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It’s an obvious one, but a goodie nevertheless. Originating from Valencia, Paella consists of flavoursome rice and (traditionally) a mix of chicken, rabbit, snails and beans. But these days there are over 200 variables. I.e. anything goes.
Why try it? Because it wouldn’t be a Spanish holiday if you didn’t gain a few extra kilos in paella.
Where? The Central Market of Valencia. Work up an appetite perusing the extensive food stalls and then fill up on fresh paella – straight from the chargrilled pan.
Cold soup. Don’t grimace, it’s sublime. From Spain’s Andalusia region, Gazpacho is usually tomato based, full of vegetables and served cold. The perfect hot-weather soup.
Why try it? In summer, temperatures soar way above 28°C - something cool and refreshing is a welcome respite before your afternoon siesta.
Where? Try the Gazpacho at The Village Café in the small coastal village of Deià. Set within a stone courtyard and surrounded by flowering rock gardens, it’s the quintessential Spanish tavern.
But of course! When in Rome (but clearly we mean Madrid). Tapas is at the heart of Spain’s culinary heritage. A wide assortment of appetizers, snacks and tidbits, don’t leave without sampling chili garlic prawns, anchovies, olives and fried croquetas. And then there’s the squid…patatas bravas…fresh jamon… jalapeño poppers….
Why try it? Did we not mention the croquetas? Why wouldn’t you try it?
Where? Seen as we mentioned Madrid, seek out La Valencia restaurant; the very definition of traditional. The dry sherry trickles from the barrel, the tapas is basic but 100% authentic. They have a cat called Lola – she endures tourists much like the proprietors: with mild toleration. Order 'mojama' and attempt to look local.
Spanish chorizo is smoked pork sausage, fermented and/or cured so it can be eaten without cooking first. Often seasoned with pimentón – a smoked paprika – and a generous amount of salt, it makes a frequent appearance on the tapas list and its addictive spices really get the Spaniards in a spin.
Why try it? Chorizo makes everything better. Breads, pasta, salads... life. You'll see.
Where? The dark interiors of Can Paixano in Barcelona. When we describe it as 'dark' we mean it in a raw and authentic manner. Cheap, crowded and with an ambiance that packs more punch than its spicy chorizo.
5. Churros con chocolate
Deep fried pastry, Spanish style. Errr, yes please. In Spain, these sinfully sweet (and so fatty they'd make your doctor cringe) are commonly consumed for breakfast. And any country that promotes a donut-based breakfast is a country worth visiting in our book.
Why try it? It’s predominately long strips of donut, sugared and then drizzled in chocolate sauce (and they’re not shy with the sauce either). Need we say more.
Where? Casa Aranda, Malaga. Sit street side and dunk your just-fried churros into giant pots of molten chocolate. It won’t burden your budget either; not so great for your waistline but great value if you're tightening the purse strings.
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