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The cuisine of Spain

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Tapas, gazpacho, and the Mediterranean diet are just a few of Spain’s famous culinary exports. The quality, creativity, and above all, flavour of Spain’s cuisine have earned it international fame and it is now one of the country’s main tourist attractions.  Did you know Spain is the world’s biggest olive oil exporter, and one of the leading exporters of wine? Do you know what makes Iberico ham unique? Could you see yourself making a traditional Spanish potato omelette? Spain brings both tradition and innovation to its cuisine, and its climate and terrain have made it Europe’s market garden. This is a place to enjoy good, delicious, healthy food.

What are Spain’s most beloved food products?

There is a huge variety. Some of the best-known are olive oil and Iberico ham. Olive oil is the liquid gold that adds a subtle or strong flavour to many Spanish recipes. And as it is rich in oleic acid, it’s also healthy and helps to balance cholesterol. Iberico ham is only produced in Spain, from pigs which graze roaming free in unique environments providing a completely natural diet, based mainly on acorns.

Iberian cured ham

Spanish cooking is particularly healthy thanks to its use of fresh ingredients. It produces excellent fruit and vegetables: bananas, citrus fruits, strawberries, grapes, apples, pears, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and so on.Seafood and especially shellfish, meat, a wide range of cheeses, full-flavoured seasonings like paprika and saffron, and carefully selected wines round out the list of ingredients that are the essence of Spain’s cuisine.You can find out much more about food and wine on this website.

Spanish cuisine

What are the most traditional local specialities in Spain?

Every place you go will have its own local dishes. The most famous is probably paella (originally from the region of Valencia), and the most popular tapa in the country could be tortilla de patatas - potato omelette.The best-known casserole-type dishes include cocido and fabada. Tender roast meats are popular, such as cochinillo (suckling pig) and lamb, known as ternasco in Aragon and cordero elsewhere. Some of the most notable seafood dishes include the little fried fishes or pescaíto frito of southern Spain, and pulpo a la gallega: octopus with paprika. If you’re visiting in summer, a refreshing gazpacho or salmorejo is a must. And the most traditional holidays, Christmas and Easter, also have special delicacies for the occasion.You can see some of the most popular recipes here, and find out a bit more about the regional cuisine of each area.

What are tapas?

These little nibbles and portions of food are a traditional accompaniment to drinks in many bars in Spain. They range from a simple dish of olives, sausage, or chips to elaborate culinary creations chosen from a menu.In Spain the custom is to go out for tapas with friends, wandering from bar to bar to enjoy the specialities each one has to offer. Do you know which tapas you’d like to try? You can see the most popular tapas here, and see the most famous neighbourhoods for going out for tapas at holiday destinations.

Selection of tapas

Why is Spanish cuisine healthy? The Mediterranean diet

Spain is one of the leading exponents of the Mediterranean diet, which is based on olive oil, fresh vegetables, and other fresh seasonal food. This healthy, flavourful tradition has earned Spanish cuisine UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. Another feature of the Mediterranean diet is that every meal can be a social occasion. Going out for tapas is a great way to try it out for yourself.

Mediterranean diet

International recognition for Spanish chefs

In recent decades, the world’s most prestigious publications have given their culinary awards to Spain. At present, Spain’s restaurants boast over 250 Michelin stars, and around ten of them can usually be found on the list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants”.

The Spanish chef Martín Berasategui cooking