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What are the top five Spanish foods?

When I think of Spanish foods, I think of jamon, olives, paella, churros and chocolate. Would that be considered accurate or what are your thoughts as to the most iconic of Spanish foods that it would be a shame if you missed them while visiting?

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  1. Manchego Cheese!!! and the jamon has to be iberico. wash down with with sangria.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tostito

      IMHO Manchego cheese and Jamon (preferably bellota) goes better with Manzanilla or Fino than with Sangria...

      1. Oh if you're visiting, then you have to order the whole roasted baby piglet.

        1. Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Queso Manchego, Ventresca de Bontio del Norte, Pimientos del Piquillo and Morcilla de Burgos. I would add to that an arroz dish of your choice. My choice would be an arroz caldoso more than a paella. Paella's great and all that, but there's a lot more to Spanish arroces than paella.

          Then it all depends on the region you're in. You couldn't go to Catalunya without having some Pa amb Tomaquet or Galicia without having some pulpo.

          3 Replies
          1. re: SnackHappy

            Oh and I forgot about Sobrassada. You have to have Sobrassada.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              I'm not sure I'd think of sobrassada as an iconic Spanish food - iconic Mallorcan, for sure.

              (The brother in law, who comes from Soller and is there now, says it was funny to see all the Spanish flags out yesterday in preparation for the match - as he said "We usually hate Spain")

              1. re: Harters

                Funny, I have family from Catalonia and while the older generation are more into autonomy, the younger ones don't seem to care and feel that Catalonia is still Spain. As for the typical foods: Jamon (any form), queso manchego, paella always comes to mind. Runners-up are: olives, chorizos, seafood (cooked plain..without fancy sauces), callos, fabada, fideua. Drinks: Rioja, fino, sangria, cava...

          2. SnackHappy's spot on! Depending on the regions and season! galicia:seafood-pulpo a feira (galician octopus). Madrid, Callos, Cocido Madrileño. la Mancha-, Manchego cheese, olive oil. Andalucia, jamon, salmorejo, pescaito frtio. Cataluña calchots, anchovies, Pais Vasco-seafood. fish, tolosa beans, pinchos..... My advice is check out the regional food. It's difficult to name just 4!

            1. Pork (in all forms)
              Olives (and olive oil)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                Personally I think Spain's greatest cheese is Cabrales.

              2. Huevos estrallados.


                Croquetas de bacalao a close second.

                And tocino del cielo hitting the perfect trifecta.

                1. I am not sure one can name 5 iconic dishes of Spain, as though then one could go to any restaurant in Spain and get the best of that genre. Spain does not work that way. I don't think any country's cuisine works that way.
                  For example, tourists in Barcelona look for paella. There are some restos in Barcelona that make it ok, but in general it is just the wrong city for the dish.
                  Ditto all the dishes named by the poster: jamon, olives, paella, churros and chocolate. You can't just go to any restaurant or market in any Spanish city and expect to find the best.
                  One example: Pa amb tomàquet, the Catalan specialty. For a long time, Pa amb tomàquet was like bullfight for me: Until I have experienced the best, I had wondered what all the fuss was about. I enjoyed the mystique but not really the real thAng until I had it at Cerveceria Catalana in Barcelona.
                  The best is to research where you can find the best, as you would do with any food genre for any city/country. Check this board for the various recs for various cities.
                  Lastly, Spain rocks ! Campeones del mundo !

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Parigi

                    Parigi makes a very good point. Food is Spain is very regional, you need to understand he strengths of each region then search out the great examples of them. I am afraid the OP's list is a bit predictable and these so called "best" foods are often served up in tourist traps as travesties of what they really should be. I never saw what was special about Sangria until I had a very well mixed version made from scratch (no Sangria mix) with plenty of brandy....!

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Maybe the question should be: What are the top five "stereotype foods" of Spain. Agreed that every region has it's specialties, and that's what makes Spain so facinating foodwise and tour-wise. We love it! Viva Espana!

                      1. re: trvlcrzy

                        "Stereotype" food:
                        * Pulses (lentil, chickpea, beans): lentejas con chorizo, cocido, fabada…
                        * Vegetables: judías verdes, espárragos, pimientos fritos o asados, alcachofas, pisto, escalivada…
                        * Rice dishes: paella, arroz a banda, arroz caldoso …
                        * Pork meat: jamón, chorizo, sobrasada, lomo, morcilla…
                        * Fish: Atlantic coast (bacalao, merluza, atún, sardinas, pulpo). Shellfish (gambas, langostinos, centollo, bogavante). Mediterranean coast (boquerones, chopitos, sepia, coquinas)

                        1. re: JuanDoe

                          JuanDoe: can you recommend your favorite places for 'arroz caldoso' in Madrid?
                          Same question for 'arroz a banda'. Thanks much!

                          1. re: Julia Chang

                            They do both in Mano a Mano on Calle Lavapies...don´t know if it´s the best, but it´s pretty good!

                    2. Thanks for all the great suggestions and insight everyone! I appreciate it!