Veggie in Spain - whats a non jamon eater to do??
We will be in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba, and Granada this summer. Friends have told me I will starve except for ice cream and chocolate. Normally I don't eat dairy, but I will for this trip. I also eat fish but not shellfish. Any suggestions are welcome!!!!
There are many Spanish tapas that are vegetarian, using tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. Tortilla Espanola is an excellent dish for a vegetarian. And if you're good with fish, you'll do just fine. (My son just spent some time in Spain; he doesn't eat much meat, so he really enjoyed the fish.) If you've never tried bacalao, this would be a great opportunity -- it's truly delicious.)
'twould be a great shame to go all that way and eat only ice cream and chocolate (for which Spain isn't specially famous) - in fact you'll be spoilt for choice on the veggie front. For this, tapas are the perfect option, as they major on veggies and you can pick and mix. Look out for patatas bravas (crisp-fried wedges of potato with a spicy sauce), anything with champiñones or setas (mushrooms) in the title, ensaladilla rusa (potato, pea, carrot salad with mayonnaise), loads of beany things (habas/fava beans, alubias/white beans, judias verdes/green beans), alcachofas (artichokes) and the ubiquitous tortilla española. In Barcelona escalivada (roasted strips of eggplant, pepper & onion) is nice, and you can hardly miss pa amb tomaquet (baguette rubbed with garlic and fresh tomato + olive oil). Don't come back from Andalusia without tasting salmorejo, an iced soup that really hits the spot on hot days (Sevilla can be up to 45 degrees C in summer), cf gaspacho but without bread, thicker and creamier but no cream, only olive oil. Not sure if you're allergic to shellfish or just not v. interested, but it would be a shame to miss out on Sevilla's tortillitas de camarones, tiny pancakes with shrimp built into the batter. Be aware that bacalao is [heavily] salted cod, not to everyone's taste. Fresh fish is fabulous and varied: the Spaniards eat more fish than any other nation bar, perhaps, the Japanese. Enjoy...
re: Sue Style
You won't starve- Spanish like their veg. The fish dishes and veg tapas others have mentioned are a good call for the most part. I would avoid lentils and beans unless you know for certain they are vegetarian-those dishes are generally seasoned with meat. In Andalucia, while salmorejo is wonderful, it is generally served with a garnish of jamon, so by all means order it, but make sure they leave off the garnish. (My Spanish is terrible, but you could probably say "sin jamon" and people will get the picture.) Also in Cordoba (and maybe other places but that's where I had it), you can order pisto, which is similar to ratatouille- there is a tavern in Cordoba that specializes in it...I think it is helpfully called El Pisto. In Granada, in addition to the other options mentioned there are vegetarian restaurants that cater to the University students there (I don't have names but they should be easy to find with a quick web search). Anyway, you will be fine. Have fun...I am way envious!
If you eat fish and eat diary (along with eggs) than you will have options. Strict vegetarians and vegans are the ones who have a tough time.
Most restaurants will have a grilled fish option. Tortillas (spanish omlettes) which are made with potatoes, zuchini and other vegetables are plentiful. All places will offer some sort of simple salad. So you will have lots of options.
One piece of advice is not to describe yourself as vegetarian because everyone has their own interpretation of what that means in Spain (i.e. vegetarian sandwiches often come with tuna; many vegetable side dishes contain bits of pork). I would be quiet specific about what you eat and what you don't eat.
As others point out, fish options will be plentiful. As will vegetable based tapas (although you may still need to exercise care as, for example, bean based tapas will often come with ham).
What you are not likely to come across in many restaurants are fully vegetarian main courses - to my mind, it is just not a concept in mainstream Spanish society that folk would want to be eating out but not eating meat/fish.
You didn't state that you are a vegetarian. What is a veggie? If you do not eat meat/fowl but eat fish and some dairy, you should not have any problem in just about any place. I would just search this board for the tons of earlier posts on Madrid Barcelona and Andalousia. Just make sure when you are ordering to check if they use any meat/chicken broth in their cooking.
Some Madrid ideas...
Vegetarian (no meat or fish):
Setas a la plancha (wild mushrooms--try El Cisne Azul or El Imperio--two places that specialize in mushrooms)
Most ensaladas/salads, though ask about eggs or ham
patatas al alioli
gazpacho (ask for it without a garnish)
ajoblanco (ask for it without a garnish)
berenjenas fritas (fried eggplants)
salmorejo (ask for it without a garnish)
And the multitude of Spanish cheeses
Dishes that sound vegetarian but almost always have ham or chorizo:
judiones de la granja (white bean stew)
fabada (white bean stew)
cocido (garbanzo stew)
alcachofas a la plancha
champiñones (mushroom caps, almost always filled with ham)
gazpacho manchego (not the same as gazpacho)
besugo (sea bream)
boquerones (white anchovies--typical bar food)
cazón en adobo (school shark)
gallo (sole or John Dory)
atún (bluefin tuna)
bonito (albacore tuna)
dorada (gilt head bream)
mojama (dry cured tuna)
Hey! We have just made a blog about being vegetarian in Madrid - we've reviewed a few restaurants and tapas bars and pointed out some of the excellent vegetarian food that is available here in Madrid (after having been here for almost a whole year now!). Here it is: http://vegetarianvenues.wordpress.com/
Hope you have a great trip!