Without a doubt, one of the reasons so many visitors flock to Andalusia is the cuisine, which reflects the many contrasts of the land and its variety of colours and flavours. The influence of Al-Andalus can be seen as much in the cooking here as in the land itself.
Wine: the most traditional is that from Jerez, and the most widely produced the Manzanilla de Sanlúcar. Then there are the Moscatel wines from Malaga and the Condado de Huelva and Montilla-Moriles varieties – so delicious and so varied.
Chacinas, or cured pork meats: the most important are the Jabugo and Trevélez Hams, and this area boasts many traditional pork products: caña de lomo (cured pork loin), salchichón (spicy sausage), chorizo… Chacinas
Cheeses: a wide variety, made from both cow’s and goat’s milk. The most traditional and famous are those from Serranía de Ronda and Villaluenga del Rosario
Desserts: there’s nothing better than a great dessert after a traditional Andalusian meal. The most traditional are those made in the convents, where the nuns still follow the same ancient recipes to this day: suspiros de monja (nuns’ sighs), cabello de ángel, (angel hair) huesos de santo, (saints’ bones) alfajores biscuits…and as well as the typically “religious” desserts are the bizcocho malagueño (Malaga sponge), piñonates in Huelva, Almeria bollos de nata (cream buns)…
Here is a quick run-down of the main dishes and recipes served in the different provinces:
Almería: its extensive coast-line means that fish dishes are very typical here, such as the fish soup and of course the pescaito frito, or fried fish. However, there are other typical “mountain” dishes such as the garlic soup, Moruna (Moorish) soup, black soup, olla de trigo (wheat stew) and the famous gurullos (stews).
Cadiz: this coastal land has many fish and sea food dishes from the Gulf of Cadiz, which of course include the celebrated tortillitas de camarones (shrimp omelettes). Inland dishes include the famous cheeses from Villaluenga del Rosario and of course the dishes using game meat such as the venison or wild boar estofado, or stew.
Cordoba: the cuisine here is based mainly on the country products, and the cereals and legumes from the Guadalquivir Valley. The estofado de rabo de buey (ox-tail stew), the cordero en caldereta (lamb), the hams from the Pedroches Valley and, of course, if one had to choose a particular dish, it would have to be the salmorejo cordobés. In many parts of Andalusia salmorejo is a salad made with potatoes, onion, parsley, etc. but in Cordoba, salmorejo is more like gazpacho.
Granada: as well as the traditional cuisine, which we’ll talk about more a little further on, Granada is the best place to try tapas. There are so many varieties of Tapas here, served in all the bars as a proud display of traditional Granadina cuisine. The food here is heavily spiced – a direct result of its Arabic heritage. The most celebrated dish is the alpujarreño dish, but we couldn’t forget to mention the Trevélez Ham, broad beans with ham or Moruna (Moorish) soup.
Huelva: traditional and seafaring, one of the most famous products from this province is the Jabugo Ham, or the strawberries from Lepe. In Huelva there are many ways to cook choco, or cuttlefish and tuna, whilst other important dishes are the Swordfish in Amarillo sauce, clams with rice, sardines a la pimentilla, cuttlefish stews with broad beans, etc…
Jaén: is one of the main producers of the number one ingredient in Spanish cooking: olive oil, meaning this is a must when preparing dishes as traditional as Jiennense Spinach, ajilimoje, vegetable potajes or stews and Alboronía (aubergine stew).
Málaga: Espeto three main ingredients for this cuisine are the muscatel grape, gazpacho and fish. Don’t leave without trying sardine brochettes in the beach, or for that matter the fried fish, the rice a la marinera, monkfish soup, tuna a la malagueña, broad beans a la rondeña, bull’s tail, menudo de ternera (stewed beef tripe)…
Seville: tapas also figure prominently in this province’s culture, and in this is one place whose inhabitants certainly eat very well. Beef a la sevillana, eggs a la flamenca, soldaditos de pavía (breaded cod), menudo, lomo en manteca (pork in fat), are just a few of Seville’s most famous dishes.