The Mediterranean diet
The current and old cuisine of Spain incorporates old and new traditions.
For the dought
Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by historical processes that shaped local culture and society in some of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula territories. Geography and climate had great influence on cooking methods and available ingredients. These cooking methods and ingredients are still present in the gastronomy of the various regions that make up Spain. Spanish cuisine derives from a complex history where invasions and conquests of Spain have modified traditions which made new ingredients available. Thus, the current and old cuisine of Spain incorporates old and new traditions.
Before the Roman Empire, Spain used to be divided in three territories. The three different territories: the Celts (north of Spain), the Iberians (center east), and the Tartessos (South) were referred to as “clans”. The Celts were a warrior based community, and lived in small fortified round houses. The Celts were known for fishing and farming as a means for living. Even today we can see their influence as the north of Spain is renowned for their “mariscos” (sea food). The Iberians were mainly hunters and cattle keepers. The center of Spain is still considered to have great quality of meat. e.g. Cochinillo in Segovia (piglet) The Tartessos were goldsmiths, and did a lot of trading with Africa and Greece.
The Visigoths introduced brewing to the Spanish regions. The change came in 711 AD, when Muslim troops composed of Arabs and Berbers crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, invading the Iberian Peninsula. The Muslim conquest brought new ingredients to Spanish cuisine from different parts of the world, such as Persia and India.The cuisine of Al-Andalus included such ingredients as: rice, sorghum, sugar cane, spinach, eggplant, watermelon, lemon, peach, orange and almonds. However the Muslim religion does not allow alcoholic drinks such as wine, therefore many rulers of Al Ándalus used to uproot vineyards as a signal of piety.
The arrival of Europeans in America, in 1492, initiated the advent of new culinary elements, such as tomatoes, potatoes, corn, bell peppers, spicy peppers, paprika, vanilla and cocoa or chocolate. Spain is where chocolate was first mixed with sugar to remove its natural bitterness. Other ingredients traveled to the Americas, such as rice, grapes, olives and many types of cereals.Many traditional Spanish dishes such as tortilla de patata (an omelette made with potatoes), would not be possible without the discovery of America. Gazpacho, salmorejo, and pan tumaca are made with tomatoes, which traveled from America to Spain during the discovery of America.
Spanish regional variation
- Balearic Islands
- Basque Country
- Canary Islands
- Castile-La Mancha
- Castile and León