Spanish gastronomy is as varied as delicious. Even though most traditional Spanish dishes are strongly influenced by the proximity of the coast, the characteristics of Spain’s cuisine vary a lot from one region to another. A common fact all around the country is the pleasure of cooking and eating.
A meal is something that requires a special moment for spaniards, so they take the necessary time to prepare it and to enjoy it. Food is a huge part of their culture and they have a strong conscience of this. Spanish use food as an excuse to gather together and as a way to honor their guests at home.
Regional food is much influenced by factors such as climate, soil conditions and history. Nevertheless, “Tapas” are the typical Spanish food that represents the country worldwide. Tapas are appetizers or snacks usually served before the main meal, but currently tapas’ popularity has increased, appearing new restaurants only specialized in tapas cuisine. This traditional food is also known as “Picadas” and it can be seen nowadays in Fairs, Conventions and welcoming banquets in Spanish events.
Located in the metting point of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic (with mountain and plain landscapes), Andalusia has an endless cuisine which is a mixture of the Roman and Moor legacies. Excellent quality fish, fresh tropical fruits and a marvelous olive oil are a must in the local gastronomy where Gazpacho (the famous cold tomato soup), Pescaito (floured fish fried in olive oil) and Salmorejo (a cream made of tomatoes, bread, garlic, oil and vinegar) delight both residents and visitors.
Catalonian cuisine uses the typical Mediterranean ingredients, such as oil, grapes, vinegar, garlic, herbs and tomatoes, but it has been strong influenced by French and Italian cuisine. Beyond these general characteristics, Catalonian gastronomy is very varied, changing notoriously from the Costa Brava to the Pyrenees. Catalan Cream (custard topped with hard caramel), Vic Salchichon (sausage) and Botifarra are some of its most remarkable dishes. The region of Aragón, also in the North, is home of the Serrano ham which can be found all over the country.
The central regions of Madrid, Castille and Extremadura enjoy the products of big and small game on their typically midland cuisine based in meet, pork, rabbit, lamb and cheese. The region of Madrid in particular has been strongly influenced by other regional culinary habits. Cocido (meet and vegetables stew), Manchego Cheese, Toledo´s Marzipan (sweets made of almonds and sugar), roasted lamb and pork and Tortilla Española (potato or sausage omelet) are only some of the jewels that central Spain has to offer.
Galician food is a tourist attraction itself. More than 300 gastronomic “fiestas” are held in this community to celebrate its culinary variety. Seafood, cheese, beef and almonds have a strong presence in the gastronomy of Galicia. Octopus prepared in varied ways, empanadas (filled pastries) and “caldo gallego” are only a few of its worldwide famous dishes.
Valencia has a strong culture of rice and sea food being "Paella" its maximum exponent, which can be cooked only with seafood or with meet and pork as well. Valencian food provides the typical Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and fruits which abound on the zone.
Flemish eggs, Asturian Cider, Sangria and Basque Marmitaco (fish and potato stew) are also very well known exponents of the Spanish cuisine.
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