Spain is known for its cuisine which is very varied because of the different regions in Spain. However, there are a few staple Spanish food that is common to all regions, and food that you probably heard of and tasted in your own country.
Jamon Serrano is a country ham that is Spanish in flavor through and through. Spaniards love this particular food so much that you will never have a difficult time finding some to taste. Jamon serrano is available in most stores, grocers, delicatessens, bars, and restaurants.
Tapas is Spain’s version of an appetizer sampler dish, that is putting it in layman’s terms. It is a bit more elaborate though because it will have dips, canapés, fish, eggs, vegetables, and cheese. These tapas are usually accompanied by a glass of wine, and can actually be a meal in itself.Paella is a Spanish dish that is cooked and served in a paella dish. There are so many versions of paella, that it has become a chef’s option on toppings for his paella. The main ingredient and flavor of the paella comes from saffron.
If Italy has her pizza, and China has fried rice, then paella is Spain’s specialty.
When sampling Spanish food, you will find that there is usually a common thread of similar ingredients. These ingredients are: garlic and olive oil.
There are many kinds of olive oil now. There is even the extra virgin olive oil and the flavored olive oil which are both much more expensive than your regular vegetable oil.Other ingredients that are used in Spanish dishes are ham, cheese, seafood, sausages, legumes, and meat. Spanish normally prefer veal, pig and lamb when choosing for meat in their meals. There is also special Spanish sausages like chorizo bilbao and sausages with paprika.
The typical Spanish family would make their own cheese, which can be smoked or aged, depending on the family’s preferences. As for eggs, Spaniards have their own version of the omelet called Spanish omelet which has cheese, eggs, ham and sweet peppers.
The Spanish love to eat vegetables and fruits. You will always find fruits in a typical Spanish household. The common vegetables of a Spanish household is zucchini and eggplant.
Spain is one of the highest producers of nuts like the hazelnut, almond and walnut. This would explain why nuts are commonly found in Spanish deserts.
Very common also in Spain is wine. Table wine is part of all meals. Spanish like to drink their wine and prefer it over water. For them a meal is not complete without a bottle of wine.
When the Spanish eat, they like to take their time. Meals can last as long as 3 to 4 hours. Then, after siesta (afternoon nap), there is the afternoon snack called merienda. Here, the food served is not as heavy as a full meal, so you will see pastries, sandwiches, arroz caldo, and the delicious churros with hot chocolate.