La Gastronomie Madrilène
The Madrid region (one of Spain's smallest), as you would expect, is mostly dominated by the capital city . It's been said, by gourmands and food critics alike, that Madrid doesn't actually have a single cuisine all its own, instead it draws on influence from all of Spain, absorbing a rich tapestry of tastes and ingredients and turning them into it's own gastronomic melting pot. This is certainly true to some extent; in no other city in Spain are people likely to be presented with such a broad cross section of those countries flavours. Regardless of this reality Madrid does still boast a couple dishes which are synonymous with the capital and by consuming so many influences; Madrid has become one of Spain's richest gastronomic regions.
Famed for its stews and hotpots, Madrid's most famous dish is likely"Cocido Madrileño". Made with chick peas and vegetables it's a staunch favorite of locals and tourists. "Callos" (tripe) is also typical of the area and may be served in a variety of ways and visitors shouldn't leave without having sampled the easy, yet tasty,"Sopa de Ajo" (garlic soup). The area is also heavily affected by nearby Castile a region famous for its roasted meats and these customs have been easily absorbed by Madrilenos. Meats are often slow cooked in a wood oven, providing exquisite flavour and tenderness. Veal, suckling pig and even goat, are usually prepared this way. Food in the area is often more warm and hearty than in the South and is significantly better suited to the warmer winters of the northern and central areas of Spain.
Desserts and sweets are also a big thing in Madrid and are often seasonally produced. The superb"torrijas" is quite much like bread and butter pudding and a favorite in spring time and particularly around the time of Holy Week.
Rather surprisingly for a place that's 250 miles from the nearest ocean, Mardileños are fantastic fans of fish and the town boasts the second largest fish market in the world, just the one in Tokyo is bigger. Each morning fresh fish stems by the truck-load from Spain's coastal areas filling the towns restaurants and pubs with a gigantic assortment of fish, so much so that Madrid has obtained the paradoxical nickname of"the best port in Spain".
As you'd expect, Madrid is home to some excellent restaurants with no shortage of fine dining choices in addition to a enormous assortment of tapas bars. Some criticism has been levelled at Madrid lately about the shortage of high quality global cuisine available and vegetarians (not just two-a-penny in Spain) may also find it difficult to discover a decent meal. Spaniards are very much a meat eating race so vegetarian dishes in restaurants might not be of the maximum grade (although standards have improved within recent years). The growing city break market means that city's such as Madrid need to provide decent quality food for all their tourist visitors whether it needs to keep them returning. This can only be a fantastic thing for the town that has ability to adapt and adopt food from around Spain has given Madrid its own distinct cuisine.