The taste of Madrid

Tortilla, paella, jamón, churros, cortado… The names of Spanish dishes sound like music, and their taste often is also pleasing. My November’s visit to Madrid was the perfect opportunity to recall the flavors of Spain.

Most visitors associate Spanish food with the ubiquitous tapas bars. And it’s not surprising, because the snack bars where you can eat many dishes on small plates are a regular part of the landscape. But Spanish cuisine is not just tapas, but also a few other standards, which are worth trying in this country – and worth coming back for.

Firstly: tortilla.

which is simply an omelette with potatoes, and sometimes also with other additives. Maybe this is not a sophisticated dish, but for me it’s a must every time I stay in Spain. Tortilla is a perfect option for breakfast, as it gives you strength for long walks in the city.

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Mini-tortilla.

Secondly, pork.

Spain is famous for its dried, long maturing ham (jamón), which you can buy in slices, eat as an appetizer in restaurants or as an ideal side dish to sangria at the tapas bar. You can even buy it chopped in a paper cone and have this kind of snack during the tour of the city.

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Jamóneria – simply a shop with a lot of ham.

Generally, this country is a paradise for pork-lovers, because this meat is sold here under any form and added to many dishes.

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And there are lots of shops and bars specializing in jamón.

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Pork, pork everywhere.

Thirdly, fish and seafood.

If you are not a fan of pork, then you can always choose fish, which here are fresh and delicious. During my last visit to Madrid I fell in love (again) with the swordfish, called emperador in Spanish, which is rich and hearty, filling your stomach almost like meat.

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Swordfish with boiled potatoes. Simple and delicious.

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Fish graffiti.

Of course, seafood is also great in Spain, so if you prefer something light, don’t hesitate to go for mussels or shrimps. They are all good and cheap :)

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Artichokes and shrimps.

Fourthly, paella.

Paella is one of the Spanish national dishes, so you just have to try it. It’s basically rice flavored with saffron and various additives: all sorts of meat, fish, seafood and vegetables. Paella is quite heavy and rich, so go to the restaurant hungry.

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Paella de casa, with seafood and chicken.

Fifthly, cheese.

Spanish hard cheese is an alternative for those who can no longer eat ham. Perfect for an appetizer or as a snack.

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Spanish cheese.

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You can order cheese at any bar, almost anytime.

Sixthly, churros.

Churros are characteristic longitudinal donuts – and that’s it. Sweet, greasy, usually served with liquid chocolate you can dip them in. Churros are simply one great remorse on the plate. There are, of course, delicious – although two churros are really enough, even for someone with the biggest sweet tooth.

As for drink – take cortado, a simple small coffee, with or without milk.

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Churros and four types of chocolate… Delicious!

To sum up, if I had to bring Spanish cuisine down to a few ingredients, it would be these: ham, cheese, potatoes, peppers and seafood. Most of the dishes are simple and unsophisticated – but do you really need anything more when you are in this sunny country?

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There isn’t more Spanish appetizer than this one.

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