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Spanish Food: 28 Popular Dishes + 5 Secret Recipe Tips

Spanish cuisine is one of the most popular and iconic on the planet, as it has a rich variety of delicious creations with its influence stretching far beyond the country’s borders. Read on to find the most famous dishes from the Spanish cusine, as well as secret recipe tips.

Besides the indelible mark Spanish food culture has on Latin America, many Spanish dishes are considered a global sensation and enjoyed in various culinary traditions.

Despite all that, there’s more to Spanish food and dishes than meets the eye, and if you’re interested in taking a deep dive into this unique cuisine, this article will be your immersive guide to this tasty adventure.

Keep on reading as we explore traditional Spanish cuisine, popular dishes and beverages, street food, hidden culinary gems, best cooking ingredients, secret recipe tips, food etiquette, and much more. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Traditional Spanish Cuisine – More Than Paella and Gazpacho

Traditional Spanish Cuisine – More Than Paella and Gazpacho

Spanish cuisine boasts rich and unique characteristics thanks to the country’s historical and geographical influences. Many famous dishes in Spain use locally-grown ingredients and items that you may not find elsewhere.

Additionally, you can notice the variety of flavor profiles across Spain since the country is made up of various regions, each with its own traditions, customs, and even local languages.

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular Spanish street dishes and the popularity of Spanish cuisine on the world stage.

Most Popular Street Food in Spain

Most Popular Street Food in Spain

While Spain has a rich street food scene, it’s mostly composed of popular dishes that are also enjoyed in some bars, restaurants, and even at home. Among the most popular choices is tapas, which is a collective term that describes a huge variety of small savory dishes.

The most popular tapas enjoyed in street food stalls are potato-based ones. This includes patatas bravas (spicy fried potatoes), tortilla de patata (potato omelet), and croquetas (deep-fried potato balls with various dips).

Dishes and sandwiches that include cured ham, called jamon, in addition to savory pastries like empanadas are also quite common as street food in Spain.

Besides savory dishes, many sweet desserts are also popular street foods. The most iconic ones are, of course, churros. These are long, fried dough pastries, often dipped in hot chocolate.

Spanish Food in the World

Spanish Food in the World

Spanish food enjoys widespread international recognition for a wide range of reasons. The perfect balance between boldness in flavors and familiarity really does the trick and encourages many people to try it with incredible success.

For starters, Spanish influence through colonialism and cultural exchange has introduced many of its regional cuisines to various parts of the world. As a result, many dishes out there have a sense of common familiarity with Spanish food.

Also, Spanish cuisine uses readily available ingredients like rice, vegetables, and olive oil, making it highly adaptable while staying familiar to the average palate.

While Spanish restaurants aren’t as common as some of its neighboring countries (like Italy, for example), it’s quite common to find various Spanish dishes among the menu items of many restaurants.

How Healthy Spanish Food Is

How Healthy Spanish Food Is – Olive Oil is Rich in Omega-3

Like other Mediterranean cuisines, Spanish traditional food includes a lot of vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Many dishes also rely on whole grains with little emphasis on heavily processed products.

Also, many of the key ingredients used in Spanish cooking are known for their healthy benefits, such as virgin olive oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. This also applies to lean protein and especially seafood, which is fairly abundant in Spanish cuisine.

That being said, moderation remains the secret to maintaining a balanced diet while enjoying Spanish delicacies. You should also note that the culture of tapas and shared plates can sometimes lead to overeating, so you have to be mindful of the portions you eat.

Top 28 Spanish Dishes You Must Try

Top 28 Spanish Dishes You Must Try

Now that you know more about traditional Spanish food, let’s take a deeper dive into what this cuisine has to offer. To make this list easier to go through, we’ll break down the dishes into various categories, including main dishes, soups/salads, sides, and desserts.

Mains

Mains – Escalivada

Spanish culture has a few main dishes, which are typically enjoyed alongside several sides and salads rather than on their own. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Spanish people to combine these dishes with various tapas to make unique creations depending on their palate.

