There are so many star products that form part of Spanish gastronomy that it is hard to know where to start. When we talk about typical Spanish products we are talking about those products whose raw materials are grown, farmed and manufactured in the country. With such a rich farming heritage, it is therefore unsurprising that Spain has so much to offer in terms of raw ingredients in cooking, as well as great dishes too.
Many of the typical Spanish products have designation of origin, which means they are protected products and can only be produced in a specific area under very strict conditions that assure authenticity and quality. Among these we find cheese, ham, oil, wine and many more.
So what makes these products so good? There are many factors, one of them is a privileged and varied climate, the warmth of the South and rains of the North mean that there are excellent conditions for different products and crops.
This varied climate and terrain of Spain means that there a number of great agricultural products from Spain. Without doubt, you will have heard of Seville Oranges, well these are just some of the great fruits to be grown in Spain. Furthermore, Spanish farmers grow a huge range of vegetables which has given rise to a wide selection of Spanish vegetable dishes. However some of the vegetables that we may believe to be typical Spanish such as the potato or the tomato are actually not Spanish at all. These vegetables were actually brought to Spain from the Americas and were only cultivated at first for decorative properties. It was only centuries later that they began to be used in cooking.
Thanks to its ample coast, Spain also has an excellent range of seafood and fish on offer which you will see if you visit any of the coastal towns and cities in Spain. Some of the typical examples of seafood you will find in Spain include cod, octopus, squid and prawns. However the Spanish always manage to create tasty dishes out of all of the ingredients the sea has to offer.
Meat is extremely important in Spain and the Spanish are not wasteful. Of course the best meats are the Spanish hams, which are always of extremely high quality. However, Spain also produces a large range of sausages that are used within cooking as well as being enjoyed on your own. If you ever go to a Spanish tapas bar in Spain, make sure that you try some of the ham and different types of sausages on offer. many establishments offer a selection of cooked meats on a platter as one of their dishes.
And how could we talk about typical Spanish products and not talk about olive oil? Olive oil may be just an ingredient, but it commands a great deal of respect in the country, and a lot of the olive oil produced in Spain is protected by designation of origin. Olive oil forms part of the healthy Mediterranean diet, and it is is used for all manner of things, from cooking, to salad dressings, and even making sauces like alioli.
Finally we mustn't forget to talk about Spanish cheese. Cheese is also a great ingredient but it too is appreciated on its own. You can find platters of cheese and Spanish ham in many restaurants and bars across Spain. You can't visit Spain and not try some of the famous Manchego Cheese, which is rich and tangy thanks to it being made with sheep's milk.
On the other hand centuries old traditions (in some cases millenia) mean that the production processes have been perfected with time, generation after generation. So that is why Spanish olive oil is recognized as top quality, Iberian ham is perhaps the best ham in the world, the Spanish sausages are unique and so on.
Below are some of the most representative products of Spanish food. Why not click on the links to find out more about them and their history.
If you ever visit Spain, be sure to try the many products Spain has to offer. We promise that you won't be disappointed!