Traveling through Spanish food (photo essay)

Traveling Through Spanish food on this week’s Cultural Tidbits Monday! As you already know, on this mini series, I’ll be featuring some of my favorite ethnic foods and restaurants through educational (and quite yummy) photo essays. Let’s get started!

When someone utters “Spanish food,” what comes to mind? Typically, it is a misused term in America, where all kinds of Latin American dishes are called “Spanish food” indiscriminately by gringos and even American Latinos alike. Properly, though, Spanish food refers to cuisine that comes from that European nation that was once filled with Conquistadors heading West to discover (and dominate) the New World. Now, are you ready to discover some Iberian delicacies?!

Spanish food Museo Del Jamon

AHHHHHH!!!!!!!! *runs inside*

Bocadillos

First, I’ll start with bocadillos (or “mini bites”). Every time I visit Spain, I must visit El Museo Del Jamón (literally “The Ham Museum”) to eat a tumaca, crosán mixto and cañita at least 3 times a day. Daily. During my whole stay. Just ONE EURO each. My body basically requires them! Everyone at Museo Del Jamón knows me by name (and country) now: “La María, directamente de PUERTO RICO!” such a lovely thing to hear as I walk in =D

Spanish food Museo Del Jamon

You have arrived to your destination: Museo Del Jamón

Spanish food Museo Del Jamon

Me @ El Museo Del Jamon (Ham Museum) - Plaza del Sol, Madrid. Most bocadillos & cañita (beer) for ONE EURO. Naturally, the best Spanish place EVER.

Spanish food Museo Del Jamon

My favorite Spanish snacks (from left): A half-destroyed tumaca, piece of bread with garlic, olive oil tomato sauce & topped with Serrano ham * Chorizo tapas, sweet and salty varieties * Crossán Mixto, elongated croissant topped with Serrano ham, your choice of Spanish cheese & olive oil. Lastly, cañitas (beers) to wash it all down. Can I go back NOW, please?

As you can see, I have a slight obsession with Jamón Serrano *grins* umm, yeah. It is basically one of the most amazing pieces of meat your mouth will ever touch. Savour. Enjoy. I chew each bite ever so slowly. It is one of those heavenly things that you just can’t explain, but rather have someone eat in order to understand

Spanish food Museo Del Jamon

Where the magic happens (Museo Del Jamón display)

Spanish food Jamon Serrano

Glorious, glorious ham (Photo: Hector Garcia, Wiki Commons)

Another important ingredient in most of my favorite bocadillos and Spanish tapas in general are cheeses: Such a delightful variety! Combine them with amazing Jamón Serrano or Ibérico and…

Spanish food - Serrano ham and cheese tapas

...transport your palate to the 8th Heaven (Photo: Juan Fernández, Wiki Commons)

Spanish ham and cheese

Spanish ham and cheese - ate them all!

Wine, cheese and Serrano ham party, Madrid

Me (far right, red top) at a wine & cheese (and Serrano ham) party in Madrid, Spain

Other typical ingredients of tapas are olives/olive oil, garlic, onions, chorizo (hot, mild or sweet), almonds, chillies, parsley, basil, orégano, paprika, peppers and tomatoes.

Spanish food - tapa de patatas

Patatas (potato) tapas - by Tamorlan, Wiki Commons

Tapas: Not just appetizers

In Spain, tapas are not simply appetizers, though. In fact, it is quite common to group several tapas and make up a whole meal. Furthermore, the same items may be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or a midnight dinner! There’s a very blurred line of things to eat in the morning or at 10 PM, which is another thing I loved about Spain since I’m the gal that typically has pizza for breakfast because she is too hungry for anything less ;)

Spanish food - meatball tapas

Tapa de albóndigas (meatballs), typical on a cool autumn night or winter day (Photo: Tamorlan, Wiki Commons)

eggplant with salmorejo tapas

Deep-fried eggplant with salmorejo dip sauce (tomatoes, bread, oil, garlic, vinegar). Photo: Tamorlan, Wiki Commons

Another quintessential Spanish food is paella. This dish, a hearty rice concoction, is nothing short of amazing as well. There are many different types, so I recommend a culinary tour around Spain to sample them all!

Valencian paella

Valencian paella (Photo: Wiki Commons)

paella negra

Paella negra - black rice paella (Photo: Ralf Roletschek Marcela, Wiki Commons)

Shellfish paella

Shellfish paella (Photo: Manuel M. Vicente, Flikr)

Now that I have given you a broad overview of Spanish food, I will share my favorite dishes of Ceviche, a chain of Spanish restaurants in the state of Florida. Surprisingly, very very good chain! I have visited both the Tampa & orlando locations and my favorite tapas tasted exactly the same. I go there often and absolutely love their sangría, too!

piquillos rellenos

Piquillos rellenos: Roasted red peppers stuffed with ground veal and mild chorizo sausage, served with a Spanish sherry sauce. Photo not from Ceviche, but dish looks very similar (Photo: chefclaudianotebook.blogspot.com

Champiñones de Sevilla

Champiñones de Sevilla: Four types of mushrooms sautéed with sherry over goat cheese and toasted bread, which is not pictured (Photo: tiffanycsteinke, Flikr)

That shall be it for part four of the mini series, Traveling through food! Hope I piqued your interest (and appetite) for Spanish food further and you venture out to try something new.

Spanish sangria

have a Spanish sangría - SALUD! (Photo: Frank K., Flikr)

Have you ever had Spanish food? What’s your favorite dish?

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10 thoughts on “Traveling through Spanish food (photo essay)

  1. I studied abroad in Madrid in 2009 and absolutely fell in looove with the food there! My favorites: paella, croquettas, tortilla, patatas bravas and patatas aioli! So good! I’ve made tortilla, paella and patatas bravas at home from scratch but it’s still never as good as it was in Spain!

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