The diverse culture of Spain is unique in its uncomplicated approach to life. So too is its down-to-earth cuisine that uses locally grown or regionally available crops whenever possible.
Although the dishes may differ between neighboring villages or regions, Spanish people are known for their strong beliefs in traditional foods. That is why many of the same dishes can be found today that were served over 300 years ago. Mixed into the local daily foods, you can also find contributions from the Arabs and Romans people that conquered Spain for a time.
No matter where you travel in the Spanish provinces, you can find plenty of food that is full of traditional flavors because the Spaniards love creating food almost as much as they love eating it.
Mexican Food Is Not Spanish Food
Many Americans confuse Spanish food with Mexican food, but the two couldn’t be more different. While the Mexican people often use lard, chili powder, and cloves to flavor their food, Spaniards rely on olive oil, garlic, paprika, and saffron.
Many people in Mexico also use tortillas, corn, and beans as their main side dishes, but the people of Spain tend to rely on rice, wine, and cheese as sides to their dishes.
Cultural Influences Are Found in Ingredients
With different ethnic groups settling centuries ago in different regions of Spain, a variety of cultural influences on recipes and ingredients can be expected.
In fact, there is a saying that when you travel between provinces along the Spanish countryside, you can be sure the weather, the food, and the accents are going to change.
However, no matter where you go or what recipe you sample two common ingredients can be found in most main course meals – garlic and olive oil.
Fresh From the Garden Food Sources
While much of Europe has begun growing vegetable gardens and fruit trees in the past two decades, the Spanish people have been doing so for hundreds of years.
Known for growing olive trees and making wine, Spain’s countryside is also filled with citrus trees, vegetable gardens, and sunflowers. In the northeast, fig and nut trees are also staple crops that are used as chief ingredients in a wide variety of recipes.
Common Foods Are Not So Common
Across Europe, the snail can be found as the star of the springtime meal. Considered a delicacy by many, the creeping critter has been a food source in Spain for thousands of years.
As with everything, the Spanish create recipes with snails in their own way. Though they claim to have an aversion to overly spicy food, snails are prepared using onions and cayenne peppers. Then they are enjoyed with a cold drink.
The Much-Loved Spanish Cuisine Using Vegetables
All across Spain you often find staple foods, but with a regional twist.
One of these is a favorite of nationals and travelers alike – the gazpacho soup. Filled with olive oil, garlic, ripe tomatoes, and other garden vegetables, the blended soup is served in the summer and enjoyed cold.
Another popular favorite is paella. Although known as a traditional Spanish mixture of rice, vegetables, and spices, there is no definitive recipe. Instead, many people claim you can make a different type of paella every week of the year and never repeat yourself.
Lastly, a favorite meal in Spain often consists of a regional stew filled with everything good and in season. Toss in your favorite vegetables or meats and gather the family to enjoy.
More Recipes That Star in Spanish Tapas
Tapas are small bars that serve food and hearty drinks. The Spaniards love their food and drink, so why not mix the two and have the best on a night out!
Garlic prawns are a seafood lovers favorite, and they are so popular that the dish can often be found served in tapas bars.
Green chile mixed with olive oil and tossed over gently cooked prawns leaves an aroma to make your mouth water.
Another popular tapas food is the croquetas. It is a small ball of crusty dough, filled with vegetables, fish or meat. The crunchy outside lends way to the soft inner creaminess.
Spanish food can now be found worldwide, as health-conscious individuals explore the amazing recipes perfected over hundreds of years ago.
Spanish cooking classes are found everywhere, taught by chefs who have spent some of their professional career in Spain, or traveled to Spain at some point and fell in love with Spanish cuisine.
Among others, Cozymeal, an online marketplace for chefs, has put together a nice collection of Spanish cooking classes in major metropolitan areas taught by professional chefs. The basics of Spanish style cooking use herbs, garlic, and olive oil to highlight the ingredients in traditional recipes, making the food of Spain a sure hit at any gathering.