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Spanish cuisine (Cocina española) consists of the traditions and practices of Spanish cooking. It features considerable regional diversity, with important differences between the traditions of each of Spain's regional cuisines.

(of which Spain is the world's largest producer) is extensively used in Spanish cuisine. It forms the base of many vegetable sauces (known in Spanish as ). Herbs most commonly used include , , and .

(2024). 9781444330021 .
The use of has been noted as common in Spanish cooking. The most used meats in Spanish cuisine include chicken, , lamb and . Fish and are also consumed on a regular basis. and are snacks and appetizers commonly served in bars and cafes.


History

Antiquity
Authors such as wrote about the aboriginal people of Spain using nuts and acorns as staple foods. The extension of vineyards along the Mediterranean seemed to be due to the colonization of Greeks and , who also introduced the production of olive oil. Spain became the largest producer of olive oil in the world. The growing of crops of the so-called (the "Mediterranean triad": , , and ) underpinned the staple meal products for the inhabitants of the south of the Iberian Peninsula during the Roman Era (, and ).


Middle Ages
The ' limited but lasting contributions to Spanish cuisine included the spread of consumption of fermented milk and the preference for avoiding the mix of water and wine.

was possibly introduced for the first time by in the Iberian Peninsula by the 6th century. After the Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century, Arabs expanded rice cultivation,

(2024). 9788474292572, Editorial Glosa.
bringing new irrigation techniques originally from the Indian subcontinent that also allowed for the cultivation of crops such as , , and oranges. Other ingredients possibly introduced in the Iberian Peninsula during the Hispano-Muslim period include , , , , and .
(2016). 9781442637306, University of Toronto Press. .
The most famous Spanish dish, , used two ingredients that were probably popularized during the period: rice and saffron.

also developed the basis for the art of -making and introduced , a food preservation technique relying on vinegar. Dishes like , , alajú, , , , , were some of the many legacies of cuisine. Although Muslim religion did not allow alcoholic drinks, the consumption of wine was widespread as the Qur'anic precepts never got to overrule the preexisting traditions. There are many accounts of the "drinking chats" of Abd al-Rahman II, Abd al-Rahman III and . (a formerly popular sauce preparation out of vogue since the late 17th century) was a Sephardic recipe in origin.

(2017). 9781635037104, Editorial Cultiva Libros S.L.. .
Observing the regulations, Jews and opted for blood-drained meat without fat, outright rejecting bacon. were an important part of the Jewish cuisine in the Middle Ages, most notably , a local name for a dish, along with other Jewish culinary legacies in Spain. The cookbook history in the country could be traced back to works such as the (1324) and Ruperto de Nola's (1520), both written in the Catalan language.


Modern era
The arrival of Europeans to the in 1492 initiated the advent of new culinary elements, such as , , , , spicy , , and , or . Spain was where chocolate was first mixed with sugar to temper its natural bitterness. Other ingredients traveled to the Americas, such as rice, grapes, olives and many types of cereals.
(2024). 9780313328190, Greenwood.

Influenced by , grain-based soups such as (along the Mediterranean coast) and, similarly, (in the ) were customary in Early Modern Spain.

(2024). 9780803296619, University of Nebraska Press.

Foreign visitors noted with disdain the Spaniards' use of olive oil and (pig's) for cooking rather than their preferred (cow's) . The latter was barely available and, according to the 17th-century account of Madame d'Aulnoy, on the rare occasions that it was, would come "from afar, preserved in pig's tripes and full of worms". Butter was only produced locally in places such as Galicia, Asturias and Soria, or was imported, preserved in potassium nitrate, (the so-called "Flanders' butter").

By the 18th century, many American ingredients, such as peppers and tomatoes, had been fully incorporated to the Spanish cuisine. Contemporary foreign visitors such as French ambassador Jean-François de Bourgoing, judged negatively this change happening in Spain by the late part of the century: "Spanish cooking, which they have inherited, is not generally pleasing to foreigners. Spaniards like strong condiments such as pepper, tomato sauce, hot peppers and saffron, which color or infect nearly all their dishes".

(2024). 9781349458912, Palgrave Macmillan.

Spain was the bridge for the Columbian exchange between the rest of Europe and the New World. Many traditional Spanish dishes such as (an omelette made with potatoes), would not be possible without the Columbian exchange. , , and pan con tomate are made with tomatoes, which traveled from the New World to the Old World.

For most of the 19th century, the aristocracy consumed a set of dishes that was largely an imitation of French cuisine. That was the available cuisine at the time, together with the degeneration of regional cuisines. A positive foreign take on the Spanish dishes opposing the largely negative views from foreign commentators was that of Richard Ford, who was fond of Spanish specialties such as and ham.

