Spain’s cuisine (or cuisines) is influenced by contributions made by the various regions that make up the country. Spaniards are very traditional people and everyone really loves promoting—and I mean LOVES promoting— the typical foods from their pueblos (hometown). It’s easy to find certain foods typical of, say, Madrid in another region, and vice versa, because people keep passing on their traditions. The only difference—if any—is that they might add a different “touch” to that certain dish possibly to blend in with the food from that region (kind of like Tex-Mex).
I had the opportunity to try several typical dishes from different regions. Some, I was already familiar with and they had become a favorite long ago. Others (which did not make my top five but are still really good), such as Málaga’s Pecaítos fritos (fried fish), Burgo’s Cordero asado (roast lamb) and Ciudad Real’s Potaje (a type of stew), I tried them for the first time and really liked them.
But for my top five favorite, this is what I’ve picked.
Typically from Madrid, cocido is a traditional stew which main ingredients are chickpeas, vegetables and a lot of meat. The variety of vegetables includes potatoes, carrots, garlic and onion; and the meats are usually pork belly, bacon, smoked chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), chicken, beef marrow bone—or other bones and meats people may prefer to add. Mmmmm
I don’t think Paella needs any introduction; it’s one of Spain’s most famous foods—and it is for a reason! It is so popular that people from around the word consider it a national dish of Spain; however, in Spain, they recognize it as an original dish of the region of Valencia.
Paella is a moist rice dish, which ingredients vary depending on whether it is a Seafood or Meat Paella. Me? I prefer my paella mixta (mixed); it is a combination of seafood, chicken (or any other meats of preference) and vegetables.
Cochinillo, or roast suckling pig, is a typical dish from the region of Castilla y León, especially Segovia. It is made so that it is crispy on top and tender and juicy inside. It is seasoned overnight for the most part, roasted whole and served as is. I think that’s the part that scares a lot of people.
I grew up on this kind of food. It was mostly saved for special occasions, like Christmas. Maybe that’s the only reason I like it so much. Seeing a pig’s head on your table, staring at you and all, it’s not appealing. I agree. But it is soooo good…it’d be a crime not to try it (if you’re as carnivorous as I am). Besides, you don’t necessarily have to eat cochinillo whole; you can just order pieces, like a leg, rib or shoulder.
Preparing and making cochinillo is not that easy. It requires special skills to make a darn-good, finger-licking cochinillo. And not all restaurants know how to make it either. For a better tastier experience, I suggest finding a restaurant that has top-notch ratings/reviews.
(Watery mouth right now)
A typical dish of Asturias. Fabada is a very earthy, very heavy and filling hot bean stew. Believe me on the fillingpart. You won’t need an appetizer or a side dish with a Fabada. You’re set for the day! Though it is typically from the region of Asturias, they serve Fabada at many different restaurants throughout Spain.
I don’t know if other people would agree on this, but Castilla La-Mancha’s potaje is like a smaller version of Fabada.
So what’s in a Fabada? It is made with large white beans, pork shoulder or belly, chorizo, morcilla, ham or bacon and seasoning. I tried Fabada in Oviedo—with a piece of bread and a sidra (cider) on the side!
By the way, can you tell I like stews? 😛
They say the Rabo de toro(Oxtail) dish originated in Andalucía, especially originated in Córdoba, and people started cooking the tail of a freshly-killed bull in the bullfight. (I really wish I didn’t know an animal was killed in the making of my food, but it’s the circle of life.)
Rabo de toro is not exactly a stew, but it’s cooked like one and it can be served in a bowl with some broth or on a regular plate with just enough sauce to keep it moist. It’s delicious!
I would post the recipes for these dishes, but it’d feel unnatural coming from me as I can’t cook at all! 🙂