The International Kitchen Blog: 5 Reasons to Visit Spain for a Cooking Vacation
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5 Reasons to Visit Spain for a Cooking Vacation

Next October 01, 2013 Previous

Italy and France may be our top two destinations when it comes to cooking vacations, but Spain comes in a close third — and it's been gaining popularity. From Costa del Sol up to San Sebastian, the land of the setting sun offers so many gastronomy traditions. Here's just five food-related reasons to consider Spain for your next overseas trip.

Andalusian Olive country5. Olives, either stuffed or with pits. Southern Spain is essentially a sea of stunning olive groves, thanks, in part, to the Moorish influence beginning in 8th century AD. The region of Andalusia in particular is known for its groves and artisanal olive oils, which you can discover during "Cooking in Andalusian Olive Country."

4. Gambas Pil Pil. With its miles of coastline, it's not surprising that you'll find seafood aplenty in Spain. But this tapas dish is one of the most popular. Along the Costa del Sol, enjoy a sizzling dish of gambas pil pil (shrimp) that is served in an earthenware ramekin.

3. Tapas. In general, Spain is the land of tapas, or small plates traditionally served atop your wine glass. While the origins of this tradition vary, many think it originated partially due to farm workers who were trying to stop flies from flying into their drinks. Today you can order tapas in tapas bars around Spain. They range from the simply prepared — such as cheeses, olives, and nuts — to a gastronomical delight, such as patatas brava (potatoes smothered in tomato sauce) or pimientos rellenos (stuffed peppers).

Paella2. Jamón. Ham in Spain is considered a delicacy that is cured using traditions that date back to Roman times. The curing process may be simple — typically only salt is used — but depending on the environment, the results and tastes vary. Jamón Serrano hails from the mountains, while Jamón Iberico is made from Iberian pigs, mostly in the southwestern part of the country.

1. Paella. Every region of Spain, from Catalonia to Andalusia and beyond, have their own take on this national dish. Even so, the basics typically involve a dull yellow rice paired with fish, shellfish, meats, or vegetables, all depending on where in Spain you're eating! Tasting the different paellas of Spain is simply an amazing way to see what foods are the most important in a given region.

Discover these culinary traditions, and so many more, through our Spain cooking vacations, including our one in Andalusia, "Taste of Seville," and "Catalonian Tastes and Treasures," among other cooking classes.

What is your favorite Spanish food?

By Liz Hall

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