Food Culture in Spain

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The meat is cooked in huge wood-fired ovens and is so tender it is cut with the side of an earthenware plate. The Spanish version of ratatouille turns up all over the country in different guises, but is most typical in the towns and villages across the plains of La Mancha, south of Madrid. Onions, garlic, courgettes, peppers and tomatoes are slow fried in olive oil — this is not a dish that likes to be rushed.

It's usually served as a starter, sometimes with fried eggs or chorizo, but is great as a side dish too. Try making our pisto con huevos — serve this traditional Spanish recipe with rustic bread and a fruity red wine. Most of it is made in the small town of Jijona in the province of Alicante, using locally-grown almonds mixed with honey and egg white.

Do you agree with our selection or have we missed your favourite? Share your must-try dishes below Dinner ideas Chicken one-pots Dinner for two Healthy dinner Quick family meals see more Dishes Pasta Soup Pie Casserole see more Everyday Freezable Batch cooking Cheap eats Leftovers see more Ingredients Fish Fruit Meat Vegetables see more Occasions Sunday lunch Dinner party Afternoon tea Easy entertaining see more Seasonal Spring Summer Autumn Winter see more Vegetarian Iron-rich Vegan Vegetarian barbecue Vegetarian party see more More recipe ideas Cheap eats Courses Slow cooker Cheap cut see more Christmas biscuits Christmas gifts Festive desserts Vegetarian Christmas see more Home Recipes Not sure what to cook?

Inspire me. Don't leave Spain without trying Gazpacho The reddest, ripest tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, bread, peppers and cucumber are blended until silky smooth, then chilled and poured into bowls or glasses. Gambas al ajillo You walk into a tapas bar, the barman is handing a customer an earthenware dish of sizzling prawns, the tantalising aroma hits your nostrils and you just have to order some too.

Patatas bravas Perhaps the most ubiquitous of tapas, patatas bravas vary quite a bit around the country, but all versions involve chunks of fried potato. Cochinillo asado People might claim they are going to Segovia to see its astounding Roman aqueduct, fairytale castle or elegant cathedral, but really all that is just to build up an appetite for lunch. Pisto The Spanish version of ratatouille turns up all over the country in different guises, but is most typical in the towns and villages across the plains of La Mancha, south of Madrid.

Gambas pil pil are prawns sizzling in hot oil with garlic and guindillas tiny hot chillis Misconception about tapas.. You can have several different tapa to make a pick and mix meal, you can have a 'medio racion' if you want a light bite, or a 'racion' for a plateful. Makes a nice change to rice.

A list of 10 top foods is not enough for the so many delicious dishes of the Spanish cuisine. I would say that the list should also have: 1. Chickpea-based stew from Madrid that has meat and vegetables. It is a lot of food in one serving. Usually served for lunch so you may take a siesta afterwards? Caldo gallego. Traditional soup dish from the community of Galicia. It has white beans, potatoes, greens and maybe pork, chorizo, ham or bacon.

Fabada asturiana. A bean stew from the community of Asturias.

Spanish cuisine

It is made with white Fava beans, pork or bacon, blood sausage, and chorizo. Paella marinera. Of the so many different types of paellas from the community of Valencia, this one has seafood. It may have any combination of shrimp, squid, mussels, lobster, clams, etc. Boquerones en vinagre. Usually served as a tapa appetizer , it is made of fresh anchovies boquerones marinated in vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Calamares a la romana. Fried calamari squid.

To make things worse, there was no unity in the foreign policies of the various kingdoms, which enjoyed considerable internal and external autonomy despite being united under one crown. The whole century was characterized by a succession of domestic revolutions. As a consequence, the north of Catalonia Roussillon and Cerdagne was lost and the borders between the two countries shifted upward to the Pyrenees.

At the same time, Portugal obtained its independence. The Habsburg dynasty ended and paved the way for a restless eighteenth century, marked by the War of the Spanish Succession. On the other, the rest of Spanish society still clung to traditional dishes and practices. Among the foods introduced from Spain were sugar and eau-de-vie, both already used by Spanish people during the Middle Ages, as well as New World products such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, maize, and chocolate, which became progressively popular in France, together with other exciting infusions such as tea and coffee.

In the eighteenth century there was a certain continuity as far as the abundance of meat is concerned, although poultry consumption increased to the detriment of other meats. Fish was hardly eaten mainly when Lent made it mandatory , whereas sweet desserts were abundant. In the Cantabrian area, apple cider became an important drink. Peppers had been accepted relatively easily in the seventeenth century, but other foods, such as tomatoes and potatoes, were steadily incorporated in the diet only from the eighteenth century onward. Once the onion, garlic, and tomatoes are ready, cover them with the stock and leave on the burner to thicken.

Let it cook on the stove top, in the earthen casserole, on medium heat for about 15 minutes and serve. This phenomenon acquired extraordinary dimensions and was accompanied by a notable decrease in mortality rates and a rise in birth rates. In this sense, the nineteenth century may be considered the century of urban development, industrial projection, migrations, and the beginning of tourism, hotels, and catering.

The nineteenth century, just as the last, started and ended with a crisis and a war. The need for modernization in a country that was anchored in the old regime resulted in a clash between reformation initiatives and absolutist monarchy. The domestic social and economic crisis was aggravated by the loss of the American colonies in and it eventually led to a progressive liberalization and the beginning of an innovative industrial revolution in the northern regions of the peninsula especially in Catalonia, with the development of textile industries, and in the Basque Country with the rise of heavy industry.

