Spain – the name brings to mind the white villages of Andalucia, beaches lit by the ochre glow of the setting sun, medieval towns of Costa Brava, and endless glasses of local wine. Then there are the locals who seem to spend languorous days nibbling on a variety of tapas. To us that is the greatest mystery of all – how do Spanish people manage to eat all day long?
Never ones to complain about something so glorious, how could we be left behind? Of course we had to follow suit in the name of integration 😉 So we ate – we binged at every given opportunity, sampled one tapas too many, learnt to differentiate between Spanish cheeses, and appreciate Spanish wine. From Malaga to Granada, Valencia to Figueres, we went in search of the best Spanish food and discovered some mouthwatering delicacies.
We still love our paella and sangria, but there is so much more to Spanish food than that. Here’s some of our favourite Spanish eats, including our favourite dishes from Southern Spain
1) Porra Antequerana
El Torcal De Antequera’s surreal rock formations are not the only thing I love about Antequera. The very mention of Porra Antequerana brings a picture of Spain to my mind-the bright sun, warm weather, loads of fresh vegetables, and the oh-so-ripe tomatoes. Porra Antequerana is a mouth-watering soup/dip that belongs to the gazpacho family. It is made from tomatoes, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, garlic, serrano ham, and tuna – perfect with breadsticks or crusty bread.
Don’t leave Antequera without tasting this glorious orange dip. Make sure you savour every creamy bite.
2) Berenjenas con miel de cana/Aubergine Tempura with sugarcane molasses
Don’t be surprised if you end up without any photographs of this dish. You will feel the intense need to devour it the moment it is served. A typically Andalucian dish, Berenhjenas con miel de cana, is easy to find around Malaga and Granada. Fried aubergine rounds, delicately arranged next to each other are generously drizzled with Miel de Cana (sugar cane honey). Just a bite of it could turn anyone into an aubergine lover.
3) Chorizo Bocadillo
Aah Bocadillo – every Spaniard’s favourite snack. Bocadillos are readily found everywhere in Spain – from bars, taverns, and cafeterias to roadside vendors and Spanish homes. The bocadillo is made with a baguette style bread loaf (barra de pan) cut lengthwise. It is stuffed with tuna, anchovies, chicken, or chorizo. The Spanish do not add lettuce, tomato, or mayonnaise to their bocadillos.
Of course, there are innumerable fillings to choose from. Our favourite? The Chorizo Bocadillo. The intense flavour of this Spanish sausage is perfect for a sandwich on the go. It’s smoky, it’s spicy, it’s perfection.
A word of warning – beware of ordering a ‘regular’ Bocadillo in Spain – it can be as long as 18 inches. What can we say? Spaniards like their carbs 😉
4) Molette/ Sandwich
The very sight of these open sandwiches is enough to send your tummy into a tizzy. Halved bolillo rolls are topped with an array of beans, cheese, meat, and salsa and then baked till they are hot and crisp – what more could one ask for?! It is the best use of left over morsels of meat and other foods if you’re staying at a self-catering accommodation. A Molette is perfect for lunch or an afternoon snack.
Seriously, how is it that even a sammy tastes better in Spain? 🙂
5) Jamon Serrano
Any conversation about Spain would be incomplete without referring to Spanish ham. Sitting on the beach and watching the sun go down with a plate of ham, olives and a glass of wine is part of my Spanish fantasy
Jamon Serrano literally translates to ‘ham from the mountains’. In olden times when a pig was fattened, no part of it could be allowed to go waste. It would be preserved by the process of curing hams. Mountainous air was ideal for this process, hence giving Jamon Serrano its name. Ham is so deeply ingrained in the Spanish society that it forms a part of many traditional customs in this iconic country. Serrano ham has a much firmer texture than other hams and forms the base of a large variety of tapas and other traditional Spanish recipes. Nom, nom, nom!
6) Fish, the Spanish Way
You haven’t had fish till you’ve had fish in Southern Spain. We have a soft spot for Malaga’s local delicacy Espeto De Sardinas (Grilled Sardines) – the perfect accompaniment to a glass of icy-cold beer
Our second favourite in Southern Spain comes from a tiny village called Riofrio. The endearingly-named hamlet is located between Malaga and Granada. Riofrio is famous for its trout river and trout farm. Naturally, the quality of fish is top notch. Everything from the trout salad to grilled trout is mouth-wateringly delicious. Not to be missed if you’re ever in Southern Spain.
Hungry for more? Check out Part II of the best things to eat in Spain in A Food Tour of Northern Spain
Want to cover Spain on a budget? We have some fabulous ideas for Budget Accommodation in Spain
Want to read about our shenanigans in Spain? Check out what happened when we participated in the largest food fight in the world – The Tomatina Festival 🙂