Without a doubt, one of the best aspects of living in Spain is the food. The Mediterranean countries are famous for their particular cuisine, which makes use of fresh ingredients blended together perfectly in simple recipes. Strong flavors such as extra virgin olive oil, cured ham, garlic, paprika, red wine, and others are used to create the signature taste that makes dishes from this part of the world instantly recognizable.

Lying strategically between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Spain has developed unique gastronomy; the traditional recipes that form the canon of Spanish cooking are unlike those of any other country in the region. The Spanish, however, not having emigrated to the United States en masse, have not marketed their food and recipes to the extent that Italians and Greeks have, and a result, their cuisine is not as well known to Americans. So, if you’re planning on coming to Spain at some point, be prepared to enjoy the food, and of course, learn a recipe or two while you’re at it — you may find yourself back stateside or in some far corner of the world craving dished that you enjoyed while in country.

Spanish omelete

Spanish Omelet

The most well-known dish in Spanish cooking is by far tortilla de patatas, or Spanish omelet. This basic creation makes use of staple ingredients found on the Iberian Peninsula: eggs and potatoes. Although a very common dish, there are many ways to prepare it, as well as a number of variations on the traditional recipe. However, the big debate regarding the recipe is whether Spanish omelet is better when cooked with onions or not. Such a debate has undoubtedly led to arguments at more than one dining room table and perhaps even been the cause of family quarrels. Ok, maybe not really, but people seem to be quite divided on the issue. What is for certain is that the best tortilla in all of Spain is always the one prepared by one’s mother, grandmother, aunt, or other family member, or in some cases by a particular restaurant which is worth traveling far and wide to get to in order to have a pincho, or small serving. Nonetheless, this will definitely be a dish you’ll want to know how to prepare for when you return home or move on elsewhere. This is one of many possible recipes of the Spanish Omelet.

How to make lentils

Another common dish is lentejas, or lentils. If you’re unfamiliar with this food, it’s likely that you’re not quite sure what it is, but know that it’s popular in America with foodies and vegetarians. So, although lentils are considered a health food of sorts in the United States, in Spain they are a staple of people’s diet. Similar to Spanish omelet, there are countless ways to make lentejas, ranging from a basic soup to a full on stew. The soup version usually contains just the lentils with garlic, onion, and bay leaves for seasoning, whereas when they are prepared as a stew, a whole host of ingredients are added, such as carrots, potatoes, morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo, and pork fatback. These two main variants tend to divide Spaniards in the same way as preparing tortilla with or without onions; some people refuse to eat lentil soup because of its runny consistency, while others find lentejas estofadas, or the stew version, to be too heavy on their stomach. In any case, depending on the season, one is usually better than the other; during the warmer months, the soup is preferable, but during the winter the stew is ideal. Here’s the recipe of a variant of this dish of lentils.

 Gazpacho

Recipe of gazpacho

Have you ever sat next to someone on a plane who ordered tomato juice? Or maybe had an uncle who drank Bloody Marys? If so, you probably turned your nose up at the idea, thinking “how can they drink that?” to yourself. So, before you do the same, you definitely have to try another of Spain’s signature dishes: gazpacho. Made primarily from tomatoes, gazpacho is a form of cold tomato soup, although it can also be drunk from a glass as if it were a beverage, as well. Primarily served in the spring and summer, this Spanish creation is the perfect way to combat the heat with fresh ingredients, and also replenishing sodium in your body that tends to get flushed out after drinking so much water to combat the intense heat. Whether you’ve tried similar dishes in the past or not, you’ll certainly take a quick liking to gazpacho. And don’t worry, it doesn’t taste anything like that awful ready-made marinara sauce that is sold in every grocery store in America. Take a look at this recipe of gazpacho.

As you can imagine, Spanish cuisine is rich in recipes and variations of recipes, such that you’ll certainly never get bored provided you like Mediterranean food. These dishes here, however, are just the tip of the iceberg. Once here in Spain it will be up to you to find out what you like. One thing is for certain, though — you won’t be disappointed!