The tumultuous history of the Iberian Peninsula means that its dishes are influenced by ingredients and techniques brought by the Moors, Visigoths and Celtic tribes as well as the Greeks and Romans. With the popularity of small plates on the rise in the U.S. and elsewhere, Spanish cuisine is finally getting a place on the international table. Here, a rundown of some of Spain’s most famous flavors.
Wines to try
There are almost three million acres of vineyards in Spain—that’s more than any other country. The most popular Spanish wine is perhaps the full-bodied tempranillo, grown in the central regions of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Sparkling white Cava is often served at weddings, parties and other festive occasions.
Paella – Native to Valencia, paella is a favorite main course for visitors and locals alike. Traditionally, the savory rice dish is seasoned with saffron and made with chicken, rabbit and vegetables, but seafood paella is another popular option near the coast.
Olives – Spain is by far the top olive producer in the world. The salty fruit is a common snack at bars and restaurants throughout the country.
Churros con chocolate – Some believe that shepherds invented the churro, as the paste-like dough is easy to mix and fry over an open fire in the mountains. Others say explorers brought the technique of frying dough back from the Orient—either way, they’re great when dipped in rich hot chocolate.
Tapas – Ordering a table full of tapas is a part of Spanish culture that no traveler should miss. Options range from the very simple—a dish of olives, some slices of mature cheese—to slightly more complicated assemblages of bread, cured meats and omelet-like tortillas.
What flavors of Spain do you most want to try? Tell us in the comments!