Spain has a rich food history that incorporates foods and flavors borrowed from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, French, Germanic tribes and Moors. In addition to their historic variations, Spanish food also displays regional flavors.
Typical Spanish meals include almonds, ham and beans. They also use cheese from goats and sheep rather than dairy cows. The Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea provide a selection of seafood and shellfish. From the New World, Spanish cooks added tomatoes, potatoes and chocolate. They also rely heavily on olives.
Olives play a significant role in Spanish meals. The Spanish eat them cured and include olives in their entrees. They cook almost exclusively with olive oil. Olives are included as a tapas selection.
Tapas is the Spanish tradition of small portions of food consumed before a meal to awaken the taste buds. Tapas include plates of Serrano ham and cheese or vegetables and bowls of almonds or olives. Diners order several selections and share among friends.
Paella is a classic Spanish entree from Valencia, made of rice and seafood or meat. This dish is slow cooked. The seasonings and flavors infuse with each other. In a restaurant, be prepared to wait 40 minutes to an hour.