Modern Spanish cuisine was gestated in the late 19th to early 20th century, with gastronomes and writers such as Mariano Pardo de Figueroa (Dr. Thebussem), , , Emilia Pardo Bazán and Dionisio Pérez, some of whom put effort into developing the idea of a "national cuisine" recognisable by Spaniards as their own.

Keen on participating in the Spanish nation-building process, Dr. Thebussem, in an autochthonous example of culinary nationalism, proposed to the King's Chef that the (a rustic stew typically made of meat, legumes and other vegetables) should be served at official banquets as a national dish. This could be considered an important step in the process of straying away from the French cooking paradigm, which was dominant in the 19th century in Europe. Olla podrida had been previously ridiculed in foreign (most notably French) satires.

Although the new foodscape built in opposition to the French centralist culinary model accounted for the awareness of the distinctive regional singularities, subsequent food writers in the country would continue to cope with the tension between the Spanish peripheral and centralist foodscapes.

(2024). 9788869693021, Edizioni Ca' Foscari.

The influential cooking book 1080 recetas de cocina by (first published in 1972) became a hit in Spain, remaining as of 2019 the third best-selling book ever in the history of the country after Don Quixote and the Bible. This was not a book exclusively of Spanish traditional recipes, but also included French recipes, bringing an exotic penchant to Spanish homes.

Televised started in the country in 1984 with Con las manos en la masa.

(2024). 9788492462155, Biblioteca Nacional de España.


Meal routines
A continental-style ( desayuno) may be taken just after waking up, or before entering the workplace. Common products taken during breakfast include , milk, chocolate drink, biscuits (most notably ), magdalenas, toasts (featuring ingredients such as oil, tomato and butter) or .

Due to the large time span between breakfast and lunch, it is not uncommon to halt the working schedule to take a .

( el almuerzo or la comida, literally meaning "the meal"), the large midday meal in Spain, contains several courses, especially in restaurants. In some regions of Spain, the word almuerzo refers to the mid-morning snack, instead of lunch. Lunch usually starts between 2:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. finishing around 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is usually followed by , which refers to the table talk that Spanish people undertake. Menus are organized according to these courses and include five or six choices in each course. At home, Spanish meals contain one to two courses and a dessert. The content of this meal is usually a soup dish, salad, a meat or a fish dish and a dessert such as fruit, yoghurt or something sweet. may also be typically served before or during lunch.

In recent years, the Spanish government took action to shorten the lunch break, in order to end the working day earlier. Most businesses shut down for two or three hours for lunch, then resume the working day until dinner time in the evening.Jones, Sam (2016). "Working 9 to 8: Spain seeks to shorten 11-hour working day". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-12-20. "Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It's Time to Reset Clock". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-12-20.

La cena, meaning both or , is taken between 8:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. It typically consists of one course and dessert. Due to the large time span between lunch and dinner, an afternoon snack, , equivalent to , may take place at about 6:00 p.m. At merienda, people typically drink coffee, eat something sweet, or eat a sandwich or a piece of fruit.

Some country-wide staple dishes common throughout Spain include croquetas (), (a rice dish from the Valencian Community), ensaladilla rusa (the local name for the ), (a vegetable cold soup), and tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette). There is a disagreement in Spanish society when it comes to preferring as an ingredient in the Spanish omelette, often accompanied by exclusionary and vehement takes by either side.

File:Boquerones en vinagre.jpg| Boquerones en vinagre File:Surtido de Croquetas.jpg| Croquetas File:Gazpachos-Refrigerados-super.jpg| gazpacho carton packages File:Pincho de tortilla - Madrid (cropped) 4.3.jpg| Pincho de tortilla File:Mejillones escabechados.jpg| Mejillones en escabeche

(), taken before lunch or dinner, or during them, are common. It is also common for tapas to be provided as a complimentary appetizer in bars and cafes when ordering a drink. Aside from some of the aforementioned specialties, other signature tapas include: mejillones en (marinated mussels), , (meatballs), , or raxo de cerdo.


Regional cuisines

Andalusia
Andalusian cuisine is twofold: rural and coastal. Of all the Spanish regions, this region uses the most olive oil in its cuisine. The Andalusian dish that has possibly achieved the most international fame is , a cold soup made with chopped vegetables, such as tomatoes and green peppers, vinegar, water, salt, olive oil, and bread (crumbs). Other cold soups include poleá, zoque and .

