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7 Dishes You Shouldn't Miss on Your Next Trip to Spain

Updated on March 4, 2011

Make sure you check out these typical Spanish dishes

Spain is one of those countries you just have to taste. Yes, there is also the wonderful weather, the amazing architecture and the beautiful, ehm, birds (any ornithologists in the house?). But Spanish cuisine is just something else. Like most countries, some dishes are more popular than others, so to help you find your way around the next time you decide to visit, here is a small selection of the 7 dishes you shouldn't miss.

1080 Recipes by Simone Ortega - Your best bet if you want to learn spanish cuisine

1080 Recipes
1080 Recipes

Simone Ortegas's book is a staple in every spanish home. Traditional recipes for traditional dishes, 1080 Recipes is the most complete book you can find on spanish cuisine, and is where you'll find recipes for all of the dishes listed on this page. If you're in to Spain, you definitely must have this book.

 
Lentejas
Lentejas

1. Lentejas

/len-te-has/

Lentils. Sounds pretty straightforward. Spain is a country proud of its legume-based dishes, and this "stew" is one of the most popular dishes when winter comes around. Sometimes it may be more consistent, others it will be more like a broth, but it will always contain vegetables (onion, carrots, potato) and some form of meat (normally "chorizo", a typical spicy sausage). Usually left to cook for hours at a time, it is very protein rich and really delicious. One of my personal favourites.

Cocido
Cocido

2. Cocido

/ko-zi-dou/

A typical Madrid dish. One of it's peculiarities is that it is served in three goes: a first dish which is the broth with noodles; a second dish which is the chick-peas together with the vegetables (carrots, turnip, green-beans) and a third dish comprised of the meat products (belly pork, chicken). It is all cooked together as one big stew, but it is religiously served as three courses. It is probably Madrid's main dish. In other parts of the country, like Andalucía, it's known as "Puchero" (served all together, with more vegetables and less meat).

Better practice your lingo before you go

50 spanish words you should know before you visit Spain

Fabada
Fabada

3. Fabada

/fa-ba-da/

The third legume-based dish on this list. It originates from the north of the country, from Asturias, and is made up mainly of white beans. It's stewed together with "chorizo", "morcilla" (a type of black pudding) and other parts of the pig to form a rich tasting broth.

Paella
Paella

4. Paella

/pa-e-cha/

Probably one of the most famous Spanish dishes. It's cooked in a very large (flat) pan called a paellera. It's rice based and is normally prepared with a selection of sea food (Spaniards are very proud of their sea food): king prawns, mussels, squid, etc and accompanied by onion and peppers. One of the most expensive ingredients is saffron, which is used to give it the characteristic yellow colour.

Pisto
Pisto

5. Pisto

/pi-sto/

Resembles the French "ratatouille". It's a very popular dish in Castilla la Mancha and is essentially a vegetarian dish. Stewed onion, red and green peppers, aubergine and courgette; add fresh tomatoes and cook until it's all soft. Serve it with a couple of fried eggs, a piece of crusty bread and a glass of red wine. Then enjoy.

Gazpacho
Gazpacho

6. Gazpacho

/gas-pa-chou/

Basically a cold vegetable soup. Tomato, cucumber, peppers, onion, garlic, all brought to a boil then added to the blender with bread, olive oil and vinegar. Put it in the fridge and let it cool. The result is a very smooth, yet strong tasting, refreshment. Very popular in the summer heat which Spain is so well known for.

Going to Madrid? Check out...

101 things to do in Madrid before you die

Tortilla de Patatas
Tortilla de Patatas

7. Tortilla de Patatas

/tor-ti-ya-de-pa-ta-tas/

Spanish omelette. It's so simple that it makes you feel silly, but it is probably Spain's number one seller. Big pan of olive oil, fry the chunks of potato until they go soft and then mix it with plenty of egg and salt. Then take another frying pan, with a bit of oil and slowly cook the omelette turning it over and over until properly cooked. Look out for the massive Tortillas sitting on the top of any tapas bar in Spain, you can't go wrong.

I hope this shortlist gives you an idea of the kind of food you can experience in Spain. Check out some of my other lenses dedicated to this country, and if you're planning on visiting Madrid, make sure you check out Viviendo Madrid, a blog about Madrid written in Spanish with all the information you need about the capital.

Did that whet your apetite?

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    • bikerchickie profile image

      bikerchickie 6 years ago

      I just had some home-made gazpacho for lunch. Now I'm dying to try that Fabada recipe. Looks awesome!

      Thanks for sharing. :)

    • LaurieKristensen profile image

      LaurieKristensen 6 years ago

      It was very interesting to read this. I have only heard of a couple of these dishes. The last one, Tortilla de Patatas, sounds most like I'd love it (good old potatoes and eggs for this Norwegian/Irish-origins, bland-food gal). Not as sure about the others, but I'd be willing to at least taste them. Great lens!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      I love Gazpacho - will be warm enough for it soon!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I learn something new everyday. Food looks delicious!