There are many reasons why you will love Spain as an expat. There’s the gloriously warm, sunny weather. Thwe mediterranean diet. Life, in general, runs at a much slower pace than in the UK. And the country’s natural beauty is the most varied and awe-inspiring in the whole of Europe, maybe even the whole world! And it is the truth, the food in Spain is irresistable – you will absolutely love Spanish food.
A Gem for foodies
But one absolute gem is its food. Spain is a haven for foodies. With so many culinary traditions, a variety of local gastronomic delicacies, and an abundance of talented chefs, the place is a food and drink paradise! Spanish food is as diverse as the landscape is spectacular. This is because each region boasts its own exclusive flavours and specialities.
The Mediterranean diet’s colour and fusion of incredible tastes make it one of the best in the world. The secret of Spanish food lies in the use of fresh ingredients and simple cooking techniques.
If you’ve only just decided to become an expat, or if you’ve found your new home but don’t know much about the region you’re moving to, find out here what types of foods you’d expect to find in each of the regions of Spain.
You will find that it is irresistable – you will absolutely love Spanish food
As you read through the rest of this post, please be careful not to drool on your computer!
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Galacia Region – A haven if you love shellfish and seafood
Gastronomy is one of Galacia’s main attractions, 300 food festivals celebrate the importance of food throughout the year.
Galacia’s stunning coastline stretches for over 800 miles, therefore seafood makes up a high proportion of ingredients. This Atlantic diet has excellent health-related qualities. In fact, Galacians are among the most long-lived peoples of Spain, with much lower rates of cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
But don’t worry, it’s not all fish, fish, fish! The Galacians’ favourite meat is veal, and they also enjoy capons (free range chickens), and kid (sorry to say that this is a baby goat).
The Galacians also grow a wide range of vegetables, including the potato, grelos (a type of cabbage), corn, nuts, mushrooms, beets and beans.
Typical meals that you’ll find here include octopus, Gambas al Ajillo (prawns in garlic), chicken casserole, Caldo Gallego (Galacian soup), and goats cheese.
Asturias Region – The place to go if you love rich cheese and dry cider
Asturian cuisine is defined as ‘slow cooked over a low heat’, so stews, soups and bisques. Asturians don’t use many spices or other condiments in their dishes, as they prefer the natural flavours of the ingredients.
Cheese is the most famous delicacy of the region they call “Green Spain”. The area produces at least 30 different types, including a three-milk cheese made from cow, sheep and goats milk. Because Asturias is a coastal area, seafood is also very popular too – in particular the trout and wild salmon.
Alcohol is used a lot in much of Asturias cooking, especially cider. Like its cheeses, Asturias boasts over 30 varieties of apple. Their cider is every bit as tasty as ones served in Normandy in France.
A typical dish is a platter of local ham, sausage, cheese, and bread, accompanied by a large cider. Another popular main course is hake or salmon in cider, the famous Fabada Asturiana bean stew.
Cantabria Region – A retreat when you’re in need of home cooked, comfort foods
The Cantabrians absolutely adore food, and it’s as far removed from nouvelle cuisine as you could possibly imagine.
Dishes are rich, mouthwatering and made from comfort food that’s hearty and warming. Think high-quality game, such as deer and wild boar, anchovies, lobster, and squid.
The most favourite of traditional dishes are Cocido Montanes, a stew made from pork, beans and collared greens. Another is Cocido Lebaniego, made from chickpeas, potatoes, cabbage and pork or beef.
Basque Country – A foodie’s paradise for Michelin Star food
The Basques aren’t just passionate about politics and sport, they’re zealous about food. It is irresistable here and you will absolutely love Spanish food from this region.
In the seventies, a group of young Basque chefs, inspired by French cuisine, created New Basque Cuisine, a range of truly exquisite dishes that have become famous worldwide.
There are nearly 40 Michelin-starred restaurants in the Basque region, and there are ever increasing numbers of popular Gastronomic Societies to join. This is so you can experience and learn, about authentic local culinary traditions.
No wonder that the Basque region is the culinary capital of Spain. The city of San Sebastián has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else on Earth.
Popular dishes include Marmitako (a fish stew), Pinchos (little snacks) and Piperade (made with ham, eggs, onions, green peppers and sauteed tomatoes)
La Rioja Region – For the vegetarian and wine connoisseur’s delectation
The food in La Rioja is based on the Riojans’ agricultural heritage.
