Spanish cocina has gained international prestige in the last decades. Thanks to worldwide recognised Spanish chefs such as Ferran Adrià, Juan Mari Arzak, Santi Santamaría, Martín Berasategui, etc.
Paella is a Valencian rice dish with ancient roots that originated in its modern form in the mid-nineteenth century near Albufera lagoon, a coastal lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. The dish is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish; Valencians regard paella as one of their identifying symbols.
Today paella is made in every region of Spain, using just about any kind of ingredient that goes well with rice. There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks. But the authentic Pella’s ingredients are chicken and rabbit, as well as beans and/or artichokes (depending on the season). Saffron is also an essential part of the dish. This spice turns the rice a wonderful golden colour.
TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA (SPANISH OMELETTE)
Tortilla Española, referred to in the English language as Spanish Omelette, is a typical Spanish dish consisting of an egg omelette made with added potatoes and fried in vegetable oil
The Spanish tortilla (Tortilla de patatas in Spain) is the most common gastronomic specialty found throughout Spain. While there are numerous regional variations, the most common version is the one made only with eggs and potatoes, and possibly onion. The addition of the onion is often controversial and usually related to the tenderness of the local varieties of potatoes. To avoid confusions some restaurants distinguish between the Tortilla de patatas (pure) and theTortilla de patatas con cebolla (with onion).
The tortilla may be eaten hot or cold; it is commonly served as a tapa or picnic dish throughout Spain. As a tapa, it may be cut into bite-size pieces and served on cocktail sticks, or cut into pie style (triangle) portions (pincho de tortilla).
JAMÓN IBÉRICO (IBERIAN HAM)
Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham), is a type of cured ham produced mostly in Spain, but also in some Portuguese regions. According to Spain’s Denominación de Origen (Designation of Origin) rules on food products, the jamón ibérico may be made from black Iberian pigs, or cross-bred pigs as long as they are at least 75% ibérico.
Jamón ibérico, which only accounts for about 8% of Spain’s cured-ham production, is very expensive and not widely available abroad.
The hams are labeled according to the pigs’ diet. The finest is called jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn). This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. It is also known as jamón ibérico de Montanera. The exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat; the ham is cured for 36 months.
Jamones de bellota are prized both for their smooth texture and rich, savory taste. A good ibérico ham has regular flecks of intramuscular fat (marbling). Because of the pig’s diet of acorns, much of the fat is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.
The fat content is relatively high compared to jamón serrano, thus giving a rich taste.