Thursday, June 09, 2005

Andalucian Cuisine Information

Andalucia Southern Spain has a wide diversity of landscapes from rocky mountains to golden beaches and this landscape has carved a very individual style of Andalucian cuisine. The best introduction to Andalucian cooking is by means of a tapas bar where small tidbits & tasty morsels can be sampled either seated or standing at the bar. These tasty snacks can be hot or cold. Some tapas bars can have as many as 40 different meals on offer. The word "tapa" derives from the Spanish for "cover" as a small piece of bread was used to prevent flies etc getting into workers' drinks...and it has developed from there. If you want a larger portion than the usual tapa which is literally just a nibble, then you should ask for a "racion".
Meal times are late in Costa del Sol / Andalucia, 2-3pm for the comida, or midday meal, which for the Spanish is the main meal of the day, then 9-10pm for the cena, evening meal.
Besides tapas bars, ventas are good places to eat. They are country restaurants, often in the middle of nowhere, serving good quality food at very reasonable prices. These places surprise you by the amount of business they receive in such remote settings but that is always a good sign. Andalucia boasts superb quality fruits, vegetables, hams, oils and wine and much of it's cuisine still bears Moorish influence. One has also to bear in mind that Andalucian people once lived off the land so food was always basic and nourishing. Much of that is still true today.

Costa del Sol is famous for it's fresh fish along the coast and it's "iberico" pork inland and although paella originated in Valencia, Andalucia is also famed for it. Fresh bread, baked daily is also of the highest quality and has been since Roman times. Andalucian hams or Serrano hams are also world famous and rival the Italian Parma Ham in quality.

When it comes to sweets, Andalucian foods are richly flavoured with aniseed, cinnamon, sesame and honey, many with Arab origins. Biscuits and cakes are made fresh all over the region, many of them true works of art.
The region is not without it's own native drinks, not least of all Sherry from Jerez., Malaga Dulce is a sweet apperitif wine, and Ronda is gaining fame producing top quality wines like Bodega F Schatz.
With about 140 kilometres of coastline, encompassing the Costa del Sol which has a true world-wide appeal, it is not surprising that along the coast, any manner of international cuisine can be found. For a selection of the best restaurants in Andalucia, I suggest you visit FCG Dining.


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