Over the summer I had the pleasure to travel to Madrid and Barcelona for a study abroad program with LSU. We spent a week in Madrid and a week in Barcelona. Before taking this trip I was unfamiliar with the different types of Spanish delicacies, but this trip opened my eyes to a whole new world of culinary delights: paella, tapas, jamon iberco -- and who could forget the Sangria.
|Trying Fideuà for my first bite in Spain.|
The first dish that I ate in Madrid was called Fideuà. My friend and I stumbled upon this place as we were exploring the streets of Barcelona. We couldn’t speak any Spanish, so we went with the first restaurant that had a picture on the menu.
I can’t speak to how authentic this first dish I enjoyed was, but I can say that it was delicious and a wonderful welcome into the great country of Spain. Fideuà is a type of paella that uses noodles instead of rice as the base ingredient and is served with mussels, fish and prawns. The flavors all blended together to create a beautiful, garlicky pasta that probably has the ability to change lives.
In a country where the wine is cheaper than the water, it’s not hard to find good sangria. The best sangria that I had in Spain was at this little restaurant that my friend and I stumbled upon randomly. They served each pitcher of sangria with some kind of small dish of food called a tapa. This is traditionally done because the idea in Spain is to drink to have a good time – not to get drunk. We had a tapa of olives, but these weren’t just plain old olives. These olives were flavored with smoked paprika and garlic. The salty, savory flavors of the olives combined with the sweet, bubbly burst of sangria is the stuff dreams are made of.
|Sangria and marinated olives.|
Another beautiful, uncommon occurrence is seeing ham legs in the windows of restaurants waiting to be shaved into Spain’s famous jamón ibérico. This delicious ham comes from the black Iberian pig, and up until 2007 it was illegal in the United States.
Leave it to the American to find a delicious burger in Barcelona! Though there were many delicious foods to choose from in Barcelona, sometimes you just have to have a burger...with sangria...on the beach--it’s Spain. This burger was served with thick cut fries and a sauce similar to a patatas bravas sauce (a robust tomato sauce). It was the best of both worlds.
Finally, you can take the girl out of Louisiana, but you can’t take the Louisiana out of the girl. Even in Barcelona I sought out a delicious Strawberry Daiquiri and enjoyed it overlooking the sunset of the beach. It really doesn’t get much better than this.