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Basics For The Tourists: 7 Things You Should Know About Spanish Cuisine

Are you going to visit Spain soon? Before you pack your bags and get ready to go, there are a few things you should know about Spanish cuisine. If you’ve been to Spanish restaurants before, then you have an idea of their flavour profile.

However, there are a few things different from authentic Spanish restaurants and experiencing the actual Spanish culture. For instance, you may have tried sangria from Spanish restaurants before. But if your visit Spain, you can’t easily find sangria anywhere. Instead, you’ll have to find a place where locals go that regularly serve sangria.

Furthermore, you might already know this, but Spaniards have a different meal time. Sure, they eat breakfast and lunch at regular hours, but in the late afternoon, they would eat snacks or have some drinks. Additionally, they eat dinner late at night since they also sleep late.


Aside from that, there are other Spanish cuisine facts you should know. If you’re interested, then you should check the list below!

1. Seafood paella is not the original

Did you know that paella is considered the national dish of Spain? However, a lot of people usually mistake seafood paella for an authentic one, when in fact, the original paella is made of chicken and rabbit (or snail).

Paella originated in Valencia (which is why it’s called Arroz a la Valenciana), and it was originally the farmers’ food. Its main ingredients are Valencian rice, onion, tomatoes, chicken, and rabbit. When there’s a special occasion, they tend to add more saffron for more colour and flavour.

From there, the dish became more popular in other regions of Spain. Nowadays, there are more than 10 variations of paella including Valencian, Meat, and Pella Negra.

2. Main ingredients depend on the region

Although generally, the two basic ingredients in Spanish cuisine are garlic and olive oil, other ingredients vary depending on the region. There are 17 autonomous regions in Spain that offer different ingredients depending on their location.

For instance, Galicia has a lot of green beans and meat, Andalucia has a lot of olive trees, and Castilla has the finest seafood. However, since Spain is dominated by plains and mountains, the temperature may also vary that’s why they have a wide range of choices for ingredients.

So if you’re looking for a certain ingredient or dish, you should visit the local region where it’s well-known.

Spanish cuisine

3. They use a lot of olive oil

Do you love olive oil? Maybe not as much as how the Spaniards do since they own more than ⅓ of the world’s olive oil. It happened since their climate suits well with the olive tree production.

The olive oil production in Spain became bigger over time. It’s not just because they can produce a lot of it, but it also signifies their culture and tradition. Besides, most Spanish dishes use olive oil including tapas, rice dishes, and snacks.

So why does this golden oil become more popular worldwide? Aside from the fact that it’s available, the variety of dishes that can be cooked using it also growing.

4. Never forget about tapas

You might’ve already tried tapas before in Spanish restaurants or bars. And once you’ve visited Spain, you should also try how the locals do it.

Originally, tapas are meant to cover drinks. Moreover, the variation of tapas also evolved through time, and they become small portions to nimble while drinking. Before, tapas are just a slice of ham or cheese, but now, you can see olives, shrimps, and sausages served as tapas.

In Spanish custom, it’s normal to go out and drink with friends. That’s why tapas are not just the term used for the type of food, but also for the act of enjoying drinks with friends.

Spanish cuisine

5. There’s a lot of ham

And not just ham, there are also other cured meats like chorizo, salchichon, and lomo. It’s impossible not to have pork in Spain. The Jamón Ibérico and Jamón Serrano are two famous hams around the world. The difference between the two hams is that Ibérico is where Ibérico pigs come from, while Serrano is made from a specific breed of pig —The landrace white pig.

If you’ll see a hanging ham in bars and Spanish restaurants, that must be Jamón Ibérico. It’s basically dried ham undergone a certain process. Years ago, you can also see hanging hams from local houses in Spain. But now, you can just find them in commercial establishments.

6. They produce a lot of saffron

Have you ever seen saffron before? Almost ¾ of the world’s saffron is produced in Spain. It’s a style from the flower called saffron crocus. It’s collected and then dried, which can be used as a food ingredient or colouring agent. However, saffron may look red, but it’s yellow when diluted.

As a food ingredient, you can usually see it in paella, but you can also use it as tea. It’s beneficial to human health since it contains antioxidants, antidepressant properties, and crocin and crocetin. So it’s also used as medicine to prevent a lot of diseases. However, if you prefer to consume saffron as a supplement, then feel free to do so.

Spanish cuisine

7. They never run out of wine

Rioja is the best wine region in Spain. Almost 64,000 hectares are reserved for vineyards in Rioja, which is why it’s where you should be if you love wines. But even though there are a lot of types of wine, red wine will always be the most popular variation.

If you’ve seen a bottle of Spanish wine before, it’s indicated the specific quality of the wine. For instance, Denominación de Origen, or DO is known for being prestigious. So if you see one in Spanish restaurants or local wineries, you should try it!


Now that you know some of the important things when it comes to Spanish cuisine, then you should consider them when you visit Spain. Make your visit unforgettable by embracing the culture and traditions of the country. Don’t forget to share with us other Spain-related facts by leaving a comment below!

About Aliana Baraquio

Aliana Baraquio is a web content writer during the day, and an aspiring chef before dinner time. You can catch her browsing the internet for the latest hairstyles and hair care tips in her free time.

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