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The Rich, Spicy, Fragrant Food of Spain

Updated on June 24, 2010

The fire of the flamenco dancer and the drama of the bullfight is reflected in the food of Spain, as well: rich, spicy and fragrant. Spanish food uses a lot of olive oil, a lot of garlic and a lot of spices. Favorite meats include pork, goat, chicken and hot sausage. Combine some of these with seafood to make paella.


Gazpacho is an ancient dish mentioned in Greek and Roman literature, although two of the main ingredients of the modern version, tomatoes and green peppers, were brought to Spain from the New World only in the 16th century.

This "soup" is served icy cold, very refreshing in Summer. You can use various vegetables from your garden but it must have tomatoes, cucumbers,green peppers and olive oil.

Gazpacho recipe

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup chopped mushrooms

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup onions, finely chopped

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 1/4 cups finely chopped green bell peppers

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup finely chopped cucumber

2 teaspoons chopped chives

1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup tarragon wine vinegar

3 cups tomato juice

Crush garlic in 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté mushrooms in olive oil until browned slightly. Combine the rest of ingredients with the mushrooms and garlic in a glass bowl. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve with croutons. Makes 8-12 servings.


Paella is a Spanish dish prepared by simmering together chicken, seafood, rice, vegetables, saffron and other seasonings.

Originating in the rice-growing areas on Spain's Mediterranean coast, the dish is especially associated with the region of Valencia. Paella takes its name from the paellera, the utensil in which it is cooked, a flat round pan with two handles; paella is traditionally eaten from the pan.

Paella recipe

1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, cut in pieces (or use Mexican chorizo)

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 lbs chicken parts

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

2 cloves minced garlic

1 pint shucked oysters

1 large can tomatoes (2 lbs 3 oz)

2 cups water

3 bouillon cubes

1 teaspoon oregano

2 Tablespoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups long-grain rice

1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron

1 package frozen peas (10 0z)

1 package frozen artichoke hearts (10 oz)

1 jar pimentos (7 oz), cut in strips

1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 quart mussels

Brown sausage in skillet. Move to a large heavy kettle. Salt and pepper chicken and brown in olive oil in skillet. Add to sausage.

Sauté onions and garlic in skillet and add to chicken and sausage. Drain oysters, reserve liquor. Add oyster liquor, tomatoes, water, bouillon, oregano, salt, pepper to kettle. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Stir in rice and saffron. Cook until rice is tender.

Add peas, artichokes, pimentos, shrimp and oysters. Cover and simmer until shrimp is tender and turns pink.

Steam mussels in water until shells open. Discard any that do not open. Use as garnish. Serves 10.

Spanish Tapas

Tapas is a snack or appetizer, typically served with wine or beer.

Tapas are generally classified not by their food group, but by how easy they are to eat. Foods that can be easily eaten with the fingers are called cosas de picar, ‘things to nibble.’ Those that require utensils, even if that utensil is as simple as a toothpick, are called pinchos. And tapas that are served in sauce are called cazuelas, or ‘little dishes.’ (

Examples of tapas served in the Columbia restaurant in St Petersburg, FL are

Homemade beef meatballs in a mildly spicy tomato sauce.

Shrimp Supreme
Marinated jumbo shrimp wrapped in smoked bacon, and lightly fried.

Cakes de Cangrejo
Blue crab meat "cakes" served with passion-fruit aioli sauce.

Black Bean Cakes
Served with guacamole and sour cream.


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    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 5 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      LOL!I didn't take offense. I appreciate the constructive criticism and will definitely take your advice. Thanks for the comment!

      Good luck, also, in your writing!

    • tapasrecipe profile image

      tapasrecipe 5 years ago from Spanish tapas land

      sorry if i caused offence Judydianne,don´t take it personally, i was just trying to put you straight on spanish cuisine, having cooked professionaly for twenty years and lived in Spain for the last seven. i reckon i would know if the Spanish put Worcestershire sauce and tarragon wine vinegar in their gazpacho.what you need is an aged red wine vinegar preferably a cabernet sauvignon. as for you friend being Spanish it does´nt really mean anything, my mum is english but a blindfolded orangutan can cook better English food than she can, bless her.

      Good luck with your writing

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 5 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      By the way, tapasrecipe, the only Spanish food that I have eaten has been in the U.S.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 5 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thank you, tapasrecipe, for your comments. My recipes are based on research that I have done and from my Spanish friend. I'm sorry that you disagree. I would love to see some of your recipes and learn from them, as I have never been to Spain, but would love to go. I just love Spanish food so much that I had to write about it.

    • tapasrecipe profile image

      tapasrecipe 5 years ago from Spanish tapas land

      sorry guys but i had to comment, and now im bitting my tongue, the gazpacho is wrong, so wrong i cant tell you. and as for the paella, oysters , mussels no no no no, i have spent my life cooking, have lived in spain for 7 years and have a spanish fiancé. i love innovative food, i love changing food but cmon tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, its all i can say is i wont be on hubpages telling people how to do brain surgery, the simple reason is i dont know, please write about what you understand otherwise hubpages will sink without a trace in 5 years along with our wages.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 6 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thank you so much wendy87. Hope you like the paella.

    • profile image

      wendy87 6 years ago

      The recipes are mouth watering....great hub voted up..bookmarked i will try Paella tonight.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Me, too, Holle. I'll bet you have a good recipe!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Great! I love paella!!

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Ethel, what a wonderful trip. Hope you enjoy it. Bring back some recipes for us.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Visiting Spain later this year. You have given me a taster

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thank you so much, Smireles. I've been to a few of them and they are wonderful. Thanks for visiting my hub!

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 7 years ago from Texas

      The Spanish restaurant sounds awesome. I would love to visit one. Thanks for the paella image and recipe. Great hub!

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Oh, my gosh! That is hilarious, Audrey! haha. Seriously though, it is better to eat smaller portions and tapas are perfect. We were introduced to a Spanish restaurant by a friend from Spain who ordered the correct Spanish wine with our tapas. The menu was in Spanish. It was fantastic!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Wonderful hub on wonderful cuisine. I love tapas and we actually even have a restaurant here in the midst of nowhere. It is so nice to eat small portions! I told my middle boy Pat who is 30 that we were taking him to a tapas bar and he thought we said 'topless bar'....he almost had a stroke! All kidding aside, wonderful hub.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Nifty, thank you for your comments. I love the paella, but it is rather expensive to make. Have to save it for a special occasion.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thanks, again, prasetio. I also love spicy food. Indian and Spanish are two of my favorites. Thanks for your support.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Good information from you. I like spicy food and I found that trough this hub. Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. Thumbs Up for you.


    • nifty@50 profile image

      nifty@50 7 years ago

      Very informative, the paella looks awesome! Thanks for sharing!