In particular, the people use fresh red bell peppers, fava beans, artichokes, asparagus, chard, and lettuce in their dishes. Peaches and pears too. Grapes become full-bodied red wines, and sloe berries are turned into Patxaran.
But don’t fret if you’re not a vegetarian and you prefer meats to greens! The Muslim presence in La Rioja means that the Riojans have a great taste for lamb. In particular, Lechal – a suckling lamb, or Chuletas Riojana – grilled lamb chops over vine cuttings.
Favourite dishes include Piquillo Peppers stuffed with lamb, dipped in batter and fried. Also Esparragos Blancos (white asparagus), and Patatas a la Riojana, (potatoes roasted in smoky paprika and served with chorizo).
Navarre Region – A spectacular destination for adventerous foodies who love choice
Dishes in Navarre are always created from fresh, local produce, and food is celebrated throughout the year at gastronomic events. There are a multitude of themed days paying homage to traditional dishes of the regions.
Navarre’s most imaginative and exclusive creations are in its capital, Pamplona. Popular dishes include Menestra de Verduras – sauteed vegetables and Trucha a la Navarre – a mild fish stuffed with him and fried in breadcrumbs. There is also Estofado de Toro – bull stew served with potatoes and Chistorra – fried sausage served with a fried egg and potatoes.
Castile-Leon Region – Ideal for meat lovers, and anyone with a sweet tooth
Food in Castile-Leon is perpetually raved about, and visitors can witness countless food conferences or age-old rituals of home butchering, matanza.
Castile-Leon is nicknamed Land of the Roasts, and the people here adore game of all types. This includes hare, rabbit, lamb, partridge, pork and trout. They also have a huge sweet tooth – there’s always room for dessert in Castile-Leon.
Typical dishes include Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup), Tostón Asado (suckling pig), Hornazo (meat pie), Olla Podrida (a pork and bean stew)
Catalonia Region – The only place to be if you’re a carnivore
There is so much more to this region’s food than paellas and chorizo. The foods here are distinct from anywhere else in the country. Like many other regions, all the ingredients are harvested from a diverse geographical landscape. Paella is iressistable, you will absolutley love the Spanish food here.
A good way to try a cornucopia of delectable delicacies is to have mar i muntanya. This is a local surf ‘n’ turf – it literally translates to Sea and Mountain!
If you want to eat like a local in Catalonia, try Fideuá (like seafood paella, but with noodles not rice). Other dishes include Escalivada (smoky grilled vegetables) and Faves a la Catalana (fava bean, blood pudding and sausage stew). Another favourite is Bacallá amb Samfaina (the Catalan version of ratatouille made with salted cod).
Aragon Region – The ideal place if you’ve got a sweet tooth and you adore wholesome cooking
Aragon is referred to as the plain cooking region of Spain. However, what you get is honest, wholesome, hearty food, inspired by French cuisine.
As it’s a region that borders France, game is very popular, as well as ham, snails and mushrooms. The food is quite classical, and dishes are based on popular stews. The people of Aragon have a sweet tooth too – the area is famous for its candied fruits, Frutas de Aragon.
If you’re looking for rich, hearty food with an air of France about it, you should definitely try Migas (breadcrumbs accompanied with, well, anything you want!). There’s also Huevos Rotos con Jamón (broken eggs with cured ham) and Ternasco Asada (roast lamb).
Valencian Community – For those who enjoy rice dishes, and like frequenting bakeries
Valencia is extremely proud of its gastronomic delights, and its claim to fame is paella. The most fertile greenbelt in all of Spain, la Huerta, is here. So it’s no wonder that Valencia is king of making incredibly tasty and diverse dishes.
What you might not know is Valencia is a land of tasty sweet treats and bakery products too. You’ll find toasted breads, Valencian donuts, and coconut cakes, just to name a few.
Local dishes well worth a try are All i Pebre (a stew made from garlic and eels) and Paella Valenciana (typically made with rabbit). There is also Olleta (pork stew) and Arrós a Banda (rice and fish).
Murcia Region – Ideal for foodies seeking authentic Mediterranean cooking
The region of Murcia serves up delicious and traditional Spanish foods, with a taste and character all of their own.
Murcia is Europe’s Vegetable Garden, and so vegetables and rice are the staple ingredient in any dish. Therefore it’s a wonderful place for vegetarians to visit.
Tapas are widely available across all of Spain, and they can get quite humdrum, but not in Murcia. Ensalada Rusa (tuna, potatoes and crispy vegetables mixed with mayonnaise) and Cazo (little goujons of Arab-spiced hake) are two that are delicious.
