Cuisine of Spain is Among the World’s Healthiest
The huge variety of dishes in Spanish cuisine is due to a tremendous number of influences upon food in that country. Geography, culture and climate have all affected what people eat in Spain.
For example, the seafood from the waters that surround the country has made its mark on Spanish cuisine; Spaniards are the second biggest consumers of fish, next to the Japanese.
A long history of interaction with nations around the world has resulted in an almost overwhelming range of recipes. The international influences are most obvious in the Catalonian city of Barcelona. A visitor to this Mediterranean metropolis would see a shop selling ready-made falafels next to a restaurant featuring Asian food in close proximity to a traditional tapas bar. The variety is obvious immediately upon landing at any Spanish airport.
A phrase that is heard often in Spain but spoken in heavily-accented English is “Spain is different.” It is a sentiment that can be applied to Spanish culture in general, but is especially true regarding cuisine. A tourist will find that Spain can be very different – delightfully so - than anywhere else when it comes to sitting down to a meal.
A 2010 economic study by La Caixa, a Spanish bank, reported that there is one bar and/or restaurant for every 129 Spaniards, a staggering ratio. The reason for this is simple: food and drink play a very important role in Spanish culture.
In Spain, most bars are de facto restaurants, serving everything from appetizers to full meals. They are the chief social gathering places in Spanish culture, where people meet to have conversations, coffee, watch soccer games, and of course eat and drink. A typical bar will boast an interesting array of “ponchos” or “tapas,” or snacks, that vary by region and are often discounted or even included in the drink price. Most bars will also offer daily menus, “platos combinados,” which is one plate of various items, and large appetizers called “rations,” which are often shared among a whole group for lunch or dinner. Another option is “ir de pinchos,” or going from one bar to the next, sampling a different tapa in each until you essentially had your meal.
Want to try typical Spanish bar fare? Try these taquitos, for instance: http://www.gourmetrecipe.com/recipes/easy-tacquitos. Yes, the dish is Spanish, not Mexican, and can be served as an appetizer or light lunch.
Meatballs served the Spanish way http://www.gourmetrecipe.com/recipes/spicy-spanish-meatballs are definitely not the kind you find in a traditional Italian spaghetti and meatballs recipe. More proof that “Spain is different.”
Whatever recipe you try, all dishes in Spanish cuisine can safely be categorized as Mediterranean. The Spanish are justifiably proud of their Mediterranean diet and often boast that they have the healthiest food in the world. Mediterranean cuisine is often characterized by its huge range of ingredients; meals are based on fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, bread, pasta, rice and other grains, “frutos secos,” or nuts, sunflower seeds and the like, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, fish, seafood, poultry, various types of meat, cheese and yogurt, and of course, wine.
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