Jamón: I think ham is one of Spain's most prized foods, especially in Sevilla. From day one in my Food & Wine class, I knew that ham was the meat of choice for Spaniards. It comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging from little fat to more than plenty amounts of fat. For anyone who is planning to come to Spain, I will share the "secret" of the best ham to eat here: it's called jamón ibérico de bellota, which means Iberian ham (of acorns, which refers to the Iberian pigs' diet).
Paella: I think that this is one of the most well-known Spanish dishes (although I must admit, I did not hear about it until I was already on the plane and on my way to Spain). A common misunderstanding is that this rice dish is from Andalusia (southern Spain); however, paella actually originally comes from Valencia (eastern Spain).
During the dictatorship of Franco, the goal was to unify Spain - so, Franco created an idealized and "unified" version of Spain in which Castilian Spanish was the "official" language of Spain, flamenco and bullfighting were popular Spanish traditions, and paella was a common Spanish dish. While these are still true (Castilian is still one of the official languages of Spain), they have been preserved now because it is the average tourist's expectations of Spanish culture (even though not every region speaks Castilian Spanish, flamenco is from southern Spain, and paella is from Valencia).
Tortilla de Patatas: Okay, so chicken isn't much of a surprise or very different from "American" chicken, but the Spanish omelette is definitely a common Spanish dish. It's a fairly simple recipe and I think it's delicious (although I wouldn't eat it every day). It is essentially an egg and potato omelette, and it's especially good if you pair it with some type of salsa (sauce) to add some more flavor. I have also seen bocadillos de tortilla de patatas, which is a Spanish omelette sandwich - I haven't actually tried it though, because it just seems like too much potatoes and bread in one sitting.
Café: Coffee! Not only is it popular in the States, but surprise, surprise, it is a very popular drink in Spain, too! There are many different types of coffee drinks here, but I will just explain a few of them. As mentioned in the picture above, café con leche is equal part coffee and milk (and it's my favorite coffee drink here). On the other hand, there is also café manchado, which is mostly coffee with a little "stain" of milk (perfect for anyone who prefers only a little milk with their coffee!). I have also heard (but not personally tried), that there is leche manchada, which is mostly milk with a little "stain" of coffee (so, I've been told it's more like "coffee-flavored milk" than coffee...).
York Queso, Jamón, and Ghost-Shaped Chips: So I know this isn't exactly typical Spanish cuisine, but I thought this would be fun to share anyways. The bag on the left is "york queso," which I later discovered is a type of ham and cheese sandwich. Honestly, these chips just tasted like some type of cheese... The middle bag is "ham-flavored"! Kind of weird. But strangely, they tasted kind of good. At first, I thought they were just extra salty chips (have I mentioned yet that Spaniards put salt in everything?!), but then there's a subtle jamón aftertaste! And lastly, the ghost-shaped Cheetos, which did not really taste like Cheetos. But they were fun to eat!
Castañas: Aw, these made me feel like it's Christmastime. I definitely wasn't singing about "chestnuts roasting over an open fire," though... Who, me? But anyways, I don't think I've ever really had these, despite what the song says about eating them at Christmastime. They were warm and much sweeter than anticipated. The hardest part about eating them was breaking through the shell and the fuzz, but it was fun, too!
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