If you are visiting Andalusia for the first time, be sure to check out the cities of Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Cadiz, Almeria, Huelva, Jaen, and of course, Granada. You will find it easy to get around by train or bus.
There are so many wonderful foods and drinks to try, and I have written more about them on my own travel blog, Piccavey. In this post I will simply highlight a few key dishes as a basic introduction.
Tostada con Tomate (toast with tomato)
Andalusia is the largest producer of olive oil in the world, so it is no wonder that you will find oil as an essential ingredient. At the breakfast table you can have your choice of local pastries with your coffee, but most prefer a half or whole baguette toast topped with a slice of cured ham (typically jamon serrano) or chopped tomato and drizzled with olive oil. In Granada you can sometimes find avocado on toast as its grown locally on Costa Tropical.
Churros con Chocolate
For breakfast or later in the day for an afternoon snack, a plate of churros (strips of fried dough) accompanied by a cup of thick hot chocolate for dipping is what many people crave. True, you can find this item on menus all over Spain but here in southern Spain it just seems there is special love for this sweet treat.
If you enjoy eating a ripe orange or drinking a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, you have come to the right place. Andalusia farmers grow and harvest tons and tons of this popular citrus fruit. You will also find orange slices topping many salads and the juice used in many sauces and in cocktails too. Many cities have streets lined with decorative orange trees. But do not pick and eat because these oranges are bitter tasting! They are used for marmalades.
Lunch is a biggest meal of the day in Spain. Quite often lunch begins with a serving of a soup or a salad. Most people have heard of gazpacho, a cold and slightly spicy tomato pureed soup. Salmorejo is similar to a gazpacho soup, but it is thicker and creamier as it is thickened with bread crumbs. It may have a slight pink color instead of red. The soup is usually topped with bits of diced cured ham and hard-boiled egg.
This is an old style dish made popular during the winter months by the common peasants. It is a hearty stew of meats and vegetables slowly simmered in a pot that could feed a family over several days. Typically it contains chickpeas and one or more types of meat - chicken, pork, and sausage. Potatoes, carrots, or other root vegetables, plus tomatoes, cabbage, and garlic and water are all added to the pot. The stew is served with rice or noodles. In Granada it is often made with fennel.
Basically this is a plate of fried fish. Andalusia sits on the Mediterranean Sea coast at its most southern points, so fishing is a traditional occupation. Most common are the small fish such as anchovies and sardines, but small squids or other fish species may be offered on the menu. The fish is covered in flour and fried in a deep vat of hot olive oil, then plated and sprinkled with salt and perhaps a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It is simply made and simply delish!
Salt cod is a seafood staple in countries like the UK, Portugal, and also here in Spain. There are variations of the fried cod fish found in the different regions of Andalusia; some will fry the fish in a tomato base instead of just oil for example. The fish may be served with boiled potatoes and onions or other sides. It is most typically served around the Easter holiday as meat is not eaten over lent.
This is the king of dry cured hams, the meat comes from a certain breed of black pigs. Yes, it is an expensive delicacy, all that means is you have to try it at least once in your life! If you eat pork, I guarantee you have never tasted anything even close to a thin slice of jamon iberico. Even more mind-blowing, the taste will vary from different parts of Andalusia depending on how the pigs are raised and what grains and foods they are fed. You can find dried jamon iberico slices on top of many appetizers presented in tapas bars.
Dinner is a late night meal because Spaniards traditionally took a mid-afternoon break from work for a short rest and then resumed working until mid-evening. Well, you can get hungry between lunch and a late dinner. So will you see many people consuming some sort of afternoon snack. This could be an ice cream or yogurt, or churros con chocolate, or fruit. The migas dish was developed as a way of using leftovers from other meals. It translates as crumbs in English, usually referring to bread crumbs. These are mixed with whatever is leftover, could be fried sardines, onions and peppers, garlic, melon, ham, sausage, and of course, a bit of olive oil. Because migas is a hearty dish, it is usually eaten at lunchtime.
In Andalusia these rich and tasty cookies are made using an almond shortbread recipe that goes back hundreds of years. Made with lard (pig fat), these cookies are dusted on top with powdered sugar. They come in varieties of flavoring per region such as anise or orange. Enjoy them with a cup of coffee or hot tea.
If you are a connoisseur of fine liquors, then this locally produced dry sherry is a must for you to sample. Sherry is an aged fortified wine made from white grapes. It may be served cold in a small glass as a starter before the rest of your lunch is brought to the table. You will see fino offered along with an array of wines and beers in most tapas bars. Fino is wonderful paired with small plates of jamon iberico and shellfish.
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