Andalucian Cuisine - A Guide
Undoubtedly one of Spain's most culinary rich regions, Andalusia is an area famous for its cuisine and its culture of food. Much like the rest of Spain, food is an important part of social life; here the meal is about far more than just eating. Andalusia is also the home of one of Spain's favorite exports; tapas. Restaurants can now be found in most major cities around the world, but to taste the first you should visit Seville. In addition, the area is the world's largest producer of olive oil with some of the greatest in the entire world being produced in Andalusia's olive groves. As you would expect, olive oil is the basis for a lot of the area's cooking and accompanies lots of the dishes.
The diversity across different regions of the region is enormous, a plethora of different influences have shaped the areas gastronomy within the past centuries in addition to its geographical diversity. The Moorish heritage still remains strong and can be observed especially from the desserts and sweets of the area, many of which are flavoured with aniseed, cinnamon, honey and almonds.
Blessed with a superb climate that the area has a year round growing season meaning that vegetables and fruit can be chosen locally, even in winter. Locally grown asparagus and avocados are considered as some of the finest in the world and there is never a lack of fresh produce in order to add weight to regional menus. Possibly the most famous dish in Andalusia is"Gazpacho"; a chilled soup made from tomatoes and other vegetables and one that's been copied all over the world. In the summertime of an summertime,"Gazpacho" is a really refreshing lunch dish or starter and should not be overlooked by those visiting the region.
Coastal regions of Andalusia tend still to be dominated by fish with several possibilities for sampling the bounty of the Mediterranean. "Pesca'ito frito", a regional favorite, is many different fish fried together in olive oil and is ideal to display the extensive assortment of fish available. Beach-side restaurants, locally called"Chiringuitos", are excellent ways to sample local seafood with more emphasis being placed on fresh cooked create than relaxation, pomp and assistance. These casual eateries serve up a gigantic assortment of dishes from baby squid in garlic into new barbequed sardines (usually cooked on a bamboo saliva ) and actually make fantastic value for money. For people looking for finer dining then cities such as Malaga and Seville boast no lack of gourmet restaurants, and several have excellent reputations throughout Spain.
Inland areas tend to lean more towards poultry, game and, the areas favourite meat, pork. Truly the pig is a highly lauded animal in Andalusia whether cooked fresh to create dishes like meat balls in vanilla sauce and pork loins in orange and sherry, or whether treated to produce sausages and"Jamon Serrano". Indeed the area is home to a special breed of pig called the"Iberico" or, more colloquially, the"pata negra" (literally"black foot", denoting the pigs black hooves). This small, brown pig can be used to make some of the best cured hams on earth - the town of Jabugo is reputed to make the very best - the flavour of this ham is down to the strict diet of acorns that's administered into the pig, and this specific part of the Huelva region has the ideal micro-climate for sustaining oak trees. Andalusia, as stated earlier, also utilises the pig for making sausages, a foodstuff intrinsically connected with Spain's cuisine. The"cana de lomo" is a smoked sausage made with tripe and the"morçon" consists of trimmings of pig shin and both serve as excellent examples of the many regional variants that are produced.
However it is not all pork; deer and wild boar are found in Cordoba and the Guadalquivir area around Seville supplies the region with excellent duck, often cooked with Seville onions and eaten throughout town. It's this diversity in one of Spain's biggest provinces which make it such a rich culinary area and a real must for food lovers.