► Ordering off the menu
How will you know to what to choose from?
When in Madrid, you will soon learn that there is a tapas bar on almost every street corner.
From the moment the meal is served, or while just sitting at the bar, a whole world is revealed to us through a range of dishes we are yet to uncover. So how will we know what to choose from? what is typically Spanish? and what is special?
Below you will find a small list of typical plates which no visit to Spain can ever be complete without.
The Spanish omelet is considered to be a hearty worker’s meal based on fried potatoes combined with an omelet.
The omelet is so big that it is customary to only eat a slice in one sitting, and the inside of it has to be runny and yolky, depending on how you like it cooked (just like a steak).
In addition to eggs and potatoes, tortilla Española also sometimes contains onions (a war between onion lovers and its opponents), in the Basque Country shrimp is typically added, and green & red pepper in the North of Spain.
Croquettes are considered to be one of Spain’s most popular tapas dishes, and is a staple in most Spanish kitchens. These delicious little bite-size treats are everything one looks for in comfort food - crisp, salty, crunchy & tasty.
Croquettes came about as a way not to waste any scrap of food, especially meat. In order to use up leftover meat or vegetables, these bits are thrown together with bechamel sauce & fried to perfection.
Croquettes feature a number of ingredients - namely meat, vegetables & cheese. The most popular variety are Croquettes de Jamón, using salty Spanish ham.
These green peppers come from the village of Padron which is located in Galicia, Northern Spain. These peppers are usually small (5cm) and their color ranges from green, orange & red, depending on the cultivation process & ripening conditions.
These tiny peppers are fried quickly in a pan with olive oil, sprinkled with salt before being served. This is the current favorite in every tapas bar, and what makes these peppers unique is their varying degree of spiciness.
Most of them are fairly mild, whilst a small minority will be very spicy. The Spanish call this ‘Spanish roulette’ and according to tradition, those who get the spicy ones are the ones that need to pay for the drinks for the entire table.
Jamón Ibérico is a dry-cured ham produced from the livestock of said breeds. According to the rules & regulations of Spain’s Denominación de Origen, Jamón Ibérico must be made from either a pure- or cross-breed pigs where at least 50% of them have Black Iberian genetics.
Jamón Ibérico, specifically the ‘bellota’ variety, has a smooth texture & a rich savoury taste. The fat content is relatively high compared with Jamón Serrano, and a very good ibérico contains regular flecks & intramuscular fat known as marbling.
The paella is a rice dish that contains a variety of toppings and originates from the region of Valencia.
Over the years it became the typical seafood dish for fisherman, who would add to a big pan of rice whatever they had caught that day (prawns, shells, lobsters etc). The dish became so popular that in Spanish the word ‘paella’ has become synonymous with the cooking pan.
The dish was previously thought to be very ‘masculine’ because it was eaten by those who went out hunting or fishing, but today has a more feminist element to it. On Sundays in Valencia, it is customary that the man alone is obliged to cook the dish for his wife.
A typical Spanish dessert made from dough batter that is then tossed in a boiling pan & fried for several minutes. The churro was invented by Spanish shepherds as a substitute for freshly baked goods.
Churro paste was easy to dry & make in an open fire in the mountains, where shepherds spent most of their time. The Churro is considered to be the national Spanish dessert, and it is eaten mainly in the morning, and is usually accompanied by a hot chocolate mix for dipping.