10 Most Popular Spanish Foods

A beautiful country, full of friendly, welcoming people and lots of delicious food to gorge on - Spain is a dream destination for every vacationer. In this Buzzle write-up, we're listing the 10 most popular foods in Spain.
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Tortilla Espanola
Did You Know?
The nation of Spain prides itself on the sheer variety of flavors, colors, and styles of cooking that are indigenous to each region. So, a basic paella will taste, smell, and look different, depending on the province you're having it in.

There are the beaches, the countryside, Antoni Gaudí, and not to forget the delicious food―these are among the top reasons why tourists from all over the world flock to Spain each summer. As in the case of all old cultures, Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by its history. The food here has a distinct Roman touch, with a dash of Arabic, Berber, Indian, and New World ingredients and flavors. Quite expectantly, then, that Spanish cuisine is a glorious mishmash of inspiration provided by rulers, invaders, traders, and lately, the Internet.

While the paella is indeed an unmissable delight to be savored, it certainly isn't the know-all and end-all of Spanish cuisine. Feast your eyes upon the delicacies that follow, and you'll know precisely what we're saying.

Churros

Churros

It's hard not to love the way the Spanish people begin their day. Churros are a breakfast staple, often accompanied by a hot chocolate dip. The churro is a variant of the donut; this one being deep-fried and crunchy. They can be shaped differently across the country, with varying thickness. You'll find these being served piping hot with the chocolate dip at street side vendors everywhere.

Croquettes

Croquettes

Croquetas are a regular sight in all the bars in Spain, and are a favorite form of tapas, the Spanish term for appetizers. With dinner being served rather late, the locals here have gotten really creative with their late evening snack, which doubles up as a fine conversation starter in bars everywhere. Back to the croquetas, the local version is usually made sans any patatas; bechamel is used instead. These may be stuffed with cured ham (jamón), chicken, or shrimp, or just plain bechamel.

Tortilla Española

Tortilla Española

As much as we'd like to call it an omelet, the Tortilla Española is much more than that, and yes, way more delicious as well. Firstly, there aren't as many eggs in it as in the case of a regular omelet; the base ingredients here are potatoes and onions, and then some eggs. It is also called tortilla de patata, signifying its actual contents. Deep-fried chunks of potatoes and onions are browned to perfection, then mixed with eggs and fried again, resulting in a thick, golden disc of delectable fluffiness. This tortilla doubles up as a full dinner or even a tapas, when sliced up into bite-sized pieces.

Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo

Succulent and flavorful, gambas al ajillo are garlic prawns with an unmistakable Spanish touch. With its long coastline, seafood in Spain is abundant and really fresh. Locals get really creative when cooking their prawns here, so don't be surprised if you get different versions of one dish in different places. The traditional take on this is to add a dash of dry sherry along with Spanish paprika, lemon juice, and parsley to the prawns cooked in olive oil with a generous infusion of garlic.

Chorizo

Chorizo

Chorizo is a spicy pork sausage laced with lots of garlic and smoked paprika. It can be eaten straight or smoked, and can be sweet or spicy, which does say a lot about its versatility. Cured meats are a hot favorite in this country, as is evident by our next delicacy.

Jámon

Jámon salad

Walk into any bar in Spain, and the sight of humongous legs of ham are unmissable. Being the largest producers of dry, cured ham, Jamón Ibérico is Spain's crowning glory. Making cured meat is an art form here, and manufacturers make it a point not to deviate from traditional recipes. The result is that the meat ends up lasting for over two years, tasting absolutely delicious.

Paella

Paella

Think Spanish cuisine, and the paella springs to mind. An interesting bit is that most international visitors to Spain assume the paella to be a seafood and rice concoction, whereas the original version actually uses chicken and/or rabbit. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that the seafood in Spain is always available fresh, and let's face it―shrimp paella is definitely a one-way ticket to gastronomy heaven.

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

Spanish cuisine does not deliver a lot of hotness, but there are certain exceptions. Patatas Bravas is a dish that is universally loved―it's fries, after all. But what brings in the fiery surprise here is the accompanying dip comprising the hottest chillies you can imagine. Does take considerable bravado to down these, and they are understandably popular throughout the country.

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega is a dish that is a complete winner, judged on the basis of its simplicity. The pulpo in consideration here is octopus meat, steamed to perfection with paprika, sea salt, and olive oil. It's a signature Galician dish, and is mostly served on a wooden platter.

Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana is not to be confused with its cousin from across the border, the crème brulée. While the later is mainly flavored with vanilla, the Catalan version is spicier, with a hint of cinnamon and flavored with orange or lemon zest.

Spanish cuisine cannot be contained in a mere 10 dishes, but we've tried to keep this compilation as varied as possible. You, of course, are encouraged to try out all these on your next trip to Spain, and indeed, add your favorites as well.
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Published: June 24, 2014
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