Progressists, democrats, and liberals overthrew Queen Isabel II in Subsequently, there was a short period of rule under King Amadeo I of Savoia, followed by the First Spanish Republic, which lasted from to The nineteenth century was characterized by urban growth and the increase of the industrial proletariat, especially in the most industrialized 22 Food Culture in Spain areas of the peninsula Catalonia, the Basque Country, and the Cantabrian Cornice.

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Production centered on textiles Catalonia , the metal industry Basque Country , and mining Asturias, Cantabria, and other areas. At the end of the eighteenth century, the country had already received European immigrants: namely French and Italians who had immigrated to Catalonia and had left their mark in cooking, as many of them were renowned caterers.

From the end of the nineteenth century onward, a new migratory phenomenon began and would continue and increase in the twentieth century: people started to move from the poorest and most rural areas of the peninsula toward the industrialized regions. With immigration, cities such as Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid experienced an unprecedented growth. Catalan cooking is, perhaps, the regional Spanish cuisine that has created its own tradition, incorporating and adapting Italian pasta dishes.

Top 12 Spanish Foods You Must Try in Spain – Popular Dishes & Recipes

Such tradition spread from the typical inns fondas and, above all, from the Italian-style restaurants of nineteenth century middle-class Barcelona, fond of cannelloni and opera. Certainly, cannelloni were a typical dish of family meetings. Special pasta recipes already existed in Catalonia in the nineteenth century, but pasta was more commonly eaten by laborers and craftsmen.

As the century advanced, however, the folkloric boom led to the appreciation of popular, mainly rural, culture and within this, gastronomy obviously played an important role. When the meat is browned, add the chopped onion, peas, beans, whole garlic cloves, and, last the chopped tomato. Add the water to the mixture and bring to a boil. Add the rice and put on high heat.

After a few minutes, add the saffron. The rice must cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes uncovered until all the water has been absorbed. Once ready, cover the paella with a cotton cloth, let it sit for 5 minutes and then serve. Note This recipe follows the traditional Valencian preparation. Yet, in non-Mediterranean regions in the north of Spain, some common products were integrated into the food system much later.

Rice, for instance, was not customarily used there until the end of the nineteenth century and some vegetables, such as carrots, eggplants, and zucchini, were eaten only well into the twentieth century. The colonial policies of the new century focused on Equatorial Guinea and especially on Morocco. The industrializing process and urban development continued, and so did the large domestic migratory movements to Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, and other large cities. Europe fought from to in World War I, while Spain remained neutral. In , following the example of contemporary Italian fascism, a fascist-like dictatorship was established in Spain.

Its downfall in led, some time later, to the fall of the Monarchy of Alfonso XII and the establishment of the second Spanish Republic. The Republic was founded on democratic and progressive principles and it introduced a new constitution and universal suffrage, as well as Statutes of Autonomy for Catalonia, the Basque Country, and, later on, Galicia.

The climax of fascism in Europe and the domestic weakness of the Republic contributed to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War — , the most painful event in twentieth-century Spain. The war ended with the victory of the national faction, led by General Francisco Franco, and with the establishment of a new dictatorship that would last 40 years, until his death in The period after the war was rather hard.

Between the s and the s the north of the peninsula reached its apogee in terms of development and industrialization, and tourism became one of the most important economic sectors of the country. After the death of Franco, Spain became a democracy again, and the monarchy was restored with a new constitution under King Juan Carlos I Historical Overview 27 From this point on, Spain underwent an overall process of territorial restructuring and state decentralization; Catalonia, the Basque Country, and Galicia recovered their autonomy, and at the same time 14 other autonomous regions were created.

Spain experienced unprecedented economic growth and became one of the engines of the current European Union. The differences between the high and low classes and between rural and urban milieu still existed during this period. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War had gravely affected the Spanish social framework. A large portion of society suffered from hunger, especially the lower strata of the population, as scarcity and rationing became the norm during the war years. Food shortage also extended to the postwar period and under the dictatorial regime, the country found itself politically and socially isolated from the rest of Europe and the world at large.

At the popular level, however, and without considering the remarkable scarcity during the Civil War and the postwar periods, there was continuity as to the kind of foods eaten: wheat and its by-products especially bread , vegetables, olive oil and lard, pork by-products and sausage, some meat, herbs parsley, garlic, onion , and so forth. Cooking methods also remained unaltered.

Food was boiled, stewed, and fried to prepare the traditional dishes: soups, stews, hotpots, migas popular dish with the main ingredient of breadcrumbs , and porridge. The typical menu of the urban middle and lower labor classes might be as follows: vegetables, pulses, fruit and salads, some meat broiled, grilled, in the form of sausage, or as an ingredient for stews , sardines and cod, olive oil, abundant bread, and eggs.

The quantity and quality of meat proportionally increased with family income. All these factors considerably altered eating times, commensality, and type of foods, the main change being a shift of the main meal to lunchtime. Spaniards started to go to bed later and to eat out more frequently, especially at lunchtime, as a consequence of their working schedule and their distance from work. As the living standard increased, evening meals in restaurants became more common too. Even so, those who eat out usually do so choosing traditional menus which include a main course, second course, dessert, and coffee , instead of consuming snacks and sandwiches, as is common in northern European countries.

The time devoted by Spanish workers to lunch break usually between and is also usually longer than that of their northern counterparts. Most products are available all year round due to various factors, such as safety and hygiene regulations, food preservation technologies, independence of agriculture from local cultivations and seasons, effective and large-scale distribution, and generalized reduction in price of certain foods.

