* Rating based on personal preference, taste varies depending on region and restaurant. All photos displayed are taken from my study abroad trip from my iPhone.
Chocolate con churros (5/5)
You can’t go wrong with chocolate and churros! In Spain, this is a popular dessert, and the churros are served with thick, melted chocolate. Personally the darker the chocolate the better, and dipping it into crunchy churros with a soft middle… pure perfection. The churros are simply fried and served without any toppings, unlike America where you often receive them with cinnamon and sugar. I had this dessert twice in Madrid and would recommend getting them at Chocolatería San Ginés. This dish is often served with multiple churros and a large cup of chocolate so one order can satisfy a few people. It is rich, so a few go a long way.
This is an alcoholic beverage originating from Spain and Portugal, and can only be labeled or marketed as Sangria in this region due to EU regulations. That being said, this drink is delicious on a hot day as it is served with ice and a variety of fruits. It is similar to the flavor of punch and is made from Spanish red wine, brandy, orange juice, or some other sweet drink, with chopped fruits. Though locals rarely consume this drink, it is popular amongst tourists and is served practically at every bar and restaurant. Though this drink taste innocent, it does carry alcohol so drink the delicious concoction with caution.
I tried empanadas three times while abroad, once in a market in Madrid and twice in a restaurant in Malaga. I loved empanadas because they were fast and cheap. They were so many different flavors to choose from, with different proteins, cheeses, and veggies. I found myself levitating toward savory empanadas such as ones stuffed with chorizo, rather than those that were vegan such as feta and spinach. The best empanadas I had were in Malaga at a restaurant called Empanadas Malvón. I ate there twice in the span of a few days and would recommend it!
Jamón ibérico (4/5)
Iberian ham is cured meat rooted in a breed of pigs that are black, with very little hair, and indigenous to the Andalucia area. Often the legs or shoulders of the pig are utilized and very thin slices of meat are cut off and served often with bread and cheese. This product is almost impossible to find in the United States and visitors and not allowed to bring it home due to the fear of swine fever. It’s served at room temperature so that the high-fat content will be soft and melt in your mouth to release a savory, smooth, salty flavor. The texture is similar to prosciutto. It’s a must-try when visiting Spain! There was an odd nutty or earthy aftertaste that always threw my palette off a little but otherwise pretty tasty.
With Iberian ham being so popular, it comes as no surprise that chorizo is also a popular item in Spain as it is made from chopped pork meat. This is hard to rate as chorizo comes in many different flavors such as smoked, spicy, sweet, dry-cured, etc. No matter the flavor, I found myself constantly enjoying this dish. My personal favorite is smoked chorizo and my least favorite is the sweet chorizo. Chorizo is never served alone and is often served with tapas or in empanadas.
Tortilla española (4/5)
A Spanish omelet is made generally made with a few simple ingredients consisting of egg, potato, and onion. I ate this for breakfast almost every day as it was served at the various hotels I stayed at but also because it was filling and satisfied my early morning breakfast tooth. It’s a very safe dish to try if you are scared of venturing into unknown territory and satisfies the American taste buds. It can be bland or flavorful depending on where it is purchased.
Cuttlefish (Sepia) is popular in Spain as it is between a squid and an octopus. I ordered this to branch out and was served a whole filet with only a green salty sauce drizzled over the top. I found the texture to be the most off-putting as it was rubbery and chewy. Again, I have never eaten the delicacy before which is why I was thrown off. In America, I have only had fried squid or octopus, which masks the chewiness of the seafood with the crunch of the fried panko. There was nothing to mask the toughness of the fish, but I will say it had no strong flavor and was rather bland otherwise. It truly was just the texture that made me dislike the dish.
Originally from Cordoba, it’s one of Spain’s most popular dishes. It’s typically made of tomatoes, bread, olive oil, and garlic. It has pink-orange color and almost tastes like it has cream due to its thickness and texture. It is essentially a cold tomato soup topped with Iberian ham. I tried this dish in various cities and the taste varied. The soups that had a stronger garlic flavor were the ones I enjoyed more but I could never get over the temperature. I knew if it was served hot I would’ve been able to eat and enjoy it more but that’s just because it’s how I grew up eating tomato soup.
Seafood Paella (3/5)
Paella is a popular Spanish dish, with this specific seafood dish popular amongst the coast in cities like Malaga. Paella or Spanish rice is cooked in a broth with saffron and different proteins such as chicken, rabbit, seafood, etc. The seafood paella I tried was at a restaurant in Madrid (probably my first mistake as it wasn’t on the coast). The dish consisted of a prawn, squid, clams, and muscle. Essentially, all the proteins I tried were items I had not eaten in America but I was willing to try them all. The prawn was served whole and needed to be dissected to be consumed. The prawn meat was sweet and tender which was interesting as I was expecting a meat similar to shrimp. The clams were small and pretty tasty and I couldn’t break the muscle open so I only got small pieces. The main reason why this dish scored so low was because the rice was very salty. It tasted strongly of ocean water and I wasn’t able to taste anything else. I will say that I later tried paella with chicken and rabbit and it was DELICIOUS, but I’m assuming they used a different broth rather than fish broth like the seafood paella which is why I liked it more.