It seems like Europe’s culinary reputation is entirely dominated by the cuisines of Italy and France. It seems like every famous chef you see on TV comes from one of those countries, or at least went to culinary school there. But this perception leaves out one of Europe’s most delicious countries for food. We are talking, of course, about Spain.
Perhaps owing to their relatively close proximity, Spanish food shares a lot with Italian food. Many of the ingredients are similar, or indeed identical. For instance, olive oil is perhaps even more important to Spanish food than it is to Italian food. Italy’s famous prosciutto di Parma has a Spanish counterpart, jamon iberico, that is widely regarded as comparable or even superior.
But while Italian food is well known around the world, with pizza and pasta appearing on kids’ menus everywhere, Spanish food is sadly neglected, even unknown. This status quo makes no sense, because Spanish food is truly delicious. Someday, perhaps, Spanish food will take its rightful place alongside the European titans of French and Italian, coming together in a triumvirate of tastiness representing the Mediterranean love of good food and quality ingredients.
Spanish style tomato gazpacho recipe
Why aren’t cold soups more of a thing? On a hot day, a cold bowl of soup can be a singular pleasure: refreshing, cooling, and yet still satisfying, a bowl of cold soup has the power to revitalize and rejuvenate even the most sunburned of vacation goers. But aside from the odd vichyssoise, cold soup seems to be a rarity across most of the world.
A rarity in most of the world, maybe, but in the lands of Andalusia in the south of Spain, cold soup is a lifestyle. Seven hundred years of North African rule gave a lot to Andalusia, but on a hot summer’s day, one thing in particular stands out: gazpacho. There are several variants across Andalusia, each subtly different, but tomato gazpacho is the classic to which all others should be compared.
Fresh, juicy tomatoes, red onion, bell peppers, and cucumbers combine in this silky raw soup that comes together in a flash. Soak stale bread in water with some vinegar and add it to a blender with diced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and cucumber. Blend vigorously until smooth—if it’s not smooth enough, pass the soup through a strainer to remove some of the pieces. Thanks to the bread and olive oil, this soup is meant to be silky-smooth. After blending, adjust for salt, pepper, and garlic and then allow the gazpacho to chill completely in the refrigerator. Not only will this make it more refreshing, but the resting time allows the bread to continue to absorb the flavors. Served with some crusty bread, this soup is the perfect thing after a day spent in the hot sun.
Patatas bravas recipe
Patatas bravas are essentially the Spanish answer to home fries. Crunchy outside, fluffy inside, and served with a slightly spicy tomato sauce that keeps you coming back for more. Patatas bravas are classic tapas fare, meant to be enjoyed with drinks and shared between a large group. Pro tip: whip up some homemade aioli to take these potatoes to the next level!
Spanish tortilla recipe
Unbeknownst to most Americans, the Spanish word “tortilla” is not an exclusively Mexican phenomenon. Across the pond, the word “tortilla” actually refers to a rustic type of omelet, one of the true staples of Spanish cuisine. But this is no breakfast food: a tortilla is dense, usually a few inches thick, and packed with fried potatoes. In a really well-made tortilla, the center stays moist and juicy. Served with a salad, this makes a perfect last-minute dinner or lunch.
Spanish style sangria recipe
What do you do on a hot day when all you have is red wine? For many people, this might mean another trip to the store, but for a Spanish person, there’s only one answer: make sangria! Sangria is a special wine cocktail popular in Spain during the warmer months, and it’s easy to see why. Slightly sweetened red wine is loaded up with various fruits along with a couple of cheeky shots of liquor (brandy and rum are both quite common). The whole thing is chilled for a few hours to allow the flavors to get to know each other, then ideally served poolside with one of those little paper umbrellas. ¡Ole!
Churros con chocolate recipe
In contrast to Mexican churros, which tend to be almost a foot long and intensely flavored with cinnamon, Spanish churros are much more subtle: essentially, they are nothing more than little fried doughnut sticks dusted with sugar. In Spain, they’re almost always served with hot chocolate in the local style: intensely chocolatey, luxurious, with a thickness from heavy cream. Positively decadent!