Spain food has been an integral part of Spanish culture for centuries, so deeply embedded into national customs and traditions that food is on the front lines in every way during daily life and special events and holidays. Spain food culture is an attraction all its own and there is plenty to do and see that revolves around drinking and eating. Spanish food unites family, friends, and even strangers, and it is in every essence the way of life in Spain. Each region presents a new spin on classic Spanish specialities, making culinary journeys true eating adventures.
A little Spanish goes a long way when deciphering the many Spanish-only restaurant menus and navigating through countless delicious choices. Another travel tip that might be surprising to some on Spain vacations is that even the best restaurants in Spain don’t generally open up until 9 p.m. This is an important part of Spain food culture. People simply don’t eat dinner until much later than many other European countries. The daily process differs in that Spanish always eat a large lunch—almost the equivalent to what many outsiders consider dinner. Then, when evening arrives, Spanish tapas are dug into as the social hour ensues. Dining on tapas throughout the evening and then having a late, light dinner, between 9 p.m. and up to midnight, is an everyday occurrence for Spanish nationals.
World famous and concocted in innumerable ways with countless different ingredients, tapas are the highlight of any traveler's palette. It is said tapas, such as simple pieces of ham, originated as covers for drinking glasses to keeping insects out. They can essentially be any type of smaller food item that is served with drinks. Tapas are an intrinsic part of Spanish food culture and come in such a wide variety exploring all the possibilities is simply impossible. Restaurants throughout Granada are renowned for serving a wide array of free tapas, a notable point among travelers on Spanish holidays.
From a simple garlic oil-rubbed baguette to small, succulent deep-fried squid (chopitos or puntillitas) to chorizo and sauteed prawns, tapas are one Spanish food that is unlimited in popularity. This laudable segment on the dining circuit in Spain is admired around the world and available through an array of Spanish-inspired snacks, which is exactly what tapas are. They are not an appetizer to enjoy directly before a meal, rather a common snack enjoyed post-work and pre-dinner (or any time for that matter), eaten at bars, restaurants, or at home. Tapas crawls are one of the undeniable treats of Spanish nightlife.
Spain food has always been a large part of life throughout history. Garlic, olive oil, and olives date back centuries as three of the most cherished of all Spain food items. Meat is another main component in most dishes with popular meats like rabbit, pork, chicken, and sausages commonly found in meals. Prosciuto, a type of cured ham, is a famous meat found in most markets, like La Boqueria off La Rambla in Barcelona, as are fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of meats, specialty cheeses, and other popular Spain food. Fresh seafood is another favorite widely eaten around the country, especially in cities along coastal routes near Cadiz, Malaga, and Alicante.
With Spain food culture fused into all aspects of daily life, there abounding dining options all over the country. Small cafes serve up simple breakfasts and hearty lunches, and restaurants offer an incredible array of foods, many with Arab and Moorish influences. Visitors with vacation rentals will have the opportunity to peruse small shops and markets which is an interesting and eye-opening experience. Spanish food is irresistible, readily available, and easy on the palette which means even the pickiest of eaters will find delectable choices.