A traditional dish is Alcachofas de la Abuela (known locally as Grandmother’s Artichokes). There is also Pulpo a la Murciana (Murcian-style octopus) and Hortalizas en Tempura (vegetable tempura).
Andalucia Region – a melting pot of different dishes & the best region for foodies
Cooking in Andalucia is traditional, and disparate, and dishes have been passed down from generation to generation.
The healthy Mediterranean diet has developed throughout history. Influenced by the Moors, Greeks, Carthaginians and the Visigoths.
Favourites here include Gambas Pil Pil (prawns sizzling in chili oil) and Salmorejo (tomato soup served with boiled egg and ham). You must try Tortilla Espanola (eggs, potatoes and onions), and Pringa (a slow-cooked stew).
Extremadura Region – Perfect for people seeking traditional food, with a bit of added spice
Extremadura has a long-standing tradition of producing outstanding quality pork products, because of the meticulous care taken in rearing animals. In particular, the famous Ibérico ham, chorizo and Morcilla (black sausage).
This region also has superb cheeses, such as Torta del Casar and Ibores. Paprika is grown here, which adds a warming touch to most dishes.
Food here is something to enjoy with friends. Extremadura is one of only three areas in Spain where tapas are free virtually everywhere. A great way to sample the traditional delights of this region.
Hidden culinary gems of Extremadura include Cáceres (Ibérico pork fillet marinated in Paprika) and La Caldereta (a stew made from kid, peppers, mashed liver, and garlic). There is also Las Mijas (bread soaked in water, then fried with bacon and peppers) and El Bacalao del Convento (Cod served with potatoes, spinach and broth).
Madrid Region – From nueva cuisine to regional Spanish dishes
Food is taken extremely seriously here in the region of Madrid, and is strongly linked to social entertainment.
Madrid accepts all types of influences when it comes to food. Whilst it does have its own authentic dishes, they do not actually originate from here. But don’t worry, authentic food is still plentiful, it just comes from other regions!
With one bar or restaurant for every 192 residents of Madrid, it’s no wonder that this city is a treasure trove of delicious food. Every region’s tastes are represented here, so you won’t miss out on all the authentic Spanish tastes and flavours.
Castile-La Mancha Region – A sanctuary for wine and cheese lovers
The cuisine of this region is hearty and traditional. With ingredients such as bread, meat, cheese and wine. This will transport you back to the era of Don Quixote.
Livestock in Castile-La Mancha focuses on pigs, but wild boar, stag, and rabbit are still enjoyed. Ewes milk is used to make the famous Manchego Cheese.
Castile-La Mancha is home to some of the world’s largest vineyards, and they produce some of the most delectable wines in Spain.
There are plenty of tasty foods you can eat, when you’re not sipping on wine or nibbling at cheese. Some great examples of local Castile-La Mancha food include Atascaburras (a cod and potato paste) and Carcamusa (pork, vegetables and tomatoes stewed together).
The Balearic Islands – The best place to experience authentic meals once considered as being poor man’s food
The cuisine in Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera is influenced by the many cultures which have passed through the archipelago over the years.
Most of the dishes are based on seafood – two types you can’t get anywhere else are the Mallorquin shrimp and the Menorquin lobster.
Must try dishes across the islands include Frit Mallorqui (pig liver fried with vegetables, sherry and fennel) and Sopes Mallorquines (a cabbage stew). There is also Sofrit Pagés (a lamb, sausage, potato and herb casserole) and Tonyina a l’eivissenca (a traditional tuna stew made with pine nuts, raisins, eggs, spices, lemon juice and white wine).
The Canary Islands – Ideal for the adventurous foodie, combining traditional Spanish dishes with African influences
The Canary Islands are famous for their mojos, two different types of sauces. The first is mojo picon, made from pepper, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and paprika, and the second, mojo verde is based on parsley and coriander.
Most meat, is imported from mainland Spain or South America. However, thanks to Gran Canaria’s amazing climate, local markets offer seasonal ingredients, such as chorizo, goat’s cheese, and honey.
Dishes to get your taste buds tingling include Papas Arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) and Sancocho Canario (salted fish in a mojo sauce), There is also Platanos Fritos (fried bananas).
You can hopefully now see that the food here is irresistable – you will absolutely love Spanish food. Hopefully, our guide to Spanish food has whet your appetite, and your computer is free from drool!
If our guide has also helped you decide on which region you’d want to live in, then please contact us, and we can help with the removal of your treasured belongings from the UK to Spain.
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