Eating olives as a snack is common. Meat dishes include flamenquín, pringá, stew, and (also called Andalusian tripe). Hot soups include sopa de gato (made with bread), caldillo de perro (fish soup with orange juice) and . Fish dishes include pescaíto frito, soldaditos de Pavía, and .

Cured meats include Serrano ham and Iberico ham. Typical drinks in the area include , wine (such as Malaga, Jerez, and Pedro Ximénez), and .


Aragon
Aragonese cuisine has a rural origin. One of its most famous dishes is roast lamb, or asado de ternasco. The lamb is cooked with garlic, salt, olive oil, laurel leaves, thyme and parsley. Pork dishes are also very popular, among them, . Popular Aragonese recipes made with bread are , , , and .

are very important to Aragonese dishes, but the most popular vegetables are and , as well as the famed . In terms of cured meats, and ham from are used often. Among the cheeses, is notable. Fruit-based cuisine includes the very popular (English: fruits of Aragon, which are covered in chocolate) and maraschino cherries. Also to note is the Melocotón con vino, consisting on , a regional peach variant, infused in red wine with sugar and cinnamon.

Another sweet Aragonese specialities are the trenza de Almudevar, the , (a type of ), and Españoletas (a kind of local cookie). Cocina Aragonesa | El fogón ilustrado

The presence of peaches in Aragonese cuisine can be seen in its drinks. Sopeta is a traditional beverage emerging from sliced peach, white wine and sugar. The best-known of Aragon are those from Cariñena, (Huesca), Calatayud and Campo de Borja.


Asturias
has a long and rich history, deeply rooted in Celtic traditions of . One of its most famous dishes is . Fabada is the traditional stew of the region, made with white beans, sausages (such as and ), and pork. A well-known recipe is fabes con almejas (beans with ). Asturian beans ( fabes) can also be cooked with , , prawns, or octopus. Another known recipe is (made with white beans, kale, potatoes and a variety of sausages and bacon) and .

Pork-based foods, such as , and (chorizo-stuffed bread rolls), are popular. Common meat dishes include (roasted veal), (a crunchy, crumb-coated veal steak stuffed with ham and cheese), and . Fish and seafood play an important role in Asturian cuisine. The provides a rich variety of species, including tuna, hake and sardines.

Asturian cheeses are very popular in the rest of Spain. Among them, the most representative is , a pungent, blue cheese developed in the regions near the Picos de Europa. Other popular cheese types are gamonéu afuega'l pitu, and . These are usually enjoyed with the local , a low-alcohol drink made of Asturian apples with a distinctive sourness.

Asturian cider, , made of a special type of apple, is traditionally poured escanciada from a certain height, usually over the head of the waiter/server. When the cider falls into the glass from above, the drink "breaks", becoming aerated and bubbly. It is consumed immediately after being served, in consecutive, tiny shots.

Notable desserts are (similar to crêpes, usually filled with cream or apple jam), (white rice cooked with milk, lemon zest and sugar), and ( cakes filled with almond mash and covered with sugar glaze).


Balearic Islands
has purely Mediterranean characteristics due to its location. The islands have been conquered several times throughout their history by the French and the English, which left some culinary influences. Some well-known food items are the , , mahón cheese, gin de Menorca ( pelota), and . Among the dishes are , , and . Popular desserts include ensaïmada, tambor d'ametlla, and suspiros de Manacor.


Basque Country
The of the Basque Country has a wide and varied range of ingredients and preparations. The culture of eating is strong among the inhabitants of this region. Highlights include meat and fish dishes. Among fish, ( bacalao) is produced in various preparations: bacalao al pil pil, , etc. Also popular are anchovies, , and . Among the most famous dishes is . Common meat dishes include beef steaks, pork loin with milk, fig leaf quail, and marinated goose.

or chacolí (a characterised by its high acidity and a lesser-than-average alcohol content) is a staple drink from the Basque Country, produced in Álava and . is popular to drink following the apple harvest and is served in cider houses and bars.


Canary Islands
The have a unique cuisine due to its geographical location in the ocean. The Canary Islands were part of the trading routes to the , hence creating a melting pot of different culinary traditions. Fish (fresh or salted) and potatoes are among the most common staple foods in the islands. The consumption of , fruits, and also characterizes Canarian cuisine. The close proximity to Africa influences the climate and creates a range of warm temperatures that in modern times have fostered the agriculture of tropical and semitropical crops: , yams, , , and . These crops are heavily used in Canarian cuisine.

The aboriginal people, , based their diet on (a type of flour made of different toasted grains), shellfish, and and pork products. Gofio is still consumed in the islands and has become part of the traditional cuisine.

