In Spain, food plays an important part in the culture and daily life in the big cities as well as small. The typical custom is that stores and businesses close between 2pm-5pm to enjoy a rest that is mainly spent at various restaurants. Businesses have complete opposite schedules than the restaurants which open from 1:30pm-4:30pm, close, and then reopen from 8:30 – 11:30 every day. Spain has 4 normal eating times starting with desayuno, almuerzo, comida, and then cena.
There are many typical Spanish foods that are well known and many that aren’t as “main stream” that make up these important parts of the Spanish life.
To start with the most typical ones:
Paella is probably the most well-known food from Spain. Paella actually originated in the Valencia area from a small town called El Par Mar. This place is just a 30min bus ride from the city center of Valencia and offers some of the best paella you can find in Spain. Many restaurants offer paella valenciana that has a variety of fish or other things thrown in the pan, but true paella valenciana has chicken, rabbit, and special types of green bean and a white bean. This was definitely one of my favorite dishes while in Spain, especially because is originated in Valencia.
Also an extremely well known dish, tapas are an easy and fun way to try half the menu with a group of friends without breaking the bank or over stuffing yourself. Tapas came from the Andalucía region of Spain, so it is typical to get a tapa with your drink in some bars in that area which is always a plus.
Getting a little less typical are the bocadillos that are an easy find wherever you go in Spain. The most traditional is the española, which comes on a small baguette type of bread with Spanish tortilla, a mixture of potato and egg. This is kind of a combination of typical food, but they come together so much it was hard not to put them together. Bocadillos can have tons of different things on them and there are a few different types of tortillas as well, but my favorite and the most typical as I said is the bocadillo de tortilla española.
Patatas bravas are another one of my go to dishes. They are chunks of potatoes that have been fried and topped with a mayonnaise and salsa brava or with aioli sometimes. This is usually a starter at restaurants or at least a tapa that can be selected.
Becoming a little more obscure, tostada de tomate was something I didn’t discover until I was more than half way through my study abroad experience, which honestly kind of sucks. This turned into my go to snack on the university because it was so good and so cheap. This is basically a toasted baguette sort of bread with tomato sauce put over it. I would sometimes get it with fresh cheese as well. One of my absolute favorites.
This is my small list of favorite foods that I have enjoyed while being in Spain. I know I have missed some and there are other Spanish foods that I have had here not on this list, but they are not my favorite. Everyone should try all the typical Spanish foods, but these are my must tries for anyone going to Spain!