A Literal Taste Of Spain

Crema Catalana
Crema Catalana

I, for one, am what my friends would call a “foodie”. I love food- when I say that it’s not that I am a glutton or constantly whipping pizza down my throat. Let’s just say I have an appreciation for food- the way it looks, smells, its preparation and you guessed right – its diverse tastes!

Sitting and pondering, for a good number of days, on what my next article should be focused on, I was stuck. A lot of thoughts came up- a write-up on Ghana? (“I don’t think so), something on fashion? (“Everyone is writing a fashion article”), or maybe, the best holiday destinations? (“Every place away from home is a great holiday destination”). After what seemed like a century, it hit me! Write on what I love and know; FOOD!!!!!!!

But what food? There are so many different kinds of food, so how would I narrow my choice? I could easily write on Ghanaian cuisine (being a Ghanaian and growing up on Waakye, Banku, and the likes – how difficult could it be?). But where would the challenge be in staying in my comfort zone?

It was at that moment that I saw a news item on Spain. EUREKA!!!! Spanish food. I’d always wanted to travel to Spain, and the only Spanish dish I’d ever eaten (Paella), left a lasting and pleasant impression.
This article by no means covers Spanish cuisine, rather it is something to tickle the reader’s taste buds, and probably motivate the reader to eat (and possibly cook) at least one Spanish dish in his/her lifetime!!!

Located on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe is the beautiful nation of Spain. Known for its vibrant culture and tourist attractions (Alhambra and the streets of Jerez), this European nation has gained prominence for its distinctively delicious and colourful cuisine.

Unlike other nations around the world that have specific national cuisines, the food of Spain is unique to every tribe and geographical area.

Climate and geography have and continue to have great influence on the cooking methods and ingredients used. Like much of the world, Spanish dishes have a high carbohydrate element about them; be it rice, potatoes or bread.

La Comida– the main midday meal, lasts for approximately two hours (2 pm to 4 pm). This meal includes several courses including meats, stews and vegetables. It is thus of no surprise that Spain has a high number of overweight individuals!!!

Traditional Spanish dishes inculcate various ingredients beautifully combined to give the most mouth-watering dishes. Such dishes are rich with colour (vibrant reds, green, orange, and yellow) and distinctive in taste. Some of the most popular and traditional dishes (according to region) are described below:

Andalusia: It is no secret that Spain is known for its rich and juicy olives. Whether eaten raw, placed in a salad or turned into oil, olives are an ever-present element in a majority of Spanish foods.
With a combination of meat, bread and olives, Andalusian meals are the ideal blend of the major food groups.
The Andalusian region of Spain makes the most use of olive oil in its various foods. The most popular dish (according to international standards) from this area is Gazpacho- A mouth-watering cold soup that beautifully combines vegetables, bread, vinegar, water, salt, and olive oil. This dish is the ideal starter for people who wish to eat something cool and refreshing after a long day. It can also be used as a main course.

Catalonia – The locality that produced Spain’s first cookbook boasts of a vast array of dishes- these cuisines are dependent upon seafood and vegetables; as evidenced by dishes such as bean tortilla, snails, Escalivada (roasted vegetables), and stewed cod. For all those seeking a fish diet, this area would present the ideal opportunity for you.

Madrid: The Spanish capital is known for more than its famous soccer team (Real Madrid). Renowned for being a dairy producing area, it presents some of the tastiest starters and desserts such as traditional cheese, rice pudding, strawberries and chocolate- the ideal haven for those with a sweet tooth or two!!!

Valencia: I think one of the best ways to end the day is with a seafood platter with a side of vegetables. And although in other parts of the world this would come at a pretty hefty price, this beautiful city “almost gives such meals away!” The coastal nature of this region has made seafood very accessible and affordable! This region is home to my favourite Spanish dish (well actually the only Spanish dish I have tasted, nonetheless still my favourite!) – Paella; A rich blend of rice, vegetables, shrimp, and fish. Aside this irresistible dish the region has produced some amazing desserts such coffee liqueur, nougat and Chocolate Alicante. The scenery of Valencia is breath-taking, but the food is quite a plethora to die for!!

Aside the above-mentioned places and the cuisines peculiar to them, there are certain other must-try delicacies which I have pointed out below:

Crema Catalana (Catalan cream): Those who are fans of Crème Brulee would definitely fall in love with this- a rich custard flavoured with lemon zest and cinnamon, covered with caramelised sugar. A bowl of this weekly is sure to have you tipping off the scales!!!

Churros Con Chocolate: My mouth is watering at the mention of chocolate. This delicacy is a deep fried dough dipped in chocolate and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. I can only speak for myself when I say that dough that has been fried and dressed in chocolate is a must try.

Churros Con Chocolate

Churros Con Chocolate. Photo/Par Taste

Croquetas: For those who don’t have as much of a sweet tooth as myself, I would recommend this. Minus the sugar of the previous dishes, but equally as delicious, this combination of potatoes, cheese, and ham is a close rival to Italian pizza.

Albondigas: You have not tasted meatballs till you try this one. Coming from someone who loves herself some spaghetti and meatballs, you can believe that this dish is certain to leave a smile on your face and some sauce on your fingers! Reading the recipe for this dish and looking at the images, had me daydreaming of the day I would prepare my own Spanish meatballs.

Fabada Asturiana: If you are a stew lover, then this is made for you. This rich stew combines beans and sausage to create a delectable addition to rice, noodles, or potatoes.

Food is a language on its own. It has the ability to make people smile, bring families together and teach the beauty in combining ingredients to create something new. I hope this little tickle will prompt you to indulge in the essence of Spanish meals so as to create “little Spain” in your home!!!

Remember, you never know what you can create until you start!

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