La Cocina Española
Part 1


Spanish Food Facts

1.   In Spain, the main meal of the day is la comida / el almuerzo in the early afternoon.  Typically, it consists of el primer plato - the first course, el segundo plato - the second course, el postre - the dessert, el café - the coffee.  On the table there will be el pan - bread, el agua - water and el vino - wine. 

Some vocabulary:
el desayuno - the breakfast
el almuerzo - the lunch / the mid-day meal
la cena - the evening meal
la merienda - the snack
la bebida - the drink
el postre - the dessert
la comida - the food / the lunch / the meal
¡Buen provecho! - Enjoy your meal!

2.   La paella is one of the most famous dishes of Spain.  It originates from the area of Valencia.   The traditional paella from this area is called la paella valenciana.

La paella is prepared in a very big pan called la paellera and it is often cooked outside in the open air during picnics and day trips.  It is a mixture of rice (el arroz), meat such as chicken (el pollo) or rabbit (el conejo), seafood (los mariscos) and vegetables (las verduras). 

The rice of la paella is usually yellow because saffron (el azafrán) is added.  El azafrán is a commonly-used spice in Spanish cookery.  It produces a very strong dye.


Rice - el arroz - is cultivated in Spain and is a very important part of the Spanish diet.   The rice that is used for la paella is called el arroz bomba.  It has grains that are quite short and round.

3.  La tortilla española, also called la tortilla de patatas is a potato omelette.  When you are preparing it, you have to toss the omelette so that it can be cooked on the other side.  

The omelette is thick and round.  It is normally served in triangular slices, rather like a cake.  La tortilla is also used in sandwiches.  This sandwich is called el bocadillo de tortilla de patatas.

Tortilla de patata. detail on an spanish

4.  Traditional Spanish desserts are creamy and made with milk such as: el flan - crème caramel, el arroz con leche - rice pudding and las natillas - custard cream.  

Often these creamy desserts are flavoured with canela (cinnamon).

el flan.jpg

5.  El chorizo is a traditional pork sausage.  It contains garlic and the spice el pimentón (paprika).  The paprika gives the sausage an orange/red colour.  

El chorizo can be sliced for sandwiches or used in stews, omelette or served on a small plate as a snack called una tapa.


6.   A world-famous Spanish ham is el jamón serrano.  This actually means 'mountain ham'. 

Another type is called el jamón ibérico.

These hams are produced from pigs' hind legs and can be purchased in ready-sliced portions or as a full leg!  

This type of ham is not cooked.  Instead, it is cured by being hung up and left to dry.

It is sliced very thinly and eaten as an appetiser (una tapa) with bread (el pan).


7.  La morcilla is a sausage made from pigs' blood, pork fat, onion, herbs and spices.  There are many varieties of la morcilla in Spain. 

The version from the area of Burgos contains rice.  There is a traditional saying about this variety.  It is said that la morcilla de Burgos must be 'sosa, grasosa y picosa' -  bland (not salty), greasy and spicy.

La morcilla can be served sliced and fried, in sandwiches or as una tapa.

There is also a sweet version containing sugar and dried fruits.  It is called la morcilla dulce.

8.  El gazpacho is a soup prepared with skinned tomatoes (tomates), olive oil (el aceite de oliva), raw vegetables such as cucumber (el pepino), green pepper (el