Well, it’s true, isn’t it? One of the top reasons for a Spanish holiday is the great gastronomythat Spain has to offer. Whether you crave calamari or long for longaniza, a week or two in Spain will leave you with a taste for more. Seafood, fresh fruits, simple and fresh salads, Spain on a plate! To wash it all down, you won’t feel let down by the amount of local drinks on offer. There’s no better time than Summer to try a little taste of Spain – let’s see what’s in season, with Summer eating and drinking from sunny Spain.
Spain as a country is like a really full fridge or larder well stocked with good food.
From the sea and the coastline try the freshly caught catch, every fish you can name – and some that you can’t – will be served up somewhere in Spain every day. The rich farmlands of the countryside, the rice fields of Valencia, freshly grown figs and almonds of Andalucía, grown under the Spanish sun. That’s it, really isn’t it? The warm sunshine and mild weather, making everything bigger, juicier and more delicious, especially when eaten outdoors!
Trying something new
It’s June this weekend – although if you live in the UK you probably think it’s still Winter. Leave the roast dinners and warming stews behind and fly to sunny Spain. Book a Spanish holiday and try out some local food and drink, always in season, always delicious.
Leave the wilted buffet and serving of salmonella in the impersonal hotels too.
The best way to try out and taste local gastronomy is, of course, to go self catering in Spain. You’ll more than likely land a nice kitchen, with all the pots and pans you need, so wander down to the local markets and buy fresh. Experiment – see what everyone else is buying, ask what things are – there are some odd looking vegetables and fish out there! Gather up some spices, some virgin olive oil and get cooking…Spanish style.
Buying your Oranges for breakfast
Shop in season
The healthy Mediterranean diet is lauded all over the world, not in small part due to the beneficial properties of Olive oil, garlic – that wonder bulb – and the daily drop of red wine. I think also because, Spanish tend to eat what is in season, and grown locally. So whilst you won’t find Mange Tout in December or Strawberries at Christmastime – you will be able to eat the best of the freshest food – in season. Freshly caught, just picked, foraged or hunted, the golden rule seems to be to just eat what is readily available.
It’s not a bad thing, though with fresh peas in season combined with the generosity of neighbours, I’m beginning to turn a shade of green, we have eaten so many lately. Most don’t make it as far as the pot, just out of the pod and into the mouth!
Market Day in Durcal, Lecrín Valley
For June and early Summer, what should you be looking at, if you go down to the market? Let’s see what’s in season for early Summer…
As I mentioned beforehand, Peas! Freshly picked, the pods are bursting with flavour and available now. I always know what’s in season, not because I look it up, but because it arrives at my door as a gift. Along with those peas, Aubergine and Courgettes were delivered this week, great grilled with a little oil on the BBQ. Broad beans will be hot on the heels of the peas, new season Lettuce, hot radishes, and of course that Mediterranean favourite staple, Peppers, bright red, green and yellow. Tomatoes always amaze in Spain – there are so many varieties, and at the market you’ll see some really ugly enormous and shapeless ones – much nicer and far more real than uniformly packaged – more expensive – supermarket trays.
Salads are easy to assemble in Spain, Cucumbers, Onion, Lettuce and white Asparagus, just add vinegar and oil. There’s no excuse not to have your 5 a day in Spain!
The Local Markets.
Spain cures so much meat, you’ll be spoiled for choice all year. Jamón is probably the most famous, you just have to have it as tapas. As a rule of thumb, it’s Chicken or Pork in the smaller rural villages of the South – but locals tend to kill their own pig and the produce from just one animal is endless. Sausages such as Chorizo, Longaniza, Salchichon, Morcilla, as well as all the chops and fillets and inside-y please-let-me-eat-and-just-don’t-tell-me-bits.
In Autumn, you’ll come across Rabbit and Partridge, wild Boar, Pheasant. In Spring, in the north of Spain, Asturias will always have Lamb on the menu.
Jamón for lunch – or perfect picnic fodder!
Strawberries, in season already here – Spain doesn’t wait for Wimbledon! Punnets large and small are available to buy, you might be surprised at the price difference too.
Melons too, last week I bought no less than 7 Cantaloupe Melons for just €2 – if you’re based in a village listen out for the vans that call to sell everything from Melons to Fish, even sometimes slippers – de riguer fashion for the local shops. A big Watermelon – Sandia – makes a refreshing dessert – and a healthy snack for the kids. Usually sold by the kilo, and not the unit, so check before you buy, some of them are as big as beach balls!
Go Bananas – they’re always available, no long haul required, as they’re grown in the Canary Islands, sweet and lovely.
A Spanish bar, a warm evening, a stroll before dinner, what would you like to drink – Qué quieres para beber? – so consider the Summer drinks on offer, if you’re not sure, or see someone drinking something you think you might like, just point!
Tinto de Verano – A Summer favourite, refreshing, light, not too strong. Red wine, served over ice, topped with lemonade, and a splash of red Vermouth.
Cerveza – Of course, a cold beer, in a Caña, Tubo or Jarra – small medium or large glass.
Sangria – Not just the stuff of holiday sit-coms, but it does go down well with sun and sea! Wine, fruit pieces, here in Murtas it’s always with peaches, topped up with lots of ice, then lemonade or water is added. Everywhere will have their own recipe, with different additions, and theirs will always be the best – but it’s a matter of making your own and developing your own fruit to wine ratio.
Sherry – Not just a drink for old ladies, the recent World Sherry Day proved that. A very cold and dry Fino is just fine as an aperitif, particularly when drunk in Jerez, the home of Sherry.
Mojito – Ah, the cocktail hour. It’s always cocktail hour somewhere in the world! Mojito is refreshing and cooling, and sometimes a lot stronger than it tastes! Our local bar owner makes a magical Mojito, brown sugar, fresh Mint, dark Rum, Lime juice and pulp, and lots of crushed ice.
Mosto – Non alcoholic- and very refreshing, the closest that you can get to wine without the headache. Actually crushed grapes where fermentation is stopped, so naturally sweet and light, best served over lots of ice.
Spanish white wines
A lovely footnote: Don’t forget, if you’re in Granada, the tapas are free too with every drink, you just might not make dinner after all!