A sauce called mojo is very common throughout the islands. It has been adapted and developed in many ways, so that it may complement various main dishes. Fish dishes usually require a "green mojo" made from or , while roasted meats require a red variety made from chilli peppers that are commonly known as mojo picón.

Some classic dishes in the Canary Islands include , , , rabbit in sauce, and stewed goat.

Some popular desserts are truchas (pastries filled with sweet potato or pumpkin), roasted gofio (a gofio-based dough with nuts and honey), príncipe Alberto (a mousse-like preparation with almonds, coffee, and chocolate), and (a variety of flan made with condensed milk).

Wineries are common in the islands. However, only Malvasia wine from has gained international recognition.


Cantabria
A popular Cantabrian dish is cocido montañés (highlander stew), a rich made with , , and pork. is widely used and bonito is present in the typical sorropotún or (). Recognized quality meats are and game meat.

Cantabrian pastries include and . include Cantabrian cream cheese, , picón Bejes-Tresviso, and .

As for alcohol, is the Cantabrian pomace brandy. ( sidra) and wine are also favorites.Barreda, F. The chacoli Santander in the 13th to 19th centuries. Maxtor Editorial Library. 1943. 2001 edition, first reprint. . "'Vignobles et vins du Nord-Ouest de l'Espagne, Alain Lemps." "The txakoli of Burgos Valle de Mena wants OJ" 2005. Accessed 19 January 2008. Cantabria has two labelled denominación de origen calificada (denomination of qualified origin): Costa de Cantabria and Liébana.


Castile-La Mancha
In Castilla-La Mancha, the culinary habits reflect the origin of foods eaten by and . Wheat and grains are a dominant product and ingredient. They are used in bread, soups, gazpacho manchego, crumbs, , etc. One of the most abundant ingredients in Manchego cuisine is garlic, leading to dishes such as , , and .

Some traditional recipes are gazpacho manchego, , and . Also popular in this region is , a kind of foie gras manchego. is also renowned.

Given the fact that its lands are dry, and thus unable to sustain large amounts of living on grass, an abundance of small animals, such as , and especially birds (, , , ), can be found. This has led to game meat being incorporated into traditional dishes, such as conejo al Ajillo (rabbit in ), (marinated partridge) or huevos de codorniz ().


Castile and León
In Castile and León, characteristic dishes include , (a black pudding made with special spices), , sopa de ajo (garlic soup), (), (roast lamb), Chuletón de Ávila (Ávila rib steak), , from Salamanca, (a cured ham from Guijuelo, Salamanca), , other sausages, Serrada cheese, , and Ribera del Duero wines.

Major wines in Castilian-Leonese cuisine include the robust wine of Toro, reds from Ribera del Duero, whites from Rueda, and from .


Catalonia
The cuisine of is based in a rural culture; it is extensive and has great culinary wealth. It features cuisine from three climates: coastal (seafood), mountains, and the interiors. Some famous dishes include , pa amb tomàquet, , , , , caragols a la llauna and the bomba de Barceloneta. Notable sauces are , , of Catalan origin and .

Cured pork cuisine includes (white and black) and the of Vic. Fish dishes include (), cod stew, and arròs negre. Among the vegetable dishes, the most famous are calçots and (roasted vegetables). As for desserts, these include Catalan cream, , , , and .


Extremadura
The cuisine of is strict, with dishes prepared by shepherds. It is very similar to the cuisine of Castilla. Extremaduran cuisine is abundant in pork; it is said that the region is one of the best for in Spain thanks to the that grow in their fields. herds raised in the fields of Montánchez are characterized by dark skin and thin legs. This breed of pig is found exclusively in Southwestern Iberia, both in Spain and Portugal. Iberian pork products such as sausages are common and often added to stews ( ), as well as (pork liver pâté seasoned with paprika, garlic and other spices).

Other meat dishes are lamb stew or goat stew ( caldereta de cordero and caldereta de cabrito). Additionally, meat dishes can include game meats, such as , partridge, pheasant, or venison.

Distinctive cheeses from the region include the so-called quesos de torta (sheep milk cheeses typically curdled with the infusion of ). Both the torta of La Serena and the torta of El Casar enjoy a protected designation of origin. Among the desserts are , , and pestiños (), as well as many sweets that have their origins in .

Cod preparations are well known, and is among the most traditional freshwater fish with fish and vegetable dishes such as moje de peces or .

Soups are often bread-based and are served in both hot and cold forms. is sometimes used to season or soups such as sopa de poleo. Extremaduran ajoblanco ( ajoblanco extremeño) is a cold soup, which is different from Andalusian ajoblanco since it contains egg yolk in the emulsion and vegetables but no almonds.