Paella

Paella

Paella is one of the most popular dishes in Spain and is enjoyed in various regions around the world, thanks to its delicious flavor and healthy ingredients. The rich dish is typically cooked in a wide, shallow pan, and often accompanied with a seasoning of saffron.

The roots of the national dish come from Valencia, which is why it’s also called “Paella Valenciana”. The dish also contains Lima bean, a type of protein-rich white bean that has a buttery consistency when cooked.

Different variations of the plate use a wide range of additions, including seafood, chicken, rabbit, and vegetables. It’s also enjoyed alongside various tapas and other side dishes, and it’s common for many families to have their “secret paella recipe”.

Fideuà

Fideuà

Fideuà and Paella share a lot of similarities together, as both dishes hail from the coasts of Valencia and contain common ingredients like vegetables, shellfish, legumes, and lemon seasoning.

However, the main difference between the two dishes is that Fideua uses paste noodles instead of rice as the base ingredient of the plate, which is why many call it “Pasta Paella”.

Fideua typically includes a unique tomato pepper sauce along with delicious fish broth to give the dish its iconic flavor.

Escalivada

Escalivada

Escalivada is a traditional dish enjoyed in many parts of Spain, including Catalonia, Murcia, Aragon, and Valencia. The dish includes a variety of roasted vegetables, mainly seasoned bell peppers and eggplants.

The dish was originally prepared by cooking the vegetables in the embers of a wood fire until the vegetables were super soft, which is where it got its name. However, it’s now prepared normally on the stove on medium-low heat.

In addition to the vegetables, the original recipe includes tomatoes, garlic, and onion, along with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Fabada

Fabada

While many simply call this dish Fabada, its full name is “Fabada Asturiana”, which refers to the autonomous Asturias region in Spain. However, the dish is so popular across Spain that it’s available in cans in supermarkets.

This hearty dish is often enjoyed as the main dish of the day, but can also be enjoyed in small quantities as a starter. This rich and warming dish is traditionally a winter favorite and is often enjoyed with red wine or cider.

Fabada is mainly made by cooking white beans called “Granja” after soaking them overnight. The dish also features various types of meat, including lacón (pork shoulder), chorizo (pork sausage), Tocino (a type of bacon), and morcilla (blood sausage).

Tortilla de Patatas

Tortilla de Patatas

While tortilla is universally recognized as white flatbread that originated in Mexico, it has a completely different meaning in Spain. A Spanish tortilla is simply a potato omelet made by mixing potatoes and onions, which are then cooked in olive oil.

A generous amount of whipped eggs are then added to the mix while frying to create a relatively thick frittata-like cake, which is usually cooked on both sides until golden brown.

The iconic dish is then sliced into pieces and enjoyed at any time of the day, but it’s often enjoyed as a main course alongside other dishes.

Soups & Salads

Soups & Salads

Soups and salads, whether hot or cold, make up a significant portion of Spanish people’s food culture. These traditional dishes are often based on the same locally sourced ingredients, such as olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and anchovies.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a refreshing and remarkably popular soup that’s enjoyed worldwide but is originally from Spain. The chilled soup features a blend of raw vegetables, primarily ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and garlic, which are pureed until smooth.

A touch of olive oil and vinegar are often added to create a delightful balance of tangy and savory flavor. The soap is typically enjoyed alongside meals but can also double as a snack when thickened with bread.

Salmorejo

Salmorejo

Some people might think that gazpacho and Salmorejo are the same thing. Yet, they’re actually not the same and have a few differences between each other.

While both of them are tomato-based soups that originated in Southern Spain, Salmorejo has a characteristic creamy texture and bright orange color.

This is because Salmorejo will include bread as a part of its main ingredients. However, like gazpacho, it’s often garnished with bell peppers, garlic, and diced cucumbers.

