Last time we looked at Spanish cuisine. We read how various people invaded the country, unified it and left an indelible mark on the food of the Spanish. We also got to know that it was the Romans who popularised the use of Spanish olives and played a major role in making and promoting Spanish olive oil far and wide. We learnt that it was the Moors or the Arabs who introduced Spaniards to sugar made from sugarcane, a product that they brought, among others like rice and eggplant. Today let us dig further into the gastronomical delights Spain has to offer us.
One thing the whole of Spain takes very seriously is the ham they eat. Jamon Serrano, or cured ham coming from the sierras or mountains, is very popular. Jamon Iberico, or Iberian Ham, is also sought after. Spaniards will pay a high price for the best quality ham and if you were to visit Spain you would find ham featuring in almost all eatery menus in one form or another.
You will be surprised to know that they are so obsessive about their ham that there are even dedicated museums to jamon, or ham.
Chorizo, a seasonal pork sausage made with paprika, is very popular. Every family generally makes their own sausages during the winter months and hangs them in the attic to dry. There are many varieties of chorizo. Some are fresh and others soft, while some are aged and others smoked. Chorizos are also consumed in Mexico and the Carribbean but the preparation and spices vary in each area. While Mexicans use fresh pork the Spanish use smoked pork. Chorizo can be eaten as part of a sandwich, it can be fried or grilled, or just added to a dish for flavour.
Cheese of any and every type is eaten in Spain with great gusto. Made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk, many varieties of cheese are consumed in Spain. This is also a result of the varied geography of the land, where a wide variety of animals are reared. Cheese from mixed milk is also popular. Spanish cheese is an outcome of the traditional knowledge and numerous cultures inhabiting the mountains and plains of Spain. Among the many varieties of cheese found in the country 23 have been designated as Protected Designation of Origin by Spain and the European Union.
Spain’s cold soups and seafood come highly recommended. For the time being it is Buen provecho, or wishing everyone a good meal.