Food is often the catalyst that brings people together. Great food, the kind that doesn't just feed your belly, but feeds your soul, is often unique to the area it is in. Some of my favorite food, I found in Spain. There was so much to see, to try, to love. Not all of it was soul warming, but there was some, I can't wait to eat again! Spain, like many other countries, has different dialects in the language, different words to describe certain things, and different specialities depending on where you are at. Northern Spain is Basque. The language is influenced by this, and so is the food. If you head over to Barcelona, everything gets a heavier influence from the Catalonians. Being in northern Spain, you will have plenty of opportunities to try pintxos (pronounced pēnch-ohs). The further south you go, you will have tapas galore. These are small snacks or plates of food, that are as exceptional as they are delicious! Where in the country you are at, depends on what you call them. Spain borders the sea on multiple sides. The Atlantic Ocean is to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Seafood is one of the delectable options on many of the menus. One of the best things I tried, was a white fish in an olive oil with crispy onions (like what you find in onion salt). I had no idea something that appears this simple could taste so spectacular, but rest assured, it can.
The most prominent of all the fish items I saw though, and sit back because this can be unexpected, sardines! Yes, you read that correctly. There were so many sardine dishes, that were divine. I had no idea sardines could be so tempting, but to my pleasant enchanting amazement, these little fish packed a major punch, in all the right ways!
One famous dish that got it's start in Spain, paella. Born in Valencia, on the Mediterranean Sea, this extraordinary rice dish is a meal all it's own. The rice is a bit crunchy, in all the right ways, and seasoned with so much flavor, you can't help but close your eyes as you relish that first bite. Served with everything from exquisite fish and shellfish, to chorizo and other meats, paella is dish best shared with others and washed down with good wine.
However, if you have ever been to Spain, or plan on making a visit, you should know, above everything else you will eat, pork is king. That's right, the jamon rules, and has most certainly earned the throne. You have everything from Iberico, the best of the best, to the Serrano, suckling pig, bacon, it is like your mouth is winning the lottery with every bite! Served on everything from pieces of toast to baguettes, by itself or with olives. Every way, is a win!
All of these pork dishes, there are not even words to describe how delicious they are. I can't wait to make some of these dishes at home. While Iberico ham can cost a small fortune to buy in the States, it is such a delectable treat. Another, fabulous, and somewhat famous, Spanish pork I had, blood sausage. I was apprehensive about this, expecting it to have a heavier iron or metallic flavor. I was wrong. Prepared correctly, this dish is warm, it is filling, it is savory, in one word, it is heavenly. I had it served with an egg on top, and let me just tell you, if you have the chance to try this dish, do yourself a favor and say si!!!
Trying new foods in different countries is one of the best ways to connect to their culture. In the country of Spain, the people are kind and proud and they put heart and soul into the food they serve. You don't have to speak Spanish to understand or taste this. So regardless of which part of the country you are in, if you have the opportunity to experience any of it, I highly recommend it!