Albondigas Soup

Albondigas Soup

Albondigas Soup is a comforting soup dish that features fluffy meatballs simmering in a savory broth. The meatballs themselves are crafted from ground beef seasoned with various spices like oregano and cumin, although some variations use ground chorizo for added flavor.

The meatballs are accompanied by a tomato-based broth with plenty of cooked vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. It’s also typical to season the dish with garlic and cilantro to give the dish an added depth of flavor.

Caldo Gallego

Caldo Gallego

Caldo Gallego, also known as Galician Broth, is a traditional soup originating from the Galicia region in northern Spain. The base of the broth is usually made of white beans along with potatoes and various greens, such as turnips and cabbages.

Traditionally, ham slices, chorizo, and other types of sausage are included for a savory kick. However, this addition is optional and some variations might use bacon or even skip meat altogether.

The dish is often served warm as an appetizer during lunch, but it can also be enjoyed as the main course alongside other tapas.

Ensalada de San Isidro

Ensalada de San Isidro

Ensalada de San Isidro is possibly one of the most popular salads among the locals in Spain. The Madrid-based dish is one of the few salads that can also be served as a main dish along with bread and beer.

The popular salad features shredded tuna fish (typically from cans) garnished with romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, green pimento-stuffed olive, black olives, onions, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and hard-boiled eggs.

The dish is served cold and is one of the healthiest salads in Spanish cuisine, as it’s rich in proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, fibers, minerals, and vitamins. Preparing the dish is fairly simple and it typically takes around 15 minutes.

Ensaladilla Rusa

Ensaladilla Rusa

Ensaladilla Rusa translates to “little Russian Salad”, and while this dish truly originated in Russia, the dish is one of the most widely consumed dishes in Spain. Similar to the Ensalada de San Isidro, this one is also served cold, but it’s typically enjoyed as a side dish rather than a main course.

This potato salad can be prepared using a variety of ingredients and has several versions, but the most popular one contains diced potatoes mixed with cooked peas, diced carrots, tuna, olives, hard-boiled eggs, roasted peppers, and mayonnaise.

Pipirrana

Pipirrana

Pipirrana is an Andalusia-based salad that also has plenty of variations depending on where it’s eaten.

The original recipe typically contains tomatoes and cucumbers typically with a dressing of olive oil and vinegar in addition to diced scallions or onions in addition to peppers and slices of bread soaked in the salad’s liquid.

Starters, Sandwiches, Sides

Starters, Sandwiches, Sides

Side dishes and appetizers, commonly known as tapas, are the cornerstone of Spanish cuisine and make up the majority of what an average Spaniard eats throughout the day.

This is because the Spanish culture is big on sharing and engaging in conversation while dining, but more about that in the food culture section.

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

Patatas bravas is one of the most popular tapas all across Spain. You can find this dish in homes as well as restaurants, bars, food stalls, and more. The Spain-native dish typically consists of deep-fried large potato cubes served in spicy brava sauce.

This sauce is made from olive oil, smoked paprika, and other additives and spices depending on the region. The dish is typically served warm in a small dish and may also contain a drizzle of Aioli sauce (cold garlic and oil sauce).

Jamón

Jamón

Jamon is one of the most widely recognized food items that hails from Spain, which is a type of dry-cured ham that goes into a wide range of tapas but can also be enjoyed on its own. It’s typically a hind leg cut into extremely thin slices.

The ruby-red meat boasts a complex flavor profile, ranging from salty to nutty depending on the variety. The Iberico de Bellota is considered the most prized type of Jamon, which comes from acorn-fed black Iberian pigs, resulting in a richer taste and super buttery texture.

Chorizo

Chorizo

Chorizo is one of the most popular types of sausages in the world, but its origin is actually from Spain where it enjoys a special popularity. The cured sausage shines as both a delightful tapa and a versatile ingredient in many dishes.

