From Paella to Churros: Top Foods to Try in Spain

Posted May 28, 2013 by Elica Sue in Travel Lists

Traveling is an experience for all of our senses: for our eyes to take in the beautiful new views, for our ears to hear new languages and accents, for noses to smell new scents, and for our mouths to taste new, rich flavors. Food is one of the most stand-out variables that adds to the very definition of travel; we are surrounded by food that we’re not used to seeing every day — so try it while you can. And if you’re ever in Spain, embrace part of la cultura de España by trying their food and seeing what they have to offer.

Paella (Spanish Rice Dish)

The paella is most likely one of the most famous Spanish dishes because it is internationally viewed as Spain’s national dish. Born on the east coast of Spain in a city named Valencia, the paella is a rice dish that contains anything from various vegetables and meat, to seafood; variations of the paella include the paella valenciana, a version with meat, and the paella de marisco, a version with seafood. Due to its origins in Valencia, it is said that the most authentic versions of the paella come from there–so if you happen to be in the region, don’t forget to try a paella.

Paella @ El Viejo Gallo - Ibiza

Flickr photo by Michela Simoncini.

Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician Octopus)

As indicated by the name, pulpo a la gallega comes from Galicia, a northwestern region in Spain, but it is a popular dish through the whole of Spain. Galician octopus is mainly served alongside with boiled potatoes called cachelos, and sometimes bread as well. According to tradition, water should not be a beverage to accompany the octopus in a meal, so a young red wine is served instead.

Pulpo a la Gallega

Flickr photo by photoAtlas.

Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham)

Spanish ham is prized around the world, and that’s what Jamón Ibérico is–Iberian ham. Another name for Iberian ham is pata negra, which means “black hoof”, perhaps due to the possibility of the Iberian ham being made from a black Iberian pig or pigs that have at least three-quarters Iberian pig lineage. This type of ham has a tendency to be steep in price, and is rarely available abroad, so try some before leaving Spain if you enjoy ham.

Jamon Iberico

Flickr photo by Renée S. Suen.

Tortilla Española

Many of us think of the flat and thin, round Mexican ‘bread’ when tortilla comes to mind. However, the tortilla Española is far from that; the tortilla Española also carries the name of Spanish omelette. Though he Spanish omelette usually consists of eggs, onions, and potatoes, and is a common dish in Spain, there are several versions of the tortilla Española even within one region.

Tortilla Española. Spanish Omelette

Flickr photo by formalfallacy.

Gazpacho (Cold Tomato Soup)

Gazpacho might also be another one of the more internationally known Spanish dishes–a cold tomato soup, though also called a liquid salad because it is made with vegetables that are both fresh and raw. Originating from Andalusia, Spain, this refreshing soup is mainly served during the summer because of its cool temperature.

Barcelona - lunch

Flickr photo by bmitd67.

Queso Manchego

Queso Manchego is a creamy, buttery-textured cheese crafted in central Spain, in a region called La Mancha; instead of the common cow-milk cheese however, queso manchego comes from a sheep special to the La Mancha region. For queso manchego to be considered, well, queso manchego, it has to reach certain requirements like having been aged between sixty days to two years, and being made in the La Mancha region–it even has specific requirements in shape and size.

Aged Manchego Cheese

Flickr photo by Carlos Lorenzo.

Churros and Chocolate

Though the origin of churros is unknown, churros have dispersed everywhere throughout the world and are popular in multiple countries including those in Latin America and the United States.  Another name for churros is a Spanish donut,  so it’s easy to think of it as a sweet snack – -however, Spaniards dip churros in hot chocolate, or café con leche, and eat it for breakfast. That’s a meal!

Churros con Chocolate

Flickr photo by toolmantim.


About the Author

Elica Sue

Elica Sue is WildJunket's web editor and writer specializing in languages and student travel. Based in California, she grew up with an exposure to a menagerie of culture, language, and art, and is a student pursuing what she is most passionate about: writing, traveling, and learning languages. She blogs at Travelengua.

Newly Reviewed
  • 9.0
  • 9.0
  • 8.3
  • 7.2
  • 9.0