After our post on Spanish cuisine, we're dreaming of mild white anchovies, serrano ham, and manchego cheese washed down with a glass of wine from La Rioja. So we thought we'd bring together all of our favorite Spanish specialty items that are musts for any Spanish kitchen. With the exception of Padrón peppers, all of of these items can be ordered online, making your Mediterranean fiestas totally attainable.
I constantly crave the flavors of Spain. Though Spanish cuisine varies tremendously across the different regions, they all have one thing in common: the use of fresh, local flavors. Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by its climate and geography.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the best way to describe Spanish food is the generous use of olive oil and garlic in dishes. Spain is the number one producer of olive oil, so it seems fitting that this ingredient brings together so many delicious elements. Spain has direct and abundant access to some of the best seafood in the world, and the cuisine offers everything from octopus to razor clams. Meat is also an important part of the Spanish diet and culture, specifically cured pork like jamón serrano and beef (eaten more rarely). Wine is a regular part of mealtime, similar to other Mediterranean countries. Fresh ingredients are of the utmost importance in Spanish cuisine, and because of this, dishes tend to be on the healthier side.
In Spain, dinner is typically eaten late at night (beginning around 10 p.m., but some even sit down to eat as late as midnight), which explains why tapas are a very significant part of Spanish culture. Tapas are small little meals, usually packed full of flavor, meant to be enjoyed while slowly sipping wine and conversing with friends. The cultural phenomenon of tapas is an important reminder to slow down and savor all of the flavors of life.
As I mentioned before, regionality is hugely important when it comes to Spanish cuisine. Typical meals in Galicia are vastly different from those in the Basque region or Andalusia. Still, there are a few common dishes and terms you should know about. Keep reading to learn more!
A young woman takes a bath in tomato pulp today during the annual Tomatina festival in Bunol, Spain. More than 35,000 people threw 120 tons of tomatoes in one of the world's biggest food fights, held each year in the Spanish Mediterranean town. Check out the fun, without getting dirty, now!
Here's the catch. You have to get to Madrid by the end of the week. The pope will arrive in Madrid tomorrow for World Youth Day, and as part of his visit, any woman who confesses her abortion during the event will be forgiven and welcomed back to the Church.
"Special powers" have been given to all priests in Madrid, which they can use to absolve women who confess abortions. A Vatican spokesman explains, "Normally, only certain priests have the power to lift such an excommunication, but the local diocese has decided to give all the priests taking confession at the event this power." To accommodate all sinners, portable confession booths, pictured above, have been set up in the city's Buen Retiro Park.
The Church denies that it's trying attract new members with its more lenient approach to abortion, but the plan does seem a little bit like a gimmicky and arbitrary "get-out-of-hell-free" card. And any Catholic woman who can't make it to Madrid to confess an abortion won't receive the benefit. Even so, do you think it's a sign the Catholic Church is more welcoming of its female members? Or is it just another example of a male-dominated institution trying to control a woman's body and choices?
When it comes to European wine regions, France and Italy hog all of the spotlight. However, Spain has been producing quality wine for the past 700 years, too. The Iberian peninsula's most popular wine making appellation is the Rioja. Situated just below the Pais Vasco in the central Northeast of Spain, Rioja is known for one grape in particular, Tempranillo. Over 90 percent of the wine produced in Rioja is red and 85 percent of this is Tempranillo. Don't be intimidated if you're not a huge red wine drinker, Rioja also produces plenty of rose and white Tempranillo. To find out why you should be asking for Rioja at your local wine shop, read on.
Located in Catalonia’s bucolic Empordá region, the Hotel La Malcontenta was once a private country home, famous throughout the Empordá for the meticulousness of its owner (to be malcontenta means to be unsatisfied). Taking this attention to detail as a jumping-off point and classical Mediterranean villa architecture as inspiration, the building was transformed by Spanish designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán into an upscale, rural hotel with a balance of graceful, historical character and modern design. Throughout the interiors and stunning outdoor grounds, you'll see period-inspired furniture, simple textures, a palette of warm, neutral colors, and an abundance of feminine touches. In honor of the original owner's legendary spirit, it seems Rosa-Violán has made it the place she always dreamed of — a perfect one.
Click through for the full tour!
As a signal of their status, they've already held court for royalty! Queen Sofia of Spain stopped by to snuggle the little ones — while it's still safe to do so! — and it looks like this one is already telling her secrets . . . probably something bad about the other one hiding his face.
See more of the royal meet and greet when you read more
Survey says: Spanish women are the most flirtatious women in the world. The study put on by Badoo.com, an online dating site with millions of users over 240 countries, looked at 90 million contacts over one month and found that Spanish women are likely to initiate contact with a man 1.33 times a month, a rate double that of female Brits.
Polish women came in second out of the 20-country list, and Latin countries (those speaking Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese) took up all but two of the top 10 spots. The US placed second to last, right above Ecuador. Still, men everywhere initiate way more contacts than women.
While I was ready to dismiss this as an interesting yet probably inconsequential analysis of online dating data, at least one author on modern-day Spain thinks the results demonstrate a change in Spanish society. He told Reuters: "Until the mid-'70s, the status of women in Spain was lower than in any other European country, except Turkey. Now, you have a country where the proportion of women directors on the boards of big companies is greater than in, for example, a northern European country like Belgium."
Yesterday, the world was introduced to the two panda twins in Madrid, and the sensation shows no sign of ceasing! I can't get enough of their expressiveness — it's like this cub is making funny faces just for laughs! The twosome had a visit from a doc and enjoyed more feeding time. Mmm, I'm full of cute.
See more of the healthy, hungry babes and read more
Look how tiny . . . but not too tiny to pose! It's like he (or she) is saying, "Aww, geez, another photo?!" This cub was one of two born at the Madrid Zoo on Sept. 7, the first artificial insemination panda twins outside of China!
While the babes are still catching shut-eye these days, they'll soon grow too big for the incubator with all that milk they sip and will one day eat like 30 pounds of bamboo a day!