Unlike other sausages that are eaten whole, this one is also sliced into thin pieces over cheese and bread or crumbled into stews and paella to infuse dishes with its savory and smoky taste and add remarkable depth to the flavor profile.

Pimientos de Padrón

Pimientos de Padrón

Pimientos de Padrón, also known as Padrón peppers, are small green peppers originating from Galicia in northwestern Spain. They’re a popular tapa item and are typically around 2 inches long and have a bright green color.

These peppers are picked unripe and grilled in hot oil with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. The special characteristic of these peppers is that some of them are hot while others are mild, with a heat level similar to Mexican Jalapenos.

Croquetas

Croquetas

Croquetas are simply “croquettes” in Spanish. While the dish is originally from France, it stands out as one of the most widely established tapas in traditional Spanish cuisine.

Croquetas are typically crafted as bite-sized deep-fried balls from a rich béchamel sauce (a roux of butter, flour, and milk) that are breaded and flavored with various ingredients. In Spain, croquetas can also be enjoyed with a dip or filled with various ingredients, including jamon or seafood.

Pulpo Gallego

Pulpo Gallego

This one directly translates to a Galician-style octopus. The dish is often considered a tapa when prepared in small quantities. However, it’s often enjoyed with sliced cooked potatoes and smoked paprika to complement the flavor.

The main star of the dish here is of course, octopus, which is caught on the coasts of Galicia and has a surprisingly tender texture and mild taste, similar to crabs and scallops rather than squid.

The exotic dish is fairly easy to prepare, as it requires few ingredients. However, cooking the octopus may take some practice to achieve the ideal texture without overcooking.

Pan con Tomate

Pan con Tomate

Pan con Tomate, literally meaning "bread with tomato" in Spanish, is a delicious tapa or appetizer originating from the Catalonia region.

The standout feature of this tapa is how easy it is to prepare, as the simplest version of the dish simply contains a slice of bread with grated tomato pulp seasoned with garlic, vinegar, and some olive oil.

You can also add extra ingredients to the dish, such as slices of anchovies to make the dish extra salty.

Pintxo

Pintxo

In the Basque region, where pintxos originally come from, the word “pintxo” is simply equivalent to tapa. However, in other parts of Spain, the word is used to describe pintxo gilda, which is a specific type of skewered anchovie.

One of the most popular pintxos you may find in the Basque Country is dates stuffed with blue cheese. The dates are then wrapped in local bacon and baked until creamy and gooey on the inside.

Bocadillos

Bocadillos

A bocadillo is simply a Spanish sandwich but is designed to be quite simple, with the main purpose is to savor specific ingredients. In Spain, one of the most popular types of bread is known as “barra de pan”.

This long crusty bread can be sliced and stuffed with all kinds of fillings, such as Jamon, anchovies, fried squid, tomato and garlic, and potato omelets.

Tostas de Tomate y Jamón

Tostas de Tomate y Jamón

This one directly translates to toasted tomato and jamon, which is a remarkably popular combination similar to pan con tomate.

Crusty bread is toasted until golden, then rubbed with garlic and juicy tomatoes followed by a generous topping of jamon for a savory tang. It’s a quick and savory tapa that is loved by everyone and can be found everywhere from homes to bars and street food stalls.

Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo, meaning "shrimp with garlic" in Spanish, is a simple yet flavorful tapa but can also be enjoyed as a main course. In this dish, fresh shrimp are fried in olive oil with plenty of sliced garlic to create a slightly spicy and fragrant sauce.

A touch of chili flakes and sometimes dry sherry or sherry vinegar is added for extra depth. The dish comes together quickly, and the leftover garlicky oil is perfect for dipping, which is typically enjoyed with the previously mentioned barra de pan bread.

Boquerones en Vinagre

Boquerones en Vinagre

Boquerones en Vinagre is another Spanish classic tapa, which literally translates to “anchovies in vinegar”. As the name suggests, this one has quite a strong kick and is typically enjoyed alone or with barra de pan bread.