The drawback of such development is that some products have lost variety, quality, and taste. Consumption of commercial cakes and pastries has also increased considerably. Meat and dairy consumption, in contrast, has increased and, to a certain extent, these foods have contributed to homogenizing the Spanish contemporary food system with that of the rest of the Western European countries. Historical Overview 29 Fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, and wine are also consumed in large quantities.

Fish consumption, despite a slight, variable fall, is rising again. In the last years, wine consumption, except for that of better quality, has fallen slightly, especially among younger generations, whereas there has been an increase in the consumption of other alcoholic drinks, such as beer. NOTE 1. The following entries provide a brief, and inevitably incomplete, panorama of such foods. Whenever possible, their origin, preparation, importance, social function, and other details have been provided.

Grains, especially wheat, have been a staple in Spain and the Mediterranean, as well as in most parts of Europe. Wheat was and still is the most important grain, followed by other minor grains such as oats, barley, and rye. Pasta Pasta consumption in Spain is approximately As mentioned, Catalan cuisine is, perhaps, the only Hispanic cui- 32 Food Culture in Spain sine that has created its own tradition, changing and adapting Italian pasta preparations, creating recipes of cannelloni and pasta that are genuine local innovations cannelloni recipes, for example, are very important in Catalan cuisine, especially during the most important celebrations of the year, such as Christmas, for example.

Pasta also became a common food in other areas of eastern Spain. The use of noodles as a main element in soups and stews has become, in the last century, quite common throughout the country. Rice Rice consumption in Spain is relatively high: 15 pounds per person per year, and many dishes in Spanish gastronomy are based on rice. In Spain, rice crops extended from the eastern areas to the rest of the peninsula.

The Valencia region produces a large part of the rice cultivated in Spain, and it is one of the only rice-growing regions in Europe to have a designation of origin D. Historically and up to today, wheat has been an essential and protected crop and is produced both for domestic consumption and export. To them, symbolically speaking, bread, together with wine, represents the body of Jesus, Major Foods and Ingredients 33 Different kinds of bread. Bread has always been a staple in the European food system. Bread consumption in Spain is approximately pounds per person per year.

There are also many local forms and specialties, some mixing different ingredients: olive oil, herbs, spices, cheeses, and sausages e. Other popular breads include the French baguettes—very similar to traditional loaves—or Italian ciabatta. Many dishes, such as gazpacho, many soups and salads, and especially migas, a popular dish whose main ingredient is breadcrumbs, are eaten in various Spanish regions.

In restaurants, no bread and butter plate is normally provided. Bread is set directly on the table. Sometimes bread is also served or used as a popular kind of appetizer, with olive oil and salt. PULSES Beans Although there were already some species of beans in Europe, from the sixteenth century onward, after the contact with the Americas, various new species were imported through Spain.

The use of these pulses, from the so-called green and tender beans to dried beans, easily spread throughout the whole territory. Symbolically associated with the dead, fava beans were mostly eaten by the lowest classes. Chickpeas Chickpeas have been cultivated since ancient times. They were characteristic of the diet of humble people and their use became widespread in the various Spanish cuisines.

Chickpeas are one of the main ingredients of the popular stews in almost all Spain. Lentils Lentils are among the most ancient cultivated plants and a rich source of protein and iron. There are lentil salads and tasty lentils with cream. Their consumption, together with that of other pulses, is widespread. Peas The cultivation of this Mediterranean plant is very ancient and, throughout history, peas have been eaten by both the rich and poor.

In Spain few local strains remain. Instead, mainly European or American strains are cultivated. They belong to the family of thistle, and are considered as a healthful food. Artichokes are common in Spanish gastronomies, and they are eaten boiled, baked, in salads, fried in batter, or in a vinegar or oil marinade.

Asparagus Asparagus was held in high esteem in Al-Andalus. Those cultivated in the north of the peninsula especially in Navarra are particularly famous. Although asparagus appears in some areas in March, it is best when picked in April or May. Asparagus green or wild asparagus is eaten both fresh and cooked, especially in omelettes, and boiled asparagus preserves are common all over Spain. Little by little, they were introduced into the various cuisines and spread from the Mediterranean area to the Atlantic and northern peninsular regions. Carrots are common ingredients in cocidos stews , soups, creams, and in salads.

Turnips are not as widely used as carrots. Their freshness made them a common food during hot summers. Cucumbers are related to melons which, later on, acquired the status of fruit and they are eaten both fresh, in salads, and as ingredients of traditional peninsular dishes, such as the popular gazpacho andaluz. Eggplants Eggplants were introduced by the Arabs both into Spain and the south of Italy. In Spain, eggplants were not popular because physicians considered them quite unhealthy.

There are, however, a wide variety of eggplant dishes hot or cold, grilled, fried, in salads in all Spanish cuisines, which still retain or are variants of the culinary tradition of the Al-Andalus origin. Lettuce and Endive Lettuce and endive are herbaceous plants grown on irrigated land and are mainly eaten raw, especially in salads.

They are considered a fresh and light food and are believed to have sedative properties. They are an essential element of a number of salads and side dishes in Spain. Although the United States is the biggest producer of lettuce, in Europe the main producers and consumers are Spain, Italy, and France. Mushrooms Although they are neither vegetables nor herbs, mushrooms are very common in Spanish cuisines.

Most of them appear at the end of summer, but their quantity and variety increase at the onset of autumn, a wet, but not yet cold, period. All the peninsular territory boasts a wide variety of mushrooms, some of which such as the amanita muscaria are highly toxic. Mushrooms are collected directly from their wild habitat and are the ingredients of numerous stews, but they are also eaten alone, especially braised, during popular festivals.

