Andalucia is a gastronomical landscape of contrasts. Infused by the diversity of historical and cultural influence, the cuisine throbs with Arabian blood, rich Islamic influence and age-old traditions of Spain. Where orange blossoms meet aubergines and coriander, and Spanish stews are laced with honey and heavy with spices and dates, you will find a moreish marriage of flavours to delight in across the cities, towns and coastal regions.
If you want to eat like a local on your next visit – and you definitely should – here are five regional favourites to get your teeth into.
1. Fish tossed in flour: Tortillitas de Camarones and Ortiguillas de Mar
The meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the southern coast of Spain is the port of the region, making dishes like paella and pescaditos fritos a staple of the Spanish diet.
Little-found outside of Andalucia, tortillitas de camarones takes heavy chick pea flour coarsely swept with sea salt, hot paprika and roughly chopped herbs, and coats the camarones (shrimp) in a batter that is then crisped golden brown and served with lemon wedges.
Ortiguillas de mar are an intensely ocean-esque anemone coated in oil and flour and tossed upon the heat. Soft and mellow in texture but with a big sea flavour and crunch.
2. Rabo de Toro
Many countries have their own version of oxtail stew. In the UK it has seen the transformation from ‘cheap cut’ to a highly sought after component of a great meal but in the south of Spain, it had always been highly regarded.
Rabo de toro sees oxtail steeped in sherry, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and celery and left to cook slowly until the meat simply falls from the tail in soft, melted folds.
With beans, potatoes or rice this dish can be served heartily on Sundays or in smaller portions with bread for mopping as an evening tapas.
3. Pinchito Moruno Andaluz
Skewers of meat that have been marinated in spices like cumin, coriander, fennel and saffron are laid flat over coals to charcoal and smoke the flesh, arousing sweet and spicy ribbons of flavour and juice that’ll run down your chin leaving an ashen trail..
From chicken, to beef or pork, pinchitos are a common tapas throughout Spain and can be enjoyed throughout the evening. Often nibbled between glasses of cold beer.
Hailing from Cordoba, Salmorejo is simple soup served cold on hot summer days. Think gazpacho, only thicker and more pink. Combining tomatoes, olive oil, garlic,old bread and vinegar and topped with boiled eggs and crisped serrano ham, you’ll find locals spooning this in the shade to beat the heat of high summer.
Known as the dish of ‘Semana Santa’ (or Holy Week to us Brits), Torrijas takes crusty old bread soaked in cold milk and often spices and honey, dips it in egg and throws it upon a hot pan that seals it in a golden tomb. Sprinkled with a little cinnamon or sugar, a mouthful will guide you through the pleasures of a hard crunch followed by cold, sweet milk. Akin to French toast (but better), the Spanish traditionally enjoy Torrijas during Lent but if you look carefully, you can find it throughout the year.
Words by Sally Gurteen of The Cafe Cat
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