Spanish cuisine consists of a variety of dishes, which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country's deep maritime roots. It is a Mediterranean diet.
Andalusian "pescaíto" frito.
Cantabrian cocido montañés
- Aragón: Somontano, Borja and other wines. Jamón serrano (cured ham) in Teruel. Migas, very typical in small villages. Nuestra Señora del Pilar sweets in Zaragoza. "Ternasco con patatas a lo pobre", one of the most popular dishes in Aragón. "Borrajas", vegetable typical of this zone. Peaches with red wine (from Calanda, in Teruel). And "chiretas", very popular in "Ribagorza" and "Somontano de Barbastro".
- Asturias: The most famous regional dish is Fabada Asturiana, a rich stew made with large white beans (fabes). Apple groves foster the production of the traditional alcoholic drink, a natural cider (sidra). Sidra is traditionally poured in by an expert server (or escanciador): the bottle is raised high above his or her head to oxygenate the brew as it moves into the glass below. Asturian cheeses, especially Cabrales, are also famous throughout Spain and beyond; Cabrales is known for its pungent odour and strong flavour. Other major dishes include faba beans with clams, Asturian stew, frixuelos, and rice pudding.
- Castilla y León: Morcilla from León, Burgos or Valladolid (black pudding made with blood and different spices), Judión de la Granja, Sopa de Ajo (Garlic soup), Cochinillo asado (little roast pig), Lechazo (Roast Lamb), Botillo del Bierzo, Hornazo from Salamanca, Jamón de Guijuelo (Spanish cured ham from Guijuelo (Salamanca)), a great variety of sausages like Salchichas de Zaratán and cheeses like Cheese of Serrada or Burgos's Fresh Cheese, and various of the best wines in Spain, Ribera del Duero wines.
- Valencia: The Valencian region, specialises amongst others in the famous Paella, and is its birthplace. This dish is very popular, and it's common to cook one each Sunday for family lunch. In fact, in Valencia, during Falles, one of the biggest holidays there, it is quite normal to find big paellas being cooked in the street. The typical Valencian paella contains meat and vegetables, but many other variants of rice-based dishes can be found, with shellfish, meatballs or just covered in egg ("Arròs amb crosta").
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Today, Spanish cooking is "in fashion", thanks in part to Ferran Adrià who, in the summer of 2003, attained international renown thanks to praise in the Sunday supplement of The New York Times. His restaurant El Bulli, now closed, was located in the province of Girona, near Roses. In a long article, the New York Times declared him the best chef in the world, and postulated the supremacy of Spanish cooking over French cuisine. Three of the ten best restaurants in the world, including the best, are in Spain, according to the 2013 renowned list by the magazine Restaurant. No other country has more than one restaurant in the top ten.
Four other Spanish chefs hold three stars in the prestigious Michelin Guide:
- Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak, in San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, since 1989)
- Santi Santamaría (El Raco, in Can Fabes, Barcelona, since 1994)
- Martín Berasategui (Berasategui, in Lasarte, Guipúzcoa since 2001)
- Carme Ruscalleda (Sant Pau, in Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona since 2006)
- Prominent names in the history of Spanish cuisine include
- Karlos Arguiñano, who over the years has presented cooking programmes on various Spanish television channels, in which he shows his communication skills and sense of humour while cooking.
- Simone Ortega, author of the best-selling cookbook in Spain, 1080 recetas.
- Sergi Arola, chef at La Broché and a disciple of Adrià.
- José Andrés, chef/owner of Minibar by José Andrés in Washington D.C., and a disciple of Adrià. Current host of Made in Spain, airing on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Public television
- Ángel Muro: 19th century food expert and author of the book Practicón, which is equivalent to Escoffier's Ma cuisine.
- María Mestayer de Echagüe, "Marquesa de Parabere": author of a two-volume cooking encyclopedia (with the second dedicated to the pantry) that is still in print, and that contains a large number of recipes, as well as chapters dedicated to table manners.
- Other notable chefs specializing in Spanish cuisine
- Ilan Hall, winner of Top Chef Season 2, was known for his Spanish-inspired dishes. He has worked at the acclaimed Casa Mono Spanish restaurant in Manhattan.