Among the most renowned mushrooms are champignons, boletus, delicious lactarius, and French mushrooms. Some varieties are also used for curdling cheese and making other dairy products, such as cuajada milk curd , a typical dessert of the north of the Peninsula. Major Foods and Ingredients 37 Baskets with different kinds of mushrooms.

Onions and Garlic Onions and garlic are very popular all over Spain. As for their culinary applications, they are many and widespread: onions are eaten raw, in salads, candied, in vinegar or oil, in soups, fried, boiled, baked, and so forth. Garlic, like onion, is thought to have many therapeutic properties. Fried Eggs with Garlic A very easy and tasty popular recipe. Fry the eggs as usual, and serve with the fried garlic cloves. Peppers Peppers came from the Americas and were introduced into Europe through Spain in the sixteenth century. The current varieties in Spain are the result of the adaptation and evolution of this plant to the Mediterranean and European regions.

Thus, although they are related to chili peppers, they are seldom hot. Potatoes Potatoes are tubers of Peruvian origin. Baked, fried, pureed, as an accompaniment to other foods, or as a main dish, potatoes are an essential and widely eaten foodstuff in Spain. Many popular dishes, such as tasty fried potatoes and fried eggs fried always in olive oil , or boiled potatoes and other vegetables, and potato stews, are eaten frequently in Spanish homes both at lunch and dinner time.

Pumpkins and Zucchini Pumpkins and zucchini are native to the New World, but similar species of gourds had been cultivated in Spain since ancient times. They have been used for human consumption, livestock feed, and ornamentation. Pumpkin and zucchini can be boiled, stewed, made into soup, or more recently, prepared as creams. Spinach The Spanish word espinacas stems from the Arabic ispinah; the Arabs, in fact, imported this plant from Persia.

This vegetable, which became fa- Major Foods and Ingredients 39 miliar through its consumption during Lent, when people abstained from eating meat, is considered a healthful and inexpensive food. Wash the pepper, remove core and seeds, and chop it. Peel and chop the onion and the garlic cloves. Mix all the vegetables in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, previously soaked in 1 teaspoon water. Dress with oil, vinegar, and salt to taste.

Serve chilled. Observations The quantity and the ingredients may vary according to taste. If a more liquidy gazpacho is preferred, cold water may be added while blending the ingredients. Rub grilled bread with garlic halves, then rub tomato halves into bread—really mash them on there—the goal is to soak the bread slices with this tomato juice. Discard tomatoes, and drizzle bread with good olive oil to taste, then sprinkle with some salt. Later, you can top with your favorite complements: ham, cheese, chorizo, and so forth.

It is considered digestive and is the main ingredient and name of a traditional Spanish liquor. Cumin This herb grows profusely in the Spanish mountains. Due to its Major Foods and Ingredients 41 abundant spontaneous growth, cumin used to be considered of scarce economic value—this herb appears in some popular Spanish expressions to convey the idea of something that has very low value.

It is employed as an essential garnish and as an element of various sauces e. Cloves Cloves are currently used as intense flavoring for various aromatic dishes and stews. Its scent and flavor are hard, penetrating, and sweet. Therapeutic virtues are attributed to cloves, particularly for toothaches. Honey Records show that honey was used in Spain since the Neolithic period in order to preserve fruits and other foods.

In ancient times, honey was considered the sweetener par excellence and it was so until sugar became predominant. Mustard Mustard sauce is used in Spain mainly as a dressing for red meats and, lately, for fast food or frankfurters sausages. Pepper Pepper is one of the most highly valued spices in the world and was considered to have medicinal properties.

Whereas most European languages have inherited the name of this spice from the Greek peperi and the Latin piper, the Spanish term stems from the Latin pigmentum, which also gave origin to the word pimiento, which refers to the vegetable green or red peppers.

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Major Foods and Ingredients 43 Saffron Saffron is one of the most used natural colorings and the most expensive one, too. The process whereby this spice is obtained the stigmas are removed from the blossoms and dried is carefully and entirely done by hand. Its high price is, in fact, a direct consequence of this labor-intensive process, usually carried out by women in the countryside.

Salt Throughout history, salt has been a crucial element for food preservation and a qualitative improvement in the food system. Fish, which had been a product for immediate consumption, became a trade item and it became possible to preserve it for long periods. Sugar The cultivation of the sugar cane, which was imported from Asia at first, was introduced by the Castilians and the Portuguese into their Atlantic islands the Canary Islands and Madeira , and later on into the Caribbean and Brazil. It subsequently replaced honey as a sweetener for cakes, chocolate, coffee, and teas.

Sugar is mainly available white refined: as granulated, superfine, and powdered sugar and brown unrefined. Granulated white sugar is commonly used for baking, preserving, and table use brown sugar is also offered on the table as an alternative to white sugar. Superfine sugar is used especially in baking, and powdered sugar is used for frostings and decorating desserts. Artificial saccharine or sweeteners and sugar substitutes are also available and 44 Food Culture in Spain are becoming more common in homes and particularly in bars and restaurants. Vanilla Vanilla, which is native to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean area, started to be extensively cultivated and used from the nineteenth century onward.

Vanilla is now popular and profusely used ice creams, cakes, etc. Spain is one of the largest wine producers and consequently, the production of vinegar is also very important. Wine vinegars from Jerez are particularly aromatic and internationally renowned. Cider vinegar is made in the north of Spain. Apples are mainly cultivated in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, in the area stretching from Catalonia to Asturias and Galicia. They are commonly eaten as a dessert fresh or cooked , or used as an ingredient for certain desserts and cakes.

