Spanish food  - Valencia Food
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Spanish food  -  Valencia Food

Spanish food - Valencia

It is the Moors we can thank for introducing rice to Valencia in the eighth century. In fact the Spanish word for rice 'arroz' derives from the Arabic word ar-ruzz. Today the marshlands bordering the Albufera is one of the principal centres of rice production in Spain. Spanish rice is short grained, absorbing a lot of liquid when cooked, and is the basis for many classic Valencian dishes. The Valencian flair for cooking has created the famous paella dish. This is typically meat based, usually with rabbit or chicken, sometimes snails. In coastal villages it is common to cook a seafood paella, paella marinera. The paella is traditionally cooked over a wood fire using a flat shallow dish, known as a paella pan, from which the classic dish takes its name. Often it is eaten on social occasions as large paella dishes can easily accommodate a crowd.


A delicious variant is the paella negra (black paella), which is squid based. The squid ink gives the dish its characteristic black colour. Other rice based dishes include arroz al horno (oven cooked rice), arroz a banda (made with fish and shellfish) and arroz caldosa (rice stew). The rice dishes are traditionally served with allioli (garlic and oil, beaten to give the consistency of mayonnaise).


Rice is not the only dish cooked in the paella pan. Fideua is a type of paella, originally from Gandia, cooked with noodles and fish stock. A popular regional tapa is stuffed squid, calamares rellenos. The pouch-like squid body is stuffed with tomatoes, onion, ham, and sometimes even apple. Squid can also be eaten by cutting the body into rings, coating in breadcrumbs and deep frying, known as calamares a la romana. Let us not forget that the coastal strip in Valencia is one of the most fertile regions in Spain, producing up to four crops a year. Since the middle ages a water tribunal has met every week at the gates of Valencia cathedral to adjudicate on disputes over water usage. The fresh produce on sale in the markets is superb, tomatoes, artichokes, cherries from the Vall de la Gallinera, and the finest oranges in the world.


In the towns around Valencia it is common to see bars selling a sweet drink made from tiger nut milk called horchata. The drink originates from the town of Alboraya, to the north of Valencia, where the chufa (tiger nut) flourishes in the sandy soil. The tiger nuts are ground down and mixed with lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar to create a refreshing drink. The taste is reminiscent of almonds, and the drink is often accompanied by sweet breadsticks called fartons - please don't giggle its true!


Spain is largest producer of almonds after the United States. In the dry area around Alicante the almonds are harvested in August and September by spreading large cloths underneath the trees and shaking the fruit loose. These almonds are used to create a delicacy called turron, traditionally eaten at Christmas. Thought to have been introduced by the Moors, turron is made by roasting the almonds and slow cooking them with honey and egg white. There are two main varieties, hard Alicante turron and soft Jijona turron, which is produced by grinding the almond and honey mix into a glutinous smooth paste.

Valencia Food
Valencia Food
Valencia Food
Valencia Food