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| ||Spanish food and cuisine|
The food and cuisine of Spain are coloured by the occupations of the past, with Jewish influences as well as those of the Moors and Northern Africa, from the Mediterranean and, in the north west, from the Atlantic. Fish is a major part of the cuisine of Spain. Figures from Billingsgate in 2003 showed that 2½ kilos of fish were eaten per person per annum in Britain, 65 kilos in Japan and 40 kilos in Spain, while a FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) report states:
- Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Malta: 10-19 kg
- France: 20-29 kg
- Portugal and Spain: >30 kg
A great deal of this fish is exported from British waters and it defeats me still how difficult it is to buy good quality, unusual fish in the United Kingdom, while you can go to tiny markets around Spain and eat wonderful fish of all kinds. The Moors introduced spices such as red chillis but particularly cumin as well as dishes cooked with almonds and figs. Pork is the most frequently found meat in Spain, particularly in the form of wonderful hams and sausages. Pork meats were eaten as a statement of Christian solidarity (limpieza de sangre) as both Jews and Moors considered this an unclean meat. The northern provinces, often trapped between mountains and ocean, have more dairy produce and rely on fish, pigs and sheep for meat and cheese.
The Spanish exploratory expeditions brought to Spain chocolate, tomatoes, peppers and beans, which then spread across Europe. These are now staples of the Spanish cuisine. Spain is also the greatest single producer of olives in the world, with 44% of all olives grown here. The reputation of Spanish cooking oil suffered dreadfully from the scandal of 1981. Businesses providing oils and foods tinned in Spanish oil, a major industry in Spain, collapsed. As a result a huge amount of work has been done to restore the reputation of Spanish cooking oil and very high quality oil is still remarkably underpriced in comparison to its French and Italian competitors. There is some evidence that the so-called 'toxic oil syndrome' was not actually brought on by cooking oil at all. Many dishes throughout Spain are cooked using a base called a sofrito, similar to French mirepoix and Italian soffritto. It contains garlic, onions, and tomatoes sterwed and softened in olive oil. The quality of the sofrito can affect the whole dish.
Supermarkets have not yet developed in Spain the all-powerful image they have in the UK and much food shopping still takes place in local markets and shops on a daily basis. All cuisines benefit from this sort of arrangement as the authenticity of the food is maintained. In Spain, quite a lot of food is cooked outdoors, either charcoal-grilled or barbecued or cooked in a brick or clay oven. Other famous favourites are tapas, small dishes served alongside drinks, which have developed a huge reputation for their variety and quality. Earlier in the day, or in the small hours of the morning after a night out, the snack of choice is a churro dipped in hot chocolate. Rice is used in many dishes in Spain, often called 'Paella' of one kind or another in Valencia, from whence it came, and Catalonia, but more frequently known as an arroz dish of some kind elsewhere.
We recommend that you click on the region of interest under 'See places' below to help you to find out about local foods and dishes.
So far, I have made some 5,000 entries in Spanish, but you can bet that the item you are searching for is not among them. If this is the case, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to respond with the information you need.
|Map of Spain, with many thanks to www.map-of-spain.co.uk by Tourizm Maps &Copy; 2006||
Most frequent country: Spain
See places: Mexican food and cuisine, Alicante, Andalucia, Aragón, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Barcelona, Basque food and cuisine, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile-Léon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Levante, La Mancha, Murcia, Navarra, La Rioja, Sevilla, Valencia
See foods and dishes: albóndigas, almendra, anchoa, arroz, arroz con leche, asado, bacalao, berenjena, boquerón, buñuelo, butifarra, Cabrales, chorizo, chuletillas, churro, cocido, gazpacho, jamón serrano, paella valenciana, Queso Manchego, sofrito, tapas, tortilla, turrón
See drinks, wines etc: Ribero del Duero, Rioja
See: Fish, Spanish cooking oil scandal