Everybody knows the famous classic dishes of Spanish cuisine, paella perhaps being the most well-know example. But there are an awful lot of others which many visitors perhaps never get to hear about and so miss out on sampling. Above all, the Spanish are seriously addicted to snacks, not only tapas in the evening, but starting at breakfast time and continuing right throughout the day. Here are some gems which you shouldn’t overlook when on holiday in Spain.
1. Chocolate con churros
The Spanish like to eat out at breakfast, and as many of them start work seriously early due to the heat, a lot of people have a mid-morning snack as well, and you will see cafes everywhere crowded. One of the early morning favorites is chocolate con churros, which are so well beloved that some cafes devote themselves to serving them and nothing else. Churros are basically long straight sticks of deep-fried batter, about 2cm thick and anywhere up to 30 cm long. The liquid chocolate which you dip them into is piping hot and thick enough to stand a spoon. A great way to start the day, but seriously rick, so be careful not to overdose.
2. Tostada Catalana
This is another staple café food. It is a small bread roll, cut open and spread with olive oil, garlic, fresh tomato and jamon serrano, Spain’s marvelous air-dried ham, then toasted. Perfect with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
3. Tortilla de patatas
This is another staple tapa, available almost everywhere, even in the smallest café. A huge wedge of potato omelet, sometimes up to 6 or 7 cm thick, it can be served hot or cold and makes a great quick filler to give you energy if you are flagging on the sightseeing trail.
4. Sardinas a la plancha
If you are anywhere near the beach, particularly on the Costa del Sol, you will see lots of beach cafes, some of them little more than huts on the sand, some of them quite sizable building. Outside many of them you will see a small wooden boat, filled with sand, and with a fire burning on top. These serve as barbecues for the freshly caught sardines for which the area is famous. The fish are gutted and cleaned, then threaded onto the long metal skewers on which they are cooked. Delicious, especially with a bottle of ice-cold San Miguel.
5. Berenjenas fritas con miel
Spanish cuisine sometimes produces some odd but wonderful combinations, and this is one of my absolute favorites. Thin slices of eggplant, covered in batter and deep fried, then served with a jug of honey which you can dribble all over them. It sounds strange, but it tastes wonderful. It isn’t a common dish though, so it may take a bit of asking around until you find a place which serves it, but if you can track it down then it is well worth the effort.