Cider, a popular drink of low alcoholic content, is made from the juice of the apple. Grated apples are popularly believed to be a good remedy against constipation. Capers Capers were very widespread in the south of Europe and have been used the same way as olives. They are usually eaten as an appetizer, macerated in vinegar, and in salads.

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Occasionally, they can be also found in some stews and sauces. Major Foods and Ingredients 45 Carob Pods Throughout history, carobs have been widely used as a food in the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean area in general. These fruits have been and still are a popular, inexpensive chocolate surrogate. Cherries The Romans improved cherry cultivation—also in Spain—although these fruits grew wild in most parts of Europe.

Cherries are very popular, and are known to be diuretic and depurative, especially the Mediterranean varieties. The cherry picking begins in April, and the fruit is ready to eat from the middle of May onward. Chirimoyas The fruits of the chirimoya tree come from Central America. These berries have a green rind and a white pulp, sweet taste, and a slightly rough texture. Chirimoyas are cultivated in warm countries and their cultivation in Spain, especially in the south, has been particularly successful.

Food culture in Spain

Citrus Fruits Oranges were bitter in ancient times; the sweet fruit that is known nowadays is the result of a later evolution of orange crops which took place from the sixteenth century onward. The Mediterranean area, and Spain in particular, is now one of the largest European producers. Oranges are widely eaten for dessert and their freshly squeezed juice is very popular. Oranges have also been profusely used in some dishes such as salads: Andalusian style, for example and as a garnish.

Orange trees, as well as lemon trees, also turned into ornamental plants and they still are, in many streets and squares or in private and public gardens, especially in the Mediterranean area and the south of the peninsula. Lemon juice mixed with water is a traditional refreshing drink. Grapefruit has not prospered much in Spain until recent times and is less important than oranges and lemons.

Dates Dates are the very sweet fruits of the date palm. Normally eaten dried, they are a sweet dessert but are also eaten as an appetizer or, like plums, are used as a garnish for certain meat stews. Figs Mediterranean peoples have eaten the fruit of these trees throughout history. Figs are eaten both fresh as a dessert and dried as a garnish for certain meat stews, cakes, and sweet desserts; and also macerated in liquor. Grapes and Raisins Together with wheat and olive trees, grapes belong in the famous Mediterranean trilogy. Grapes, apart from providing the juice from which wine is made, are also eaten as table fruit, although in the past they were scarce in areas where they were not produced, such as those European regions that were further north.

Grapes are produced almost all over Spain, where almost every region has a wine with designation of origin. They are eaten as dessert and may occasionally be found in some stews, especially meat- and poultry-based ones. Dried grapes, known as raisins, are also very popular and have a sweet and intense taste. Must, which is pressed grape juice not yet fermented into wine, is drunk fresh. It is said that this celebrating will bring luck during the incoming year. This tradition is still popular nowadays and is followed all over the country.

Major Foods and Ingredients 47 There are many different varieties of grapes, and every wine is made with a special grape or, normally, with a special combination of different grapes. Melons Melons are related to cucumbers, but the current sweet variety of melons are more recent and have come to be considered a fruit rather than a vegetable, and they have acquired a large size through specialized cultivation.

Melons and watermelons are very popular, and they are commonly eaten as a dessert. Melons, except for watermelons, are thought to be best eaten during the day. Their skin is hard and smooth, like virgins are. They are prisoners in my hands. Eager to touch the moon, They go out in their grey cloaks at night, But as they watch the moonlight shining, Their skin turns into gold. Olives are the tasty fruit of olive trees. They are small, though their size varies depending on the species, and they are usually eaten after being treated in solutions of water, salt, and other ingredients such as aromatic herbs, spices, vinegars, etc.

Olives are usually various shades of green, black, or brown. They are popular as an appetizer and a garnish and can be commonly found in salads and some stews. Olive oil, which is so famous and commonly used nowadays, is extracted from olives. However, over the centuries olive oil became the predominant edible fat and spread toward the inland and northern regions of the peninsula. Olive oil can also be said to mark the difference between the Mediterranean—Catholic or Orthodox—territories, where the olive oil is predominant, and the Protestant north, where the use of animal fat and butter becomes predominant.

There are many different olive oils, depending on the different varieties of olives and different processes used. Spain is with other European countries such as Italy, Greece, and France, but also other Mediterranean countries such as Tunisia one of the most important producers of olive oil in the world. Peaches are a popular food and they are used in the elaboration of Major Foods and Ingredients 49 well-known desserts, such as peaches in wine or in syrup.

The Spanish name albaricoque is of Arabic origin. Both fruits, especially peaches, are commonly used in the making of jam. Pears The Romans also introduced pear cultivation into the Iberian Peninsula. Pears are mainly eaten fresh as a dessert or in salads, although they are also used in some stews, mostly meat stews. Pineapple consumption has spread over the last century, and this fruit is now eaten both fresh and preserved in syrup.

Plums In Roman times, plums were called cereola, which later gave the Castillian name: ciruela. The laxative properties of plums are well known. They are eaten fresh, dried, and also macerated in liquor. Occasionally, prunes dried plums are used as a garnish for certain meat stews, particularly in Catalonia. Pomegranates Pomegranates are produced from the pomegranate tree. They are round, some varieties are sweet and others bittersweet, and their red pulp contains many seeds. In Spain, pomegranate crops can be found in the Mediterranean area in general.

