which gives the sugary confection its yellowy color. It is also common to add cinnamon and lemon to enhance the sweetness of this comforting and rich dessert.