Last May, I backpacked around Spain with my best friend, Sofia. It was an amazing trip filled with art, history, and adventure. What I miss most, however, is Spain’s food. Here’s a list of the six foods I crave most frequently.
Just writing this, my mouth started watering. Croquetas are made by breading and frying small ellipsoid-shaped food. Although ham croquetas are the most common, they can be made with really anything. I tried (and loved) spinach, mushroom, bacalao (cod), and chicken croquetas. Creamy and sometimes cheesy, croquetas are incredibly filling, making them a quick and affordable lunch when you are on the go!
5. Pimientos de Padrón
Pimientos de Padrón are small, green peppers blistered in olive oil with coarse sea salt. We’d often order these before dinner as a light, fairly healthy snack. They are especially fun to eat because, while most of the peppers are sweet, occasionally one will be very spicy—this fun surprise certainly kept our dinners exciting!
Traditionally from Valencia, paella is a dish made with rice and seafood, and, occasionally, vegetables. We really enjoyed trying many different types of paella. I found the dish to be both a comfort food (mainly due to the rice) and also an exciting meal. So, if you want to explore Spanish food but are feeling nervous, you should order paella—vegetarian if you don’t like seafood. On the other hand, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, consider trying arroz negro, a dish similar to paella made with squid and black rice. (The rice is black because it’s dyed with squid ink!)
3. Huevos Estrellados
This meal is made of two eggs sunny-side up on top of ham and potatoes—it sounds incredibly simple, I know. And yet, huevos estrellados (also known as huevos rotos) are so good! Widely available in most of Spain, huevos estrellados became my favorite way to try different varieties of local, cured hams. (I’m less keen on eating the ham on its own.) They quickly became my Spanish brunch staple, although I also had them for dinner once after a very long day of exploring. Another potato-based food we ordered frequently was patatas bravas, which are potato wedges with a typically spicy sauce on top—the sauce itself varies by region and restaurant. Both foods sound easy enough to replicate, and yet I have been unable to recreate them here in Boston, so be sure to eat them if you’re ever in Spain!
2. Morcilla Negra
Don’t be alarmed by the name. While the translation, “blood sausage,” sounds strange at best and terrifying at worst, it is a must-eat in Spain. It’s made with… blood, meat, and fat. While morcilla negra is a food you might hope would be a misnomer but isn’t, don’t let that keep you from trying it! It’s delicious! (Trust me! I’m just a stranger on the Internet!) In fact, every time I saw morcilla negra on a menu, I would have to order it. Most often, it came on its own as an appetizer or tapa without any pesky sauces to distract from its unique taste. Unless you don’t eat or like meat, you should definitely give it a go!
You’ve probably heard a lot about salmorejo’s fashionable cousin, gazpacho—a chilled tomato-based soup. But if you haven’t tried salmorejo yet, you are really missing out! Thicker than and yet also very similar to gazpacho, and usually served with olive oil and pieces of ham on top, salmorejo comes from Córdoba and, despite its name, contains no salmon. It is my favorite Spanish food. And yet, I’ve found that most people have never heard of it. Spread the word! Salmorejo is delicious, and, if you’ve never had the pleasure of eating it, it should fly up to the top of your “foods to try” list! (You’re welcome.)