The sweeter varieties are eaten fresh, ei- 50 Food Culture in Spain ther plain or as ingredients of certain popular recipes with wine, sugar, and cinnamon, for example. From the most bittersweet and bitter varieties a refreshing syrup is made, which is known as grenadine. It is mixed with water or other drinks. Prickly Pears The spiny fruit produced from the nopal or prickly pear cactus are called prickly pears.

They originated in America, and when they started to be cultivated in southern Spain, their growth became nearly spontaneous, and they spread across the Mediterranean area as well. Strawberries Small-size varieties of wild strawberries were eaten in Europe in the past, but they became popular when larger-size American varieties started to be imported.

Strawberries are very common ingredients of preserves and jam, and nowadays they are usually eaten as dessert and used in various cakes and sweets. They are particularly utilized as a natural food for hogs, which once grew wild in the surroundings of farms. Almonds Almonds are among the most popular nuts and Spain is one of the largest almond producers, together with Italy, the United States, Portugal, Major Foods and Ingredients 51 and Turkey.

Production is mainly centered in the Mediterranean area and the Balearic Islands. The city of Reus, in Catalonia, is the most important world trade center of almonds. Almonds are eaten whole, toasted, or salted. They are also eaten as an appetizer, toasted, and salted. Chestnuts Since ancient times, chestnuts have been an important food in the Spanish diet, especially in the north of the Peninsula. Chestnuts are still used in many homes in regions such as Galicia—one of the large chestnut producers in Spain.

Chestnuts are harvested in autumn September—October. Traditionally, with the onset of winter, around All Saints Day November 1 , chestnut sellers make their appearance in all Spanish cities, offering brazed chestnuts and sweet potatoes. Hazelnuts Hazelnut trees are largely cultivated in the Mediterranean area. Hazelnuts were already well liked by the Romans, and they are currently eaten toasted, as an appetizer or snack, as well as in various stews, especially also in the form of picada crushed with other ingredients, such as olive oil, garlic, and parsley.

In Spain the largest hazelnut production is centered in the Mediterranean area, especially in Catalonia. There, the city of Reus is, as in the case of almonds and nuts, the capital of hazelnut international trade. Lupines Lupines are soaked and commonly eaten in many Spanish regions as an appetizer or a snack, and they are usually eaten after being treated in solutions of water and salt. These nuts are eaten natural or salted, mainly as an appetizer. Among nuts, peanuts have a relatively low price, unlike almonds and hazelnuts. Pine Nuts Pine nuts are the seeds of the pine tree.

Food culture in Spain / F. Xavier Medina. - Version details - Trove

They are small and savory and are eaten fresh or toasted. The price of pine nuts is usually higher than that of other nuts. Their shells are reddish and they are green inside. Fresh pistachios have a very pleasant taste. Like other nuts, dried pistachios are eaten as an appetizer or a snack and can be preserved for a long time.

Walnuts Walnuts are produced from the walnut tree and are very popular either plain or as ingredients of various dishes, stews, sauces, and desserts. To the same family belong other species, such as the valued spice known as nutmeg. In Spain, milk has been historically regarded as a complete food and it has been consumed whenever possible, especially by children. In any case, it is worth remembering that the populations that have developed higher tolerance to lactose are the northern ones, while the tolerance degree decreases as one moves toward southern Europe.

Spain, one of the most mountainous states of Europe, is a large milk, cheese, and dairy producer, despite the fact that upon entering the European Union, where milk is an excess product, Spain was obliged to reduce milk production. Cheese Cheese is a product made from curdled milk, which may subsequently be treated in various ways drying, salting, smoking, ripening, etc. In Spain, cheese is mainly made from goat, cow, and sheep milk. More than different kinds of cheese are made all over Spain. Some of them are of very high quality, belong to the local or regional gastronomic heritage, and are very much appreciated and popular all over the national territory, even beyond Spanish borders.

Every designation of origin is ruled by a board that sees to it that the product manufacturing norms are maintained unaltered. Yogurt Yogurt is a dairy product obtained from the fermentation of milk, which has been previously pasteurized and concentrated. Today, it is industrially made from cow milk although not exclusively and, especially from the second half of the twentieth century on, it has become an element of the Spanish diet in its own right. It is raised industrially and sold at a very affordable price, although this has not always been so.

Only 50 years ago, chicken was a scarce and appreciated meat that the lower classes reserved for special occasions. It was eaten by ill people because it was considered a healthful and light food, especially if it was boiled, and it was also eaten for festivities, even as a Christmas dish. There are countless chicken-based recipes. Ham Ham, the salted and dried leg or shoulder of the pig, can be also considered a kind of pork sausage. In a farmhouse, there is very often a room, windy and dry, where the cool winds blow through, curing hams.

It is cured like a country ham, yet it has percent less salt and is never smoked. But the king of Spanish hams is the internationally renowned pata negra ham. Pata negra ham came, normally, from animals that were only fed acorns bellotas to fatten them up before they were butchered. Acorns provide this bellota ham with a wonderful marbling and give them their fabled texture, smell, and taste.

As an added bonus, the fat is unusually high in oleic acid, which is known to lower cholesterol levels. Bellota ham should be produced from Iberian pork or other Spanish breeds. Horse and Foal Although the meat of horses and of their young has been traditionally eaten in the Iberian Peninsula, it is not very popular nowadays. For many centuries, horses were, in fact, very useful for transportation and as cart- 56 Food Culture in Spain animals. Horsemeat consumption was reintroduced into Europe in the nineteenth century.