The Northeastern comarca of produces , which is smoked paprika highly valued all over Spain and extensively used in Extremaduran cuisine.

The region is also known for its vino de pitarra tradition (homemade wine made in small earthenware vessels).


Galicia
Galician cuisine is known in Spanish territory because of emigration of its inhabitants. Similarly to neighbouring Asturias, Galicia shares some culinary traditions in stews and soups with the Celtic nations of Atlantic Europe. One of the most noted Galician dishes is soup. Also notable in this region is pork with turnip tops, a popular component of the Galician carnival meal laconadas. Another recipe is (a chestnut broth), which is commonly consumed during winter. Pork products are also popular. Cattle raising is very common in Galicia, consequently red meat is consumed often, typically with potatoes.

The simplicity and authenticity of Galician cooking methods were praised in the early 20th century by the prominent gastronome Manuel Puga e Parga (also known as Picadillo), who praised dishes such as or (), opposed to the perceived sophistication of the French cuisine.

Galician seafood dishes are well-known and rich in variety. Among these are , octopus, scallops, crab, and barnacles. In the city of Santiago de Compostela, located along an ancient pilgrim trail from the , it was customary for travellers to eat scallops upon first arriving in the city.

Among the many dairy products is .

The queimadas (a folkloric preparation of ) consists of mixing of the alcoholic beverage with peels of orange or lemon, sugar or , prepared in a nearly ritual ceremony involving the flambé of the beverage. Sweets that are famous throughout the Iberian Peninsula are the tarta de Santiago and ( crêpes).


La Rioja
La Rioja is recognized by the use of meats such as pork and , which are produced after the traditional slaughter. Lamb is perhaps the second most popular meat product in this region ( ). Veal is common in mountainous areas. Another well-known dish is , Rioja stew. The most famous dish is Rioja style potatoes and fritada. Lesser-known dishes are Holy lunch and (garlic eggs). Pimientos asados (roasted peppers) is a notable vegetable dish.

La Rioja is famously known in Spain for its red wine, so most of these dishes are served with wine. Rioja wine has designated origin status.


Madrid
Madrid did not gain its own identity in the Court until 1561 when Philip II moved the capital to Madrid. Since then, due to immigration, many of Madrid's culinary dishes have been made from modifications to dishes from other Spanish regions. Madrid, due to the influx of visitors from the nineteenth century onwards, was one of the first cities to introduce the concept of the restaurant, hosting some of the earliest examples.


Murcia
The cuisine of the region of Murcia has two sides with the influence of Manchego cuisine. The region of Murcia is famous for its varied fruit production. Among the most outstanding dishes are: , , , aubergine a la crème, , etc. A typical sauce of this area is , used to accompany meat dishes.

Regional dishes include (beans cooked with bay leaves, hot peppers and garlic), , , sopa de mondongo, and others.

Some meat products from Murcia are (), which is flavored with oregano, and , made with ground beef. Among fish and seafood are the golden salt, prawns, and baked octopus. Rice dishes are common and include , , paella Valenciana (rice with rabbit and snails), , and .

Confectionery products include exploradores and , typical in Murcia gastronomy and found in almost every pastry shop in Murcia. They are both sweet and savoury at the same time. Desserts are abundant; among them are , Orchard, stuffed pastries, and others.

This region also has wine appellations of origin, such as the wines from , and .


Navarra
The gastronomy of has many similarities with . Some of its flag dishes are (Navarra-style trout), , , and . There are also recipes such as the Carlists eggs that are commonly used.

Salted products are common and include chorizo de Pamplona, stuffing and sausage. The lamb and beef have, at present, designations of origin. Some dairy products are , , and . Typical alcoholic drinks include and pacharán.


Valencia
The cuisine of has two components: the rural and the coastal. A popular Valencia creation is , a rice dish cooked in a circular pan and topped with vegetables and meats (originally rabbit and chicken). Dishes such as , arròs negre, fideuá, (arròs al forn in the Valencian language), and rice with beans and turnips are also common in the city.

Coastal towns supply the region with fish, leading to popular dishes like (), typical of the .

The desserts in this region include , chocolate Alicante, and , the last two being of Muslim origin.

(2024). 9780199313396, Oxford University Press. .
Notably, during Christmas, is made in and . Another well-known dessert are (almonds wrapped in a thick layer of caramel).


Notable Spanish chefs


See also
  • Early impact of Mesoamerican goods in Iberian society
  • List of Spanish desserts
  • List of Spanish dishes
  • List of Spanish soups and stews
  • Agriculture in Spain
  • List of Spanish cheeses
  • Bread culture in Spain
  • List of cuisines
  • Mediterranean cuisine


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