Regional Foods of Spain


Each Spanish autonomy has their own specialty, using local ingredients and local tradition to prepare and cook it. Depending on where you are, a dish (un plato) might not be in Spanish but in Basque, Catalan, Galician, or another Hispanic language.  The one common thread that runs through this diverse country is not what to eat, or even how to ask for it, but when you eat. No matter where you go, meals will occur during the same period in the day: lunch (la hora de comer) between 14:00-16:00; dinner (la hora de cenar) between 20:00 and 23:00, during the week. On the weekend shift the time one hour later.

Arrive outside of these set times and you may find restaurants door open, but not the kitchen (la cocina). And if you arrive right at opening time, it may take a while to fire up the oven (el horno). Now that the universal Spanish concept of time has been established, let’s turn to its variety of food and drink.

The North of Spain

(Asturias, Basque Country, Galicia)

The Basque Country is famous for its cuisine made with top quality produce, from seafood and fish (marisco y pescado), to meat (carne) and cheese, in particular queso Idiazabal
), vegetables (veduras) and wine (vino
), most notably Txakolí
(slightly sparkling, very dry white wine). The Basque version of the tapa is el pintxo
that is usually meat, cheese, vegetables or fish impaled on a piece of bread with a toothpick
Asturias is Spain’s dairy country, famous for its cider (sidra
) and fabada
(Bean stew with chorizo, black sausage and bacon). It’s proximity to the ocean also means a hearty diet rich in fish and seafood (pescado y marisco).

Cantabria offers everything from fish stews to excellent meat, from bee to game, such as venison and boar.

Perhaps only Galicia rivals the Basque Country as far as the esteem their cuisine is held inside spain, in particular its seafood, octopus (pulpo de la feira, a la gallega
) its most famous dish to be savored with a Albariño and Ribeiro Designation of Origin white wine (vino blanco
).

Mediterranean Spain

(Coutries)

Catalonia and Valencia share much in common, sourcing their fish from the same sea, although Catalan cuisine (gastronomía) is also influenced by the Pyrenees Mountains. Valencia is responsible for the world famous paella (audio) while Catalonia offers a rival to champagne, cava.

Further east are the Baeleric Islands…

South of Spain

(countries)

What many outsiders imagine Spain to be. Andalusia is the birth place of tapas and gazpacho. It and Extremadura responsible for much of the cured Spanish ham (jamón). Murcia…

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Center of Spain

(countries)

Madrid, as the capital, is home of some fine restaurants, but with its own local traditions.

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