Despite the fact that it was not as popular as it is in other European countries, such as France and Italy, horsemeat has been eaten in Spain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and today it is still possible to purchase it, although it is not commonly eaten. Horsemeat, which is slightly sweeter than beef, is appreciated for its nutritional qualities. Oxen, Cows, Bulls, and Calves The cow and the bull are, respectively, the female and the male of their bovine species; the ox is a castrated and tame bull; the calf is the young of the cow that still has milk teeth.

Though less tasty than beef and ox meat, veal is preferred because it is more tender; its offal is also eaten a well-known dish is made from veal tripe in almost all Spain: the so-called callos: chopped tripe stewed with a sauce and other ingredients. Together with ox, veal is the most eaten of the four meats listed here.

Bulls are wild, grazing the pastures of the southern half of Spain especially in Extremadura and Andalucia and their meat used to be sold and eaten after the animal had died in the bullring. It has never been a popular meat, and its consumption has decreased through the years. Today it is still a rather uncommon food. Put them into a pot and cover in cold water and vinegar.

Let them sit for 15—20 minutes and drain. Cover them with fresh water again and heat until the water boils. Remove the pot from the heat and change the water once more. Add the parsley, bay leaf, garlic, half onion keep the other half for frying , chili peppers, ham, ham bone, and chorizo and morcilla sausages and cook on low heat for about two and half hours. Add the resulting sauce to the tripe stew, add salt to taste and let simmer on low heat for about another 15 minutes.

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Partridges and Quail Partridges are small game birds and their meat has been highly valued ever since Roman times. The most abundant species in the Iberian Peninsula is the red partridge. It was usually hunted with decoys, imitating the characteristic call. Partridge meat is usually left to sit for some time after the animal has been killed. Quail are also very popular. They are smaller than partridges and are usually seasoned with salt and pepper and baked. They are also used with their shells as a garnish for some dishes.

Lard was used for cooking in Spanish homes until the nineteenth century and even later, except during Lent, when it was replaced by olive oil. In Spain, nine main parts of pork meat can be distinguished: ham, sirloin, chine, ribs, shoulder, brisket, head, neck, and feet. Wild boars are all over the peninsula. Boar meat has a stronger taste than pork and it is considered tastier, although it is also tougher and must be cooked after being previously macerated, as in the case of other large game, such as deer.

Rabbit and Hare Rabbit meat is very popular and is widely eaten all over Spain. Rabbit meat is best eaten during the winter, preferably when the animal is between three and nine months old. Hares, which are also small game, but much larger in size than rabbits, are common in Iberian mountains. Unlike other meats, hare meat must be eaten fresh, soon after the animal has been killed, and the hare must be young, between three and six weeks old.

However, the meat keeps its quality until the hare is more or less one year old, and, in the case of female hares, up to their second year of age. Sausage Pork has traditionally been an important food supply in Spain through the centuries, because it could be preserved all year long. Sausage consists of pork seasoned with spices, dried or fresh, which can be preserved for Major Foods and Ingredients 59 Market stand with different embutidos pork products and sausages: ham, chorizos, etc.

Stag and Deer Deer venison is among the most appreciated wild game meats and has always been abundant in the Iberian Peninsula. Traditionally, deer hunting during the Middle Ages and the modern age was the prerogative of the nobles. The favorite parts of deer are the hind legs, although the ribs and fore legs are also appreciated. Deer meat is usually roasted, but it is often left to sit in wine, vinegar, oil, or other ingredients onion, bay leaf, herbs, berries, etc. Fallow and roe deer venison are usually more tender than stag venison.

Deer meat is not eaten much nowadays, and the law currently protects some species. In any case, venison is quite common on the market, especially during the large game hunting season. Its price is higher than that of farm animals in general. The custom of having turkey for Christmas lunch or dinner dates to the eighteenth century and originated in France. In Spain, however, turkey did not become a Christmas Eve food until the nineteenth century, and even today, this practice is not very common. Cod is a special case. This is due to the fact that cod was salted, which guaranteed its preservation for a long time.

In Spain two different names are given to anchovies, depending on whether they are fresh or cured. Anchoas are anchovies that have been blended and salted. Fresh anchovy recipes are famous in areas that are very different, such as the Basque Country and Andalusia. It was a favorite of ancient Greek and Roman cooks.

Codfish Bacalao Cod bacalao cannot be found in the waters close to the Spanish coasts. Basque whalers came across it while chasing whales in the North Sea, on their way to the coasts of Newfoundland. Cod is preserved in salt and it was and still is largely eaten and prepared in countless ways in the peninsula, both in Spain and in Portugal.

Cook it on low heat. Put some oil and three garlic cloves into a separate earthen skillet. Fry Major Foods and Ingredients 63 the remaining three garlic cloves in some oil in a frying pan and remove from heat. Cook on low heat, gently shaking the skillet until the sauce thickens, to prevent sticking. Add the frying oil that was left in the pan little by little as the sauce becomes thick about 15 minutes. Their names stem from the Latin anguilla whip , which alludes to their elongated shape. Elvers are currently considered a delicacy and are highly valued, especially in the Basque gastronomy.

The most famous hake recipes come from the Basque and Cantabrian areas hake with cider, hake Basque style, kokotxas, etc. Pressed and salted herring have almost always been popular and affordable for the common people. During the nineteenth century and part of the twentieth century, herring were still a common food on the humblest tables. It is renowned all over the peninsula, especially along the Cantabrian cornice.

