2Bread and riceGrain foods such as bread and rice have been eaten and enjoyed for centuries throughout Spain.Bread is traditionally served as an accompaniment to food, often with a little extra virgin olive oil for dipping. Bread with cheese is a common snack, and bread is also used to thicken soups and stews.The Valencia region is the home of one of Spain's most famous rice dishes, the paella. Traditionally cooked outside on an open wood fire in a large flat-bottomed pan called a paellera, a paella can include all types of ingredients including seafood, chicken, chorizo sausage, rabbit and even snails.
3Vegetables and fruitsMany of the vegetables commonly used in Spanish cooking were brought back to Spain from the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 1400s and 1500s. Tomatoes, bell peppers (capsicum), potatoes and zucchini have now become synonymous not only with Spanish cuisine, but Mediterranean cuisine as a whole. Other commonly enjoyed vegetables include onions, garlic, asparagus, eggplant, spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, artichokes, lettuce and mushrooms.These vegetables are used in rice dishes, stews such as cocida (a one pot dish with vegetables, beans and chicken or meat that originated in Madrid but is eaten throughout Spain) as well as soups such as gazpacho (a cold tomato-based soup) and a wide range of salads and vegetable side dishes.Fruit—both fresh and dried—is enjoyed as a snack or as a dessert. Commonly enjoyed fruit include apples, oranges, grapes, cherries, dates and figs.
4Olives and Olive oilThe warm, sunny climate enjoyed by much of Spain makes it ideal for olive growing. Many of these olives are pressed for their oil, and the most prized olive oil is "extra virgin," made from the first cold pressing of the best quality olives. Extra virgin olive oil is used in cooking and adds depth and texture to hot dishes when added at the end of cooking. It's also used in salad dressings and sauces and for bread dipping.Whole olives, sometimes stuffed with anchovies or pimento (red pepper paste), are eaten as appetizers and snacks, or added to stews, hot pots and salads.
5Fish and shellfishMuch of Spain is bordered by ocean, and fish and shellfish are abundant in these rich coastal waters. Commonly enjoyed fish include tuna, sea bass, hake, monkfish, anchovies, sea bream, sole, sardines, swordfish, clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp and squid.Fish and shellfish are used in a myriad of ways—grilled over hot coals and served with bread and salad, fried in olive oil and served as tapas (small appetizers served hot and cold in bars and bistros throughout Spain to accompany sherry, wine, or beer) dotted through a paella, or enjoyed in suquet, a saffron-infused stew with tomatoes, fish, shellfish, potatoes and wine.
6Meat, poultry, eggs and cheese In most parts of Spain meat has traditionally been eaten in moderation. Typically, meats like dry cured Serrano ham, lamb or chorizo sausage (a robust, pork sausage made with garlic and paprika) are used in small amounts to add flavor and texture to a dish instead of being the focus of attention.Chicken is a popular addition to stews and rice dishes and eggs are used in a variety of dishes including tortilla de patatas, a traditional Spanish omelet with eggs, potatoes and onion.Cheese such as Manchego (a sheep's milk cheese) is eaten as a snack, as tapas or with fruit as a dessert.
7TRADITIONAL SPANISH DISHES PaellaPaella is a traditional Spanish dish from Valencia. It is a rice dish that can have meat, fish, seafood, and vegetables and is characterized by its use of saffron to give it a yellow color and unique flavor. There are three main types of paella:Valencian paella/paella valenciana: rice, green vegetables, rabbit, chicken, or duck, snails, beans, and seasoning.Seafood paella/paella de marisco: rice, seafood, and seasoning.Mixed paella/paella mixta: combination of seafood, meat, vegetables, beans, and seasoning.
8TapasTapas is a great Spanish food tradition composed of small dishes of different types of food, like appetizers or snacks. The dishes may be cold (jamón serrano, queso manchego, olives, etc.) or warm (tortilla española, meatballs, etc.) and can be served as bar food or as complete meals. It’s a great opportunity to taste a whole variety of flavors and dishes, so if you are ever in Spain make sure to order tapas and experience what the country has to offer!
9Tortilla EspañolaAnother great typical Spanish food is the tortilla española. The tortilla is an omelette-like potato dish, fried in olive oil, and served as a tapa. It is a filling and flavorful dish (with the addition of chopped onions) and can be served in slices, warm or cold.