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Spanish Cuisine—A Food Journey Through Eastern Spain

A Food Fun Travel Guest Post

Stretched along the Balearic coastline and spanning some of the most beautiful cities in Europe (including Barcelona and Valencia) the east coast of Spain is a top travel destination for anyone seeking sun, sea, and a taste of Spanish tradition. It also encompasses some of the country’s best cuisine, with dishes that you simply must try if you find yourself exploring this part of the world.

So, prepare for copious amounts of Spanish tapas, seafood, and locally sourced drinks as we go on a food tour of eastern Spain.

Seafood in Barcelona

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city, so you’ll find a glut of international restaurants and can explore the world in a few city blocks. But as we’re here to sample the local cuisine, we have to start by talking about fresh seafood. 

Some of the region’s best dishes include:

  • Fideua: This pasta-based paella doesn’t have a set ingredient list, but it’s often a low-cost, delicious meal and a great way to sample the local fare.
  • Sepia: These grilled cuttlefish are often included on tapas menus.
  • Chipirones: Fried squid prepared in various ways and served with simple sauces and dips.

Sweet Treats in Girona

You can take a high-speed train to Girona from Barcelona in about 40 minutes, bringing you to the next stop on our food adventure.

They love their sweet treats here and it all starts with the xuixo. This cream-filled sweet pastry is influenced by a French dish and can be found in bakeries throughout the city. They are deep-fried and loaded with fat and sugar—far from healthy, but a must-try, nonetheless.

Botifarra sausage is more of an unusual experience. This sausage dish is said to have been created when a maid swapped sugar for salt when cooking a meal for her master. She was seemingly angry at him, and in her anger, she created a dish that is salty, sweet, meaty, and oddly delicious.

Wash it all down with a glass of ratafia, a type of liqueur made from a blend of locally sourced ingredients, including fruits, herbs, and spices.

Paella in Valencia

We’ve already sampled a unique twist on paella in Barcelona, but it’s time to enjoy the OG paella in Valencia. This is where the dish was born, and it remains one of the best places to grab a bowl.

Paella Valenciana isn’t the seafood-laden dish you’ll often see on menus outside of Spain. The name refers to the pan in which the dish is cooked, which was traditionally a huge pan placed over an open fire outdoors. Chefs would throw everything from chicken and game to snails and beans into the pot before adding rice and cooking everything together.

So, keep this in mind and don’t assume you’re getting seafood if you order paella locally.

Fresh and Local Food in Murcia

Located in the southeast of Spain, Murcia has the perfect climate for many fruits and vegetables, earning it the nickname “Europe’s orchard”. So, on the final stop of this food tour, it’s time to load up on as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can!

During the summer, the region produces excellent apricots, peaches, and melons, and you’ll find these in market stalls and local stores throughout the region. The pears are fantastic here and there are some delicious wines as well, including Vino de la Tierra wines produced under protected status in the Campo de Cartagena region.

The region has its own rich culinary history too, producing an array of unique dishes, including:

  • Marinera: A tapas dish that combines a doughy base with a creamy topping and a salty anchovy.
  • Ensalada Murciana: A simple but delicious salad.
  • Pastel de Carne: A meat pie packed with spice and flavour.
  • Zarangolla: A simple scrambled egg dish that uses seasonal produce.
  • Paparajotes: A sweet treat that showcases the region’s Arabic influences. It’s a deep-fried lemon leaf dusted with sugar and cinnamon—it tastes much better than it sounds!

Summary: Food in Eastern Spain

Every part of Spain has something unique to offer in the culinary department. Whether you’re enjoying tapas in Madrid or sampling sherry in its place of origin, it’s a never-ending feast. As we’ve seen, however, the eastern coast of Spain offers some of the country’s best dishes, with fresh seafood often in the spotlight.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re in Spain and prepare to loosen a few notches on your belt!