The anchovy filets are typically marinated in vinegar and olive oil mixture until their color changes to white. Minced garlic and parsley are also added for additional flavor, and the dish is usually served chilled with an extra drizzle of olive oil alongside beers and soft drinks.

Bread, Pastries, Dessert

Bread, Pastries, Dessert

In addition to all the delicious savory dishes featured on this list, many Spanish desserts and pastries achieved international fame, thanks to their taste and versatility. In this section, we’ll cover some of the most popular ones you must try.

Churros

Churros

These delightful pastries are a common sight in Spain as well as other places around the world. Churros are simply long golden fingers (also as a loop in Spain) of fried dough, dusted with cinnamon sugar.

The churro dough is quite airy and light, which makes its crispy exterior even more satisfying when you take a bite. In Spain, churros are traditionally dipped in hot chocolate sauce and are enjoyed at any time of the day.

Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana

Food lovers might find this dessert strikingly similar to French crème brûlée, and with good reason. Crema Catalana boasts a luxuriously silky smooth custard base, flavored with lemon or orange zest for a touch of citrusy brightness.

The base of this creamy delight is usually made from rich egg yolks and milk, but the magic truly lies in the caramelized sugar layer on top, just like its French counterpart. The only difference here is that Crema Catalana is lighter because it uses milk instead of heavy cream.

Tarta de Queso (Basque Cheesecake)

Tarta de Queso (Basque Cheesecake)

Basque cheesecake offers a rustic alternative to New York-style cheesecake. It features a visually striking burnt caramel-colored top, which results from the baking technique used to prepare the cake.

The cake has an incredibly light and fluffy interior, although it’s not overly sweet like traditional cheesecake.

In fact, the natural flavor of cream cheese appears in this cake more than standard cheesecake. The delightful dessert is typically paired with sherry to add a touch of sweetness.

Leche Frita

Leche Frita

Leche Frita is a truly unique and delicious Spanish dessert. What makes this dish stand out is how it transforms simple ingredients like milk and flour into delicious desserts that taste quite unique and flavorful.

The main ingredients are thickened into a ball-shaped dough and flavored with cinnamon and lemon. Once the dough reaches the right consistency, it’s coated in a lighter batter and deep-fried until the exterior is crispy.

As you bite through the crispy shell, the dessert reveals its warm, soft, custard center, which is delicious and remarkably enjoyable with coffee drinks.

Secret Recipe Tips to Take Your Spanish Cuisine to the Next Level

Secret Recipe Tips to Take Your Spanish Cuisine to the Next Level

Now that we’ve covered the most popular dishes you shouldn’t miss, this section will help you take your Spanish cuisine experience to the next level.

While the following tips are easy to implement, you’ll immediately notice the remarkable impact they’ll have on the quality of the dishes you make. Let’s check them out.

Olive Oil Quality Matters

Olive Oil Quality Matters

Extra virgin olive oil is the foundation of Spanish cooking and can be found in main dishes, tapas, salads, and even some desserts.

While there are plenty of options out there, you should stick to high-quality options and avoid generic supermarket brands, as they can make a world of difference in your dishes.

Invest in Authentic Ingredients

Invest in Authentic Ingredients

A sprinkle of Spanish paprika or a pinch of saffron might seem like minor details, but your dishes will hardly capture that unique essence if you use alternatives.

If you’re looking for the most authentic Spanish food experience, you should get your hands on some authentic ingredients to taste the difference.

Prepare Sofrito Beforehand

Prepare Sofrito Beforehand

While sofrito is commonly associated with Latin America, it actually originated in Spain. Preparing a batch of delicious Spanish sofrito and keeping it in a fridge will save you a lot of time and will make it much easier to whip up some Spanish delights.

Always Choose Fresh Ingredients

Always Choose Fresh Ingredients

One of the secrets of Spanish cuisine is that it relies on locally grown, freshly picked ingredients. That’s why canned and frozen ingredients can’t truly offer this unique flavor, especially for seafood.

