First and foremost, paella might be the number one dish in Spain. To be more specific, Paella comes from Valencia, which is the second largest city in Spain. Nowadays, paella comes in many different variations. For example, you can have paella with seafood, meat, or a combination of both. The seafood ranges from mussels and clams to calamari, prawns, and other shellfish. The meat mainly concerns chorizo, chicken, and rabbit.
As a base, paella is always made from paella rice. Sometimes, this rice is colored black due to the addition of squid ink. Then, different kinds of vegetables such as beans are added. As a finishing touch, tomato paste and herbs are added. One herb in particular that should not be missing is saffron.
One big perk about paella is that it is always served in a very large, authentic skillet. As a result, paella is the perfect party dish.
One big misunderstanding regarding Spanish people is that they love spicy food. It is quite the contrary, they like many different seasonings, but they tend not to like spicy food all that much. Of course, there is one big exception to this unwritten rule: patatas bravas. As the name suggests, this dish includes potatoes. There are diced and fried until they get this golden brownish color. These potatoes are then served with the most delicious sauce ever. The sauce is made by combining two sauces: salsa and aioli. The first one adds the spice, while the second one adds the garlic. In short, this is the perfect tapas!
Tortilla de Patatas
Next up, tortilla de patatas. This dish is fundamentally a Spanish omelet made with potatoes and eggs. Supposedly, a poor woman in Navarra first created the dish. The tale goes that she had to feed a Spanish military man. Yet, since she did not have a lot of money, she had to create a dish with the few ingredients that she had. This included potatoes, eggs, and onions. Hence, tortilla de patatas was born. Nowadays, everyone in Spain loves the dish, regardless of their budget.
Gazpacho is the perfect Spanish dish during the warm summer months. Gazpacho is basically a cold tomato soup and while this might sound a bit strange, it is absolutely delicious. Gazpacho originates from Andalusia, which is a region in the south of Spain. It does not only contain tomatoes but several other nutritious ingredients as well. The most important ones are garlic, olive oil, cucumber, and onion, although there are numerous variations too. This dish is very minimalistic and thus, it is very suitable to enjoy with a side of bread.
Now, who doesn't enjoy a well-made Créme brulée? Well, the Spanish people actually have created an even more delicious alternative to this popular dish: Crema Catalana. If you take one look at the name, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this dish comes from the region of Catalonia.
Crema Catalana actually is not all that different from a traditional créme brulée. Both have the signature crust of caramelized sugar and both are based on a custard. However, crema Catalana's main ingredient for this custard is milk, while the créme brulée custard mainly revolves around cream. In addition, the Spanish version is all about cinnamon and lemon zest to add flavor to the dish, while the French dish mostly uses vanilla.
Crema Catalana is often served in small brown dishes made of stone.
A fun fact about Spanish restaurants and bars is that you will often see a large hum hanging from the ceiling. That is because Jamón Ibérico is one of the most popular tapas in Spain. Jamón Ibérico is the dish that you get when you slice thin slices of Spanish ham and while it might sound very simple, it can offer you an explosion of tastes!
Last, but certainly not least, Calameaes (in full calamares fritos) is another tapas dish that is incredibly popular in Spain. The dish is created by combining rings of squid with a golden brown crust by putting them in the fryer. The rubbery taste of the squid matches really well with the crispy texture of the crust and that is precisely what makes these tapas so popular. It is best served with a little bit of lemon juice to really bring out all the flavors.