'Pintxos'. Bilbao, Vizcaya

Gastronomic dictionary



Aceite de oliva (olive oil)

Olive oil is the olive's juice. It is the only kind of oil that is obtained by purely mechanical means, without heating processes that could destroy its nutrients, and without using solvents, which are bound to leave residues. Because it contains monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid), olive oil is the most suitable fat for consumption. Its effective action against cancer, heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases in general make olive oil an essential ingredient in the Mediterranean diet.

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Almuerzo (lunch)

The most important meal of the day in Spain. It is had between 13.00 and 16.00 h. In rural areas it is usually had earlier, while in the big cities it is usually delayed. Although it traditionally had three courses – soup, vegetables and either meat, eggs or fish – plus dessert, nowadays the quantity is usually reduced, sometimes even giving up one or more courses.

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Anchoas (anchovies)

Anchovies are known as anchoas in the Basque Country, bocarte in Cantabria and boquerón in Andalusia. They are small fish, about 12 cm in length, with an elongated body that is very tasty. Anchovies can be found fresh, preserved in jars or tins, or salted. The best time to eat them is from April to July, but they can be found in the market all year round. They are prepared in many different ways: in oil, in vinegar, fried, opened-up in the shape of a fan, rolled in a batter and fried, etc. When preserved, bled, cured in brine, and covered with oil, they are known as anchoas (anchovies).

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Angulas (elver)

Elvers are the young of the eel, measuring from four to six centimetres in length. They are caught as they reach Spanish shores from their migration journey from the Sargasso Sea. Elvers are a very coveted Spanish speciality. They are usually salted and covered in olive oil, served in a salads, with other fish, or enriching numerous recipes, like Hake in Green Sauce.

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Anís

An alcoholic beverage made by macerating aniseeds in spirits. The alcoholic content varies, from very light in the ones known as anisete, to very high (up to 80º) in the driest kinds, which are typical of Chinchón and some other towns in Andalusia. It is considered to be a digestif and it may also be consumed as a soft drink when mixed with water and ice, the result being a whitish drink known as palomita (little dove).

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Aperitivo

Soft-drink, or alcoholic beverage, that is had before a meal. The appetisers that are served along with the drinks – the traditional tapas – are also known as aperitivos.

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Atún (tuna)

Of all tunny-like fish that are caught in Spanish shores, the most remarkable species are tuna and bonito. Tuna is caught in the waters near the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is a very large fish, with deep red-coloured flesh that is very tasty. Tuna is a very important fish from the economic point of view because of the high demand for it in the Japanese market.

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