What to eat in Southern Spain that's (moderately) healthy?
- Henrietta Stackpole Mar 12, 2010 10:18 AM
My spouse and I love to eat and have adventurous palettes. We are generally looking for low budget places, street food or markets. On our last visit to Spain, in Madrid, we had many tasty delights, but the tended to be almost exclusively deep fried or pork. Now, mind you, we are not opposed to eating the delicious Jamón or deep fried calamari sandwiches, but eating them continually caused us some health issues (sparing you the details here) by the end of our trip.
We are delighted to be visiting Granada, Cordoba and Seville mid to late April. What should we order that would be seasonal and modestly healthy? I'm afraid we don't speak Spanish, but we are willing to try our best. Are there names of specific dishes or salads we should be asking for? I recall certain lunch spots in Madrid having menu del dia for around 10 euro--any good places in the cities I mention you would advise?
If you found Madrid difficult with fried food, then I'm afraid you are going to have more issues in Andalucia. It is probably *the* region for frying - most notably fish (personally, a plate of freshly fried fish is one of life's joys and I'm happy to eat on several occasions on holidays in the region (my second, or perhaps, third favourite part of the country - although we don't normally stay in the cities).
As you speak no Spanish, I'd suggest finding a handy-to-carry book which will translate food items and, perhaps, cooking terms. You'll usually find salads in the starters section of the menu. You'll continue to find menu del dia lunches for around €10 - 12, particularly if you steer clear of the obvious tourist trap parts of, say , Granada.
You might find this link a useful read. http://www.andalucia.com/taste/home.htm
Though fried food is important in Southern Spain, you will plenty of other things to eat at good tapa places in Andalucia. Search the board as there have been many posts on this area, especially Seville. In Seville, go to Bar Europa, Enrique Beccerra or Bar Las Teresas, there will be cold soups such as ajo blanco, salmorejo, mushrooms with potatoes, salads such as salt cod with oranges, simple asparagus, montadito of all sorts, little skewers seafood cooked a la plancha, shrimp with garlic. As the earlier poster states, get a basic dictionary and learn a few food terms so you are not completely at loss. If you managed the tapas places in Madrid, you will not no problem with Andalucia. Street food, except maybe churros, do not exist in much of Spain as eating on the go is not popular (maybe younger people chewing on sandwiches). As you've already gathered, pork is popular and that is no exception in Andalucia. Nothing wrong with a thin slice or two of jamon mix with something like a cold soup or an Andalucia salad of greens and oranges. I have found having variety of things to eat is never a problem.
I had salpicon de hueva yesterday in my local Andalucian tavern (in Madrid). Diced onion, pepper and tomato and hard roe in vinagrette. Delicious! PBSF makes good suggestions - a good ajo blanco (cold soup based on almonds) will be something you will remember your whole life - it can be exquisite. Salmorejo ( like a very thick gapacho, but without onion, pepper or cucumber) served with little bits of jamon serrano and chopped hard-boiled eggs, is also a treat not to be missed. Bienmesabe is fried pieces of marinated (in vinegar, herbs, saffron, garlic etc.) cazon (shark). Yes it's fried, but Lord it's good.
I love drinking chilled fino or manzanilla in Sevilla, but be careful; it seems light and is easy to knock back, but it can give you an evil headache the next day!
Along the coast of southern Spain are seaffod restaurants offering paellas, whole fish baked in salt (not salty at all as the salt creates like an oven as the fish bakes), grilled sardines and "fried eggplant" drizzled with molasses which I love. Don't worry..most are fried in olive oil which has no cholesterol, unlike most her in the US are fried in animal fat.
We go to Sevilla several times a year and my food of choice is fish.
You can get excellent lenguado, lubina, rodaballo or merluza requested a la plancha. Tho I recommend you cheat once and have tacos the merluza, which is small fried chunks of merluza. Not greasy, lightly crisp and oh! so tender and delicious inside. Sevillanos are quite spectacular the way they cook their fish.