Whenever possible, try to seek out fresh seasonal produce, meats, and seafood.

Patience Is an Important Element in Spanish Cuisine

Patience Is an Important Element in Spanish Cuisine

Many Spanish dishes benefit from slow cooking or simmering. Others may also require some resting time after cooking, such as Paella. Avoid rushing the process and embrace the slow and steady approach to enjoy the full depth of Spanish flavor in your meals.

Beverages

Beverages

Spanish cuisine also includes a variety of colorful and refreshing traditional beverages with iconic flavors. You can enjoy these drinks on their own or alongside various meals and tapas for an authentic Spanish experience.

Granizado

Granizado

Granizado is a delightful shaved ice drink that is highly popular during hot summer days all over Spain. The delicious drink is made with water, shaved ice, and blended fruits, which also include fruit syrups.

The most popular flavors in Spain are tangy ones, such as lemon and orange, but you may also find other varieties.

Sangría

Sangría

Sangria is perhaps the most internationally recognized Spanish drink, which is a festive punch traditionally made with red wine, chopped fruit, and sweeteners.

The crowd-pleaser drink has vibrant colors and is often shared at parties as a refreshment and can be mixed with other spirits.

Cava

Cava

Cava is a sparkling white or rosé wine produced in specific regions in Spain, following a designated method that is fairly similar to French Champagne. However, this one uses different grapes and has a unique acidic flavor.

Tinto de Verano

Tinto de Verano

At first glance, tinto de verano may look similar to Sangria, but the two drinks are not the same. This one is much lighter and simpler to prepare, as the wine here doesn’t necessarily contain fruit slices like sangria.

Queimada

Queimada

This fiery beverage is another unique addition from Galicia in northwestern Spain. Queimada is a strong alcoholic punch traditionally made with a grape brandy called “aguardiente” in addition to sugar, lemon peel, and coffee beans.

What makes the drink unique is how it’s prepared and presented, as it’s set ablaze, creating a characteristic blue fire.

Rebujito

Rebujito

Rebujito is a light and bubbly Andalusian cocktail commonly enjoyed in Spain in warm weather. It combines dry white sherry like fino sherry, with lemonade, Sprite, or lemon soda. This creates a fizzy and bubbly drink with a noticeably sweet and zesty taste.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Making Spanish food is all about its ingredients, and luckily, many of these components are widely available, so you won’t have a hard time finding them. Here’s a quick look at some of the Spanish food essentials.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil is simply the heart and soul of Spanish cuisine. Extra virgin olive oil is used for everything from sauteing, frying, and drizzling to making sauces and dressings. The distinct flavor of locally sourced olives gives it a unique richness that works perfectly with countless dishes.

Saffron

Saffron

Saffron is often dubbed as the “red gold” of Spain, and for a good reason. Spain doesn’t only produce the world’s most premium type of saffron, but it’s also a staple ingredient in many Spanish dishes and recipes, giving them an iconic flavor and unique color.

Paprika

Paprika

Paprika is often called “Pimentón” in Spain. While many countries around the world use paprika in cooking, no country uses it as much as Spain, especially the smoked variety. The delicious peppery flavor simply gives a unique depth to tons of dishes.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic and Onion

Like many countries around the world, the foundational duo of garlic and onion is quite common in Spanish cooking, as they’re used to form the base of sofrito, which is added to the vast majority of savory dishes across the country.

Olives

Olives

As one of the largest producers of high-quality olives, it’s common to find this versatile ingredient in every tapas table. Olives add a salty pop and textural contrast to a wide range of delicious salads and various stews.

Sherry Vinegar

Sherry Vinegar with Olive Oil and Spices

Sherry wine is exclusively produced in Spain, especially in the Jerez region. Besides its white wine form, it’s also turned into a unique type of vinegar, offering a complex tanginess and adding depth and richness to various marinades and vinaigrettes.

