From Paella to Potato Omelette: A History of Spanish Cuisine

By the time you have finished reading this article, we guarantee that you will be drooling and hungry. Why? Well for one simple reason; Spanish food is delicious. It is full to the brim of unique flavours, textures and colours.

The country’s history, culture and society have heavily influenced the way Spaniards eat. But the cuisine is not just isolated to Spain. The recipes have transcended boundaries and borders to become popular across the globe.

Spanish food can be found everywhere and it is renowned for being healthy due to its varied dishes that consist of fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood. Have we whet your appetite yet? Read on to learn all you need to know about traditional Spanish cooking.

It all started back in the Roman era…

The Roman army survived on lentils as they were easy to transport and preserve, and fava beans were looked upon as luxurious delicacy, considered as sacred. This brought about the tradition of using fava beans to choose the king of a festival, and the modern day custom of hiding an object in the ‘roscon de reyes’; a Spanish cake pastry eaten to celebrate the Epiphany feast day.

Further foods which were popular include chickpeas and mushrooms and they didn’t use forks to eat but spoons. The exportation of pork-based products became a fundamental contributor to the local economy.

What are traditional dishes?

  • Tantalising tapas

Tapas are very popular tradition and it comprises of eating lots of small entrees. It is much healthier in contrast to eating large portions of food.

Recipes can include anything from appetisers and finger food to canapés such as olives, cheese, meatballs, bread, tomatoes, battered squid, chorizo sausage, and scallops.

The word ‘tapas’ is derived from the Spanish verb tapar which means ‘to cover.’

  • Provoking paella

Paella can come in various forms be it rice based with green vegetables and meat (Valencian); with seafood; or mixed paella which is a combination of meat, vegetables and seafood.

Seafood paella is the most popular option with prawns and mussels as it is more traditional. It is pronounced ‘pah-eh-ya’ and its origin dates back to the mid-19th century in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain.

  • Potato omelette

Otherwise called tortilla, the Spanish omelette is made with potato and onion and it is fried in olive oil, with cheese on top. It can be served with mushrooms, or fish like prawns.

The proper Spanish name is either tortilla de patatas, tortilla española or tortilla de papas depending on the region.

The very first reference of the dish goes all the way back to 1817.

  • Scrumptious Sangria

It is extremely difficult to write about Spanish cuisine and not mention Sangria. It is a classic wine punch which is perfect to drink on a hot day.

The alcoholic beverage usually includes chopped fruit like oranges, apples, limes and pineapple, as well as wine and a small amount of brandy.

Sangria is named after the Spanish word ‘sangre’ which means ‘blood’ because of its dark-red colour and it first became well known in the 1800s, where it was used for all parties.

Famous Spanish names/chefs that have transformed the culinary world;

  • Ferran Adria
  • Carme Ruscalleda
  • Martin Berasategui
  • Ilan Hall
  • Angel Muro

Spanish cooking is inviting, invigorating and full of enchanting food. Enjoy delicious sheep, lamb, beef, cheese and seafood to your heart’s content! Passionate for any of the food mentioned above, check out some recipes here and here.

This article was provided by Hotel Sis Pins, a Spanish Majorca hotel based in Pollensa. Enjoy fantastic weather, fun activities and taste delicious Spanish cuisine at the beachside resort.

4 Responses to From Paella to Potato Omelette: A History of Spanish Cuisine

  1. Paddy Waller January 9, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Tortilla de patata with cheese?????

  2. Nico January 15, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    Like you promised, I’m already drooling 🙂

  3. Andy January 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    I didn’t realize that the Romans had an influence on Spanish cuisine. I guess that makes plenty of sense though since they are everywhere. I would have thought that the Moors would have been more influential being that it was more recent. Definitely enjoy me some Paella though 🙂 Now, I am going to get lunch. Almuerzo… I am coming for you.


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