Recently, there was an article on The Huffington Post on how well do people live and eat in Spain. And the article listed the typical items that are universally known of Spain’s gastronomy. Although I agree 99% percent with what the article is discussing, it made me realized that the typical tourists really only know Spanish food superficially. I am not saying that I know everything, but perhaps a little adventure here and there made me a little bit more aware that there’s more to Spanish food than what is listed on this article. Every region of Spain has their own specialty produce. These days there is a move to market a product under D.O. (Denominación de Origen), which is commonly seen for wine, but now we also see more products being registered under specific D.O. (like jamon).
And to be honest, I am happy to see that on this trip, I hardly saw tortilla española and paella on the menu of the tabernas (pubs). I really got to try many different food of the Andalusia, the Aragon, and the Navarra region, and (I almost forgot!) – Barcelona.
Here is a sample of treasures that I discovered on this trip:
- Andalusia – Sevilla and Cordoba
- Huevos Rotos (actually eaten in many parts of Spain): egg, potatoes, and longanizas (sausages) – (but can also be done with jamon, crab stick, foie, as per one’s taste.
- Flamenquin – roll of jamon York (typical western ham) and cheese, breaded and fried
- Cabritillas (Snails) – we tried it in a local taberna in the Triana neighborhood in Sevilla – interesting, but it is not really for me.
- Rabo de Toro (Oxtail) – the best one we ate at La Cazuela in Cordoba (recommended by our Sevilla hotel receptionist).
- Berenjena con Caña de Miel – eggplant with molasses – a specialty in Cordoba.
- Salmorejo – the to-die-for brother of gazpacho. The best one we had is also at La Cazuela in Cordoba. We also got a cooking idea from a taberna in Sevilla – tortilla española topped with Salmorejo (yum!).
- Aragon – Zaragoza
- Ternasco: young lamb – not baby lamb. I tried in El Tubo “La Ternasca” the costillo (ribs) a la plancha – omg so yummy! I regretted asking for half ración, instead of full! I also tried the feet of the ternasca in El Balcon del Tubo (another taberna in El Tubo). The almond sauce was yummy, but I can only eat a little of the skin. Delicious though! El tubo is a small area in central Zaragoza full of tabernas and a popular place to eat and go out.
- Murcilla: blood sausage. I tried the one with rice in a taberna called Tierra Maña. I love that place. Relax. Cool bartenders. Nice live music. Murcilla is super delicious!
- Chistorra: a type of spicy sausage. This sausage will make you forget what chorizo is!! Just kidding. I love chorizos too. Chistorra is also common in Navarra. I tried Chistorra also at Tierra Maña.
- Jamon de Teruel: which is jamon produced in the D.O. Teruel. It is produced from white pigs, unlike Jamon Iberico de Bellota (which is from black pigs). Thus, the Jamon Teruel is lighter in color.
- Navarra – Tudela
I finally saw some real vegetables in Spain!! Potatoes are not vegetables, folks!
- Artichokes: every taberna here has pintxos (tapas) with artichokes. Yummy! The one I had below is combined with jamon and cheese.
- Asparagus (especially the white ones): I had asparagus for lunch at Restaurante Meson near Tudela. It was fresh and a simple dish. It was just boiled and eaten with vinaigrette and/or mayonnaise.
- Cogollo: which is heart of lettuce/heart of cabbage is also a specialty in Navarra. I unfortunately did not manage to try it.
- Cataluña – Barcelona
Green Peas (pesols): it cost more than my meat casserole called El Alambre in Els Tres Porquets. I had to ask the couple next to me: how could it be possible the peas cost 50% more than my meat dish. Only in Spain! They told me that it is a special type peas cultivated in an area outside of Barcelona and a friend said it has to be harvested by hand.
I had the peas twice: in a restaurant called “Els Tres Porquets” in Catalan which means “Three Little Pigs” and in two-michelin star: Dos Cielos – heart and soul of the Torres Brothers. Those peas are gorgeous: crunchy and sweet, and being prepared in these two awesome restaurants do not hurt a bit.The green peas in homey comfort food style at Els Tres Porquets.
I wish it can be my full time job: traveling, eating, and writing. I started this trip on gluten free/low carbohydrate diet. Oh I lasted for like three days??? HA! Spanish food is meant to be eaten with bread to soak up all the goey, juicy goodness, just like the egg dish with chistorra at L’Eggs by Paco Perez in Barcelona.
I will be so GRATEFUL if I do not gain more than five kilos this trip. The Spaniards really know how to live well and I do so hope it has rubbed on me.