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Spanish Cuisine

Traditional Spanish dishes are based on the local crops and ingredients found regionally. Because of this, food in Spain can vary significantly depending on which region you are visiting.
Few dishes can be considered common to all or almost all of Spain. Examples include most importantly tortilla (potato omelet), paella, various stews, migas, sausages, jamón serrano, and cheeses, especially the Manchego cheese

The Spanish cook makes sure that the pantry is well-stocked with the essential ingredients used daily in 
Spanish food. Spanish cooking uses lots of olive oil, garlic, fresh or canned tomatoes.

Essential ingredients are : Olive oil, fresh garlic, peppers and paprika, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes and tomato sauce, spanish wine, parsle, onions, rosemary, thyme, oregano and saffron, french-style bread, milk.

Spanish cooking has popular roots. It is the people’s cuisine. Most of it is down-to-earth, uncomplicated food, based on the ingredients available locally or the crops grown regionally.

Spain sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, so the Spanish diet is definitely Mediterranean. Fresh fruits, vegetables and fish are eaten in abundance, along with lots of healthy olive oil and garlic. Meat, poultry and game are eaten in smaller quantities. Spanish wine accompanies most meals.

Generally, Spain can be divided into six culinary regions:- The North of Spain where we find lots of sauces and seafood, such as the regions of
Galicia and Asturias.- The Pyrenees, Catalan Pyrenees and Aragonese Pyrenees , home of the chilindrones, sautéed peppers, tomatoes and onions dish that accompanies many of the region's dishes.- Cataluña region where casseroles or cazuelas abound.- The Eastern region, which includes the Autonomous Community of Valencia, where the primary dishes are rice-based like the popular    Paella Valenciana.- Andalucia, where fried fish is a staple and bars don't serve a drink witout a tapa to munch on.- Central Spain where roast meats and cocidos or stews dominate the daily diet. This generally would include the region of Castilla-Leon.

The Spanish cuisine originates from different cultures and climates. The Romans set the Spanish cooking base of wheat, olives and grapes. The Arabs added almonds, oranges, rice and saffron. The New World has contributed with chocolate, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. Food in general is not spicy, though the use of garlic throughout Spain is common. The peppers used are generally sweet rather than hot. The Spanish don't eat a lot of pasta or noodles, instead they eat rice, potatoes, beans and bread. The cuisine is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters around the country. The main meats in Spain are lamb and pork, beef is still considered somewhat of a luxury.

The eating habits in Spain differs from most other countries. Breakfast is generally very simple - a cup of coffee and a roll or toast. Many then grab a midmorning snack at around 11:30 or 12:00. Lunch is typically a large 3-course meal and for many the day's main meal. It starts at 13:30 or 14:00 and runs until 16:00, sometimes later. Dinner is often taken at a very late hour, especially during the summer. Most restaurants don't open until 20:30 or 21:00 and stay open until 24:00 or later.

Tapas are probably the concept of Spanish cuisine most admired and imitated around the world. Tapas is eaten throughout the day, and in some areas, especially in Andalucia, you cannot order a drink without getting a tapas as a compliment of the house. A visit to a tapas bar is probably the best way to sample a wide variety of Spanish food. Tapas are usually displayed on or in the bar and it is easy to point at what you want and a tab is being run until you have finished. Tapas can be something as simple as a piece of toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and dipped in olive oil, or a dish of olives. Slices of ham or sausages, cheese, pieces of Spanish tortilla and marinated anchovies are popular. Tapas like meatballs in tomato sauce, stew, garlic mushrooms, shrimp or cooked chorzo (sausage) in wine are also common. 


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