The following article is sponsored by Tourist Office of Spain
As one of the most popular and flavorful cuisines on the planet, elements from Spanish cooking have made their way around the world, forever cementing a spot in many foodies' hearts — and stomachs. Boasting some of the most touted chefs in the world and glorious seafood caught right from the coast, food in Spain is undeniably delicious and heavily influenced by regional ingredients (often fueling the ever-popular siesta). The next time you’re in the motherland, make sure to sample these standout dishes in their place of origin.
One of the most quintessential Spanish dishes of all time, paella is a rice plate that originated from Valencia. Typical ingredients include green beans, saffron, rosemary, white rice, and a protein — either meat like rabbit, chicken, or duck or shelled seafood like snails and shrimp (sometimes both). Traditionally cooked over an open-fire, it is sautéed into a stew-like consistency. Rich and hearty, paella is either served as a standalone dish or side.
Jamón Ibérico or pata negra is a type of rare cured ham produced primarily in Spain. Consisting of at least 50 percent black Iberian pig found in the south and southwestern regions of the Iberian Peninsula, the meat is a salty delicacy that only recently became available in the States. You can enjoy it on its own like charcuterie (it’s usually paired with cheese or melon) or try a thin slice on toast with tomato, garlic, and olive oil.
Tortilla de Patatas
If you ask any local what their go-to meal is, more often than not they’ll say this Spanish take on an omelet. Prepared with eggs and potatoes that have been fried in oil, there aren't actually any tortillas involved (despite the name). After it's been fried, it's baked into the consistency of a quiche that can be served either hot or cold.
Churros and Chocolate
These tasty fried pastries sold from street vendors or cafes around town are a staple breakfast or snack that are best paired with coffee, café con leche or hot Spanish chocolate which has a thicker texture than American hot chocolate. A lifeline in Spain, consider them the sugar rush you need to power through the day.
Tapas are a Spanish tradition of — sometimes free — hot or cold bite-sized snacks served at bars before lunch or as dinner. Popular dishes include olives and cheese, calamari, meatballs, chorizo, empanadas, fried potatoes (patatas bravas), and prawns. We're a big fan because they encourage socializing over gorging on a big meal and they're a great way to snack without filling up before the late dinner hour.
Wine About It
With over 2.9 million acres of vineyards, Spain is the most widely planted nation on Earth and the third largest producer of wine. An abundance of grapes and varietals can be found around the country (over 600 in fact!), but La Rioja is by far the most well known, producing about 85 percent reds. Sip and swirl to your heart’s content on any number of tasting tours, but don’t miss trying the signature sherry in southern Spain or cava in Catalonia.