Every region in Spain has its own distinct cuisine and specialties. Our journey took us through Madrid, Cordoba, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona. At each stop, we enjoyed some delicious food along with breathtaking scenery and historical sites.
I was amazed at the variety of olives available in Spain….they are versatile, flavorful and nutritious. They can be cured with garlic or herbs or they can be stuffed with peppers,anchovy, tuna, bacon! Yummy!!
In Cordoba, we enjoyed the beautiful architecture of La Mezquita….this is an amazing fusion of a 16th century mosque with a Catholic Cathedral built right in the center. I had some of the best food of our trip in Cordoba, which is also the main producer of Olive Oil in Spain. Fideua, which is a main course dish made of noodles and cooked in broth, was so delicious that I was licking my fingers. when it got over! When I complimented our waiter and asked him how Fideua was made, he quickly ran inside and got a brand new paella pan as a gift for me. I was struck by the warmth and hospitality of the locals.
The best-known Spanish dish, a stew called paella (pie-AY-ah), originated in Valencia. Valencia was our next stop and we could not wait to sample the Paella there. Though there are many variations, paella is usually made of a variety of shellfish (such as shrimp, clams, crab, and lobster), chorizo (sausage), vegetables (tomatoes, peas, and asparagus), chicken and/or rabbit, and long-grained rice. Broth, onion, garlic, wine, pimiento (sweet red pepper), and saffron add flavor to the stew.
Arros Negre is a Valencian and Catalan dish made with cuttlefish(or squid) and rice, somewhat similar to seafood paella. The dish’s dark color comes from squid ink which also enhances its seafood flavor. Needless to say, once I heard there was squid ink in the dish, I did not go near it!
Valencia apart from its amazing paella, is also the birthplace of Horchata which is a sweet, milky, nut or grain based beverage. Ria and I loved this refreshing drink , which is very nutritious as well.
Another refreshing drink was my cappuccino with orange rind! It looked so good that I did not want to spoil the perfect way it looked by drinking it!
Our final stop in Spain was Barcelona which falls in the Catalan region, and has its own specialties in food. The mainstay diet here is typically Mediterranean, with an abundance of fish, legumes, and vegetables, the latter often served simply boiled with a drizzle of olive oil. Some very exclusive restaurants serving the most gourmet food can be found here. One of the things we enjoyed here was the cheese fondue with pesto (Catalan style).
Finally it was time to fly back and end our memorable trip. Spain will always hold a special place in my heart for its gastronomic delights!