Roast bream was and partly still is a traditional dish in many inner regions such as Castille and Aragon on Christmas Eve. Tuna are still an important ingredient in the contemporary Spanish gastronomies. Many exquisite ancient dishes, in their essence, are continued in current Spanish cuisines. These include salted tuna steak, preserved in oil, and mojama dried and salted tuna. Tuna has triggered the creation of many preserving industries: it is mainly preserved in olive oil.

Spain is the main consumer and exporter of tuna. Marmitako This typical Basque dish gets its name from the receptacle in which it is prepared: the marmita pot. Fry them on a low heat together with a garlic clove. Peel and chop the remaining garlic and the onion, fry them in oil, always stirring, to prevent burning.

Simmer for 20 minutes and add the fried peppers. Peel and dice the potatoes and boil them in a pot. Remove the skin from the tuna, cut it into chunks, and add these into the pot when the potatoes are nearly cooked. Five minutes later, add the fried vegetable preparation, the chili pepper, and the bread slices and let cook for another 20 minutes. Since prehistoric times, whale meat has been popular in all Atlantic Europe.

Whales provided meat as well as oil, skin, and fat. Basque whalers, who plied the northern European seas since in the Middle Ages, are legendary. From the late Middle Ages on, whale meat was commonly eaten not only in the Atlantic regions of Spain, but also the inner Meseta, where it was eaten smoked. In , Spain agreed to give up whaling before the International Whaling Commission. Pernod in France.

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Absinthe is a symbol of inspiration and daring, associated with the artistic life as it was in France in the nineteenth century and is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac. A ban on the drink was imposed in almost every European country and in the United States after World War I, except in Spain and Portugal, where absinthe has been always legal and produced following the traditional formula, even if it is not a popular liquor, as it was in France.

Then ice-cold water is dripped over the sugar and allowed to fall in beads into the drink. Absinthe is mainly produced in the Mediterranean area and the Balearic Islands. There are two main varieties of anise: dry and sweet. It has traditionally been consumed as a digestive drink, at the end of meals. Beer Curiously enough, the most ancient remains of beer in Western Europe have been found in the Iberian Peninsula: in Catalonia.

From the nineteenth century on, important beer breweries were created in Spain, and beer consumption started to increase. Beer really became established in the second half of the twentieth century and Spaniards are currently some of the largest beer drinkers in the Mediterranean area, although well behind central and northern Europeans. Spanish beers have a good reputation all over Europe. Brandy Brandy, a distilled form of wine, acquires a higher alcoholic content. Usually it is left to rest in wooden barrels. It is normally consumed at the end of meals or in bars and has turned into a typical accompaniment to coffee.

Unlike other similar spirits, such as French cognac, Spanish brandy has a characteristically dark color. The quality of Catalan cava is excellent and this wine is exported internationally. Some of the largest multinational sparkling wine companies are Catalan. Cava is also produced in other Spanish areas such as Aragon, Valencia, Extremadura, and La Rioja, but not in as large quantities and it is not as popular. This sparkling wine is a traditional drink on festive occasions. Chocolate Cocoa is native to the Americas, from where the Spaniards brought it into the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

It soon became popular, especially among the wealthy classes and the clergy. Chocolate spread swiftly as soon as sugar was added to its preparations. Chocolate became so popular in Spain that at the beginning of the eighteenth century there were already some factories that specialized in its production. When consumed as a hot drink, it was particularly appreciated thick.

When, in the eighteenth century, King Philip V sold the, until then, secret formula of chocolate, it became widely popular in the rest of Europe, especially through Italy and France. Despite the fact that the use of chocolate for cake making dates to as early as the modern age, chocolate bars, as they are eaten nowadays, were invented much later, in the nineteenth century. Aphrodisiac and invigorating properties have traditionally been attributed to chocolate and it is also considered to be a remedy against depressive symptoms.

Cider Cider is made from apple juice and is low in alcohol. In Spain, cider is mainly produced in the Cantabrian area, the most renowned ciders being the Asturian and the Basque ones. A soft and tasty vinegar cider is also produced. Coffee In the nineteenth century, coffee replaced beer and wine as a morning drink, providing a higher degree of alertness during the day.

Coffee is consumed in various ways in Spain: it is drunk plain and black, aromatic, and with abundant milk. Must Must is the natural juice obtained from grapes that is, it is not fermented or turned into wine. It is a very common drink, especially in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. Orujo Aquavit Orujo is a spirit distilled from the remains of the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes left after pressing. Orujo is traditionally homemade and has a high alcoholic content. The product distilled from sugarcane was commonly consumed in Cuba, and it was a handmade, bitter, and strong drink. Some of the most important rum distilleries today were created during the Spanish rule, just like other distilleries of the peninsula, which made rum from Cuban sugarcane the most ancient ones were also located in Catalonia.

Water Spain, as a member of the European Union, is subjected to a common legislation with respect to water production and commercialization. Major Foods and Ingredients 69 Spain, together with Italy and France, is an important producer and consumer of bottled mineral water. The main producing areas usually coincide with mountainous regions: Catalonia and Aragon, Andalusia, Galicia, and the Cantabrian area. Today, Spain has together with France and Italy some of the most valued wine designations of origin in the world. NOTES 1. The same word appears in various Romance languages.

Xavier Medina Barcelona: Icaria, According to the Roman author Pliny, piglets were ready to be consumed as early as four days after they had been born. See: Edo, M. Barcelona, October 3—5th, forthcoming. Maya, F. Cuesta, and J.