Explore Globe Explorer



Greetings From Sunny Spain

Colorful in culture, flavor, and influence, Spain boasts a highly popular cuisine with a far-reaching reputation. Historically, Spain has gathered many of their culinary inspirations from the countries and civilizations in which they conquered. With a diverse climate, prime trade location, and rich history, Spain has grown into a “cuisine superpower”, of sorts.

Conquering Cuisine

Once upon a time, Spain was considered a conquering nation. Part of the culinary influence of this country actually hails from other civilizations and countries, including Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. Most notable, however, is the Moors, who cultivated a high utilization of rice, fruits, nuts, and fish in their 800 year conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. The Arabic civilization introduced the olive tree, providing one of the most utilized ingredients in the region. During the discovery of the “New World” during the transatlantic trade, Spain spread these ingredients, recipes, and cultures even further.

Good Food That’s Good For You

Spain features a fairly healthy list of ingredients– mostly fish, shrimp, pawns, as well as fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Olive oil is the base of many sauces, as well as the cooking base for meats, seafoods, and other dishes. In fact, the average Spaniard consumes approximately 12 liters of olive oil per year. Despite popular belief, Spain doesn’t typically produce “spicy” foods. Rather, there is a high emphasis placed on the use of fresh, herbal spices such as parsley, garlic, oregano, onion, paprika, saffron, rosemary, and thyme.

While cooking methods vary greatly throughout Spain, there are a few notable innovations that must be acknowledged. One of the most popular meats in Spain, iberico ham, is created using a curing method. Meat is aged for months to years, and enjoyed as an appetizer or tapa. Chorizo is also often cured. Other meats such as chicken, or fish are prepared on a charcoal grill, known as la parrilla or la brasa. A metal plate grill, the la pancha, cooks meat evenly while keeping food nice and juicy on the inside while crisping on the outside.

If you are walking through the colorful streets of Spain, you should not leave without tasting the nation’s signature dish. Paella, which originates from the Valencia region but has since garnered positive attention throughout the country, is a perfect medley of all the ingredients that make Spain Spain. With a healthy, crispy serving of flavorful saffron rice, rosemary, and some form of meat (often seafood or game), this highly famous dish has a reputation that precedes it. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, is a typical appetizer in a Spanish meal, and is often drank straight out of a glass or traditional Spanish bowl. If you are looking to enjoy the wine culture of the country, Sangria is a must-have. With red wine, brandy, fruit, sugar, and ice, this national drink is popular for a reason.

Readily Available Resources

Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and featuring a highly diverse climate, Spain has been granted plenty of helpful resources to provide ingredients and inspiration. This melting pot of a country is home to Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, further adding to the colorful tapestry of Spanish cuisine. Tradition is important in a country like this, and this is shown even into the very manner in which these citizens eat. Rather than three large meals a day, Spaniards are more likely to snack, spreading their meals out to five. This inspired the creation of tapas, or what you likely know as “small plates”. Tapas are smaller dishes, combined with other small dishes to make up a whole meal. With these smaller plates, you get a bit of a taste of everything. Lunch is typically the biggest meal of the day, and dinner is served around 9-11 PM. Yes, Spain is full of night owls, but this is not the reason why dinner is served so late is for political reasons rather than cultural ones. Regardless, Spanish cuisine and culture has begun to make it’s mark worldwide, with tapa restaurants and Spanish recipes gracing many households into the west and beyond.

Countries in Region AndalucĂ­a, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, Valencia
Population 47.35 million
Regional Flavor Profiles Fresh, Herbal, Savory, Clean
Featured Flavors