Spanish Food. What not to love about it?
As most of you know, I have been obsessed with the country’s cuisine since my visit last fall. I have visited the Basque restaurant in town, stopped by another restaurant for tapas happy hour and searched specialized markets for ingredients.
I can’t help it. My childhood was filled with a wide variety of Spanish flavors and aromas. They are an integral part of what we eat in Puerto Rico. Rediscovering those flavors as an adult triggered a torrential flow of emotions and memories.
Since Spanish food is deeply rooted in my heart, I feel an immense satisfaction when I share its goodness with others. In here, I am highlighting five foods any gastronomic convert should try.
I would not be fair if I do not give jamon (ham) the top spot on my list. I am not exaggerating when I say this is the first and last thing my husband and I ate in Spain.
These popular hams are uncooked, dry-cured and divided into two primary types: jamon Serrano and jamon Iberico (the most expensive ones). The long curing process gives the final product a smooth and silky texture.
You can find a wide array of jamon products in most (if not all) Spanish cities. Stop by markets, order it at tapas bars and restaurants or visit specialized purveyors.
Where to find it outside Spain: the good news is that you do not have to struggle to get jamon in the United States. Love Iberico is an online platform selling top-quality Iberian products throughout the country, made up of a group of Iberian product lovers who wish to share their passion with their customers by offering them products at some of the best prices in the market.
What enthusiasts me about this site is that you are able to sign in for a monthly Iberico Box (combination of jamon, chorizo and salchichon) subscription. We have heard about beauty, pet or stationary subscription boxes. But, jamon boxes? That is genius (and mouthwatering!)
I grew up eating way too many delicious bacalao (codfish or saltfish) dishes. In Spain, this fish is used in many versatile ways: stewed, grilled, in soups, in salads, al pil pil or in croquetas. In Madrid, my favorite way to eat bacalao was over a piece of bread drizzled with honey (oh, so good).
Where to find it outside Spain: it is not difficult to find codfish in supermarkets. However, for fresh, high-quality fish, visit a seafood provider or fishmonger. The salted variation can be found in specialized stores.
After living may years in California, I still use the word tortilla to refer to an omelette (like we do in Puerto Rico). That cause confusion since when you use the word tortilla in here, people think you are referring to a corn tortilla.
Well, to me, a tortilla consists of eggs, potatoes and onions. My siblings and I had this for dinner many times. Nothing used to be left in the pan!
Where to find it outside Spain: we are very lucky in this case. Anybody can prepare a tortilla at home. Now, the trick is to master the technique. This article describes the process step by step.
A lot of people are familiar with this Valencian dish. And, there is a reason for that! The original version uses chicken, rabbit, snails, white beans and saffron. In addition, there are seafood, vegetarian and mixed meat versions. This is a must when in Spain.
Where to find it outside Spain: Spanish restaurants outside Spain tend to prepare paellas on the weekends or for special events. Several areas have Paella Festivals where the public can try different versions (this is popular in wine areas). Simple, but flavorful, versions can be cooked at home. My mom used to prepare the dish using a kit from the Vigo brand.
I can bite if you try to take my turron from me. I am not going to go into details but I brought a massive quantity of boxes from Spain last fall.
Turron, or nougat, is a mix of honey, sugar, egg whites and almonds. There are two basic types: a soft, smooth version and hard version, which contains pieces of almond (the one I prefer). There are almond caramel, chocolate, fruit and orange versions.
Where to find it outside Spain: I have found turron is Hispanic markets. Lately, I have seen them in stores such as WorldMarket and Marshalls (they have packaged food section). I grew up on the El Almendro brand (other brands: 1880, El Artesano, El Lobo, Sanchis Mira).
Which of these foods would you like to try?
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