The unique vinegar is commonly used with seafood dishes and is considered a great alternative to balsamic vinegar if you’re looking for something different but still delicious.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are among the essential cornerstones of Spanish cuisine, as they’re used in various ways, whether on their own or with other elements. You can find them in sauces, stews, paellas, or as the star ingredient like in gazpacho and pan con tomates.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices

Besides the main ingredients, Spanish food uses plenty of herbs and spices to give their food a unique flavor while maintaining that delicious Mediterranean quality. Here are some items to consider while seasoning your Spanish dishes.

Parsley

Parsley

Parsley is a fresh and vibrant herb that is commonly used as a garnish as well as a flavoring agent. The peppery flavors play well with a huge variety of dishes, especially meaty ones.

You can also find it in salads as well as Latin dishes that are occasionally enjoyed in Spain, such as Argentine chimichurri salsa.

Rosemary

Rosemary

The highly aromatic herb with a distinct piney scent is a perfect match for roasted vegetable and potato dishes, which are quite common in Spanish cuisine.

Additionally, you may find rosemary alongside grilled meats and in Spanish varieties of bread, which gives a whole new level of depth to these dishes.

Bay Leaf (Laurel)

Bay Leaf (Laurel)

The slightly bitter leaf is known for its highly aromatic flavor, which is why it’s quite common in Mediterranean dishes, including many recipes in Spanish cuisine.

Like in many cuisines, bay leaves should be removed before serving, as they can disrupt the digestive tract.

Ñora

Ñora

Ñora is a type of unique dried and smoked pepper that grows locally in Spain. The special type of pepper has a fruity and earthy depth that works extremely well in various dishes, including paellas, sauces, and stews.

Since it’s hard to find these peppers outside of Spain, you can use smoked paprika as a substitute, since ñora isn’t spicy. However, the flavor may not be as complex and nuanced as the original.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

The hot chili pepper is often used to flavor dishes in Spain. In fact, it’s more commonly used than any other type of pepper in Spain and is often used to make chili flakes and spicy powder mixes that are used to spice up various recipes.

Spanish Food Culture

Spanish Food Culture

Spanish culture has a major influence on how locals consume food, which can be noticed in various traditions and how meals are structured. To help you understand more about this cuisine, let’s end with a brief overview of the Spanish food culture and eating habits.

Eating Habits

Eating Habits

Spaniards are known for their love of food and take pride in their local cuisine, which they favor over any kind of foreign dishes and recipes.

In fact, even the foreign dishes that are commonly enjoyed in Spain typically have a unique touch that makes them slightly different from the original recipe.

As previously established, it’s quite common among Spanish people to use fresh ingredients purchased on the same day. This includes bread, which typically accompanies every meal in Spain.

One particular aspect that you may notice about Spanish desserts is that they tend to be mild in sweetness, so you may increase the portions of sweeteners if you have a sweet tooth.

Meal Structure

Meal Structure

Spanish meals differ from many cultures in structure and emphasis. Unlike places with a large, singular dinner, Spain’s biggest meal is lunch, typically enjoyed between 2 and 4 pm.

This multi-course lunch often starts with a lighter option followed by a heartier main dish that features fish, meat, or paella.

Tapas, or appetizers, are the cornerstone of Spanish food culture and don’t abide by specific meals. These small savory dishes can be enjoyed as a snack, alongside meals, or as the main dishes themselves.

Their convenience and simplicity cater to Spain’s late lunch and dinner times and allow for a highly social dining experience, which is an essential aspect of Spanish rituals, especially outside the metropolitan areas.

Dinner is usually a lighter meal enjoyed late at night, which typically includes leftovers from dinner or Bocadillos (Spanish one-ingredient sandwiches.)

Etiquette

Etiquette

Spanish dining etiquette leans towards relaxation and enjoyment. In other words, while common decency is essential while enjoying meals, they’re treated as a social gathering where exchange of conversation is common and even encouraged.

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