The Flavors of Valencia

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While Ronda and Vidal enjoyed their time in Valencia, they also dined on amazing traditional Valencian food.

If you’ve always thought of Mediterranean food as its own distinct category of cuisine (along the lines of Mexican, Chinese, or Indian), it’s time to set a few things straight. The Mediterranean region encompasses thousands of square miles and many cultures. Every single one has its own cooking style.

Mediterranean cuisine is loosely characterized by lean meats, lots of seafood, and an abundance of olives (olive oil) and grapes (wine), which are prolific in the area. But Valencian cuisine has a flavor all its own–after all, it’s where paella was born! —and the dishes that Ronda and Vidal enjoy during their stay in Valencia can’t be found anywhere else in the Mediterranean world.

The foods of Valencia range from sweet (almond-honey brittle) to savory (seafood paella) to tangy (salt-preserved cod). These are a few of Valencia’s staples.

Paella

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Valencian Paella. From rorodinoz on Wikimedia.

Paella was first made in Valencia, so it’s not surprising that there are as many different varieties of the dish as there are chefs to prepare it. The most traditional varieties include Paella Valenciana with Rabbit and snails or Paella with Llobaro (a seabass-type fish) and veggies.

If you’re not feeling that adventurous, try this traditional recipe for paella con pollo y mariscos (paella with chicken and seafood).

Horchata

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Traditional Valencian Horchata, served with Fartons.

Traditional Valencian Horchata, served with Fartons. Photo via Nacho Pintos on Flickr.

If you’ve sampled Horchata at a local Mexican restaurant, you’re probably not thinking of quite the same thing as Valencian Horchata. In Mexico and central America, Horchata is most often made from rice, with added sugar and cinnamon to create a sweet, creamy, milky drink.

In Valencia, Horchata is made from chufas—tiger nuts—instead. The resulting drink is like a sweet, thick, creamy version of almond milk. You probably won’t find Valencian Horchata in your town, but you can order chufas online and make your own tiger nut Horchata! The drink is often served with fartons, which are long, slightly sweet pieces of bread perfect for dipping–into Horchata, coffee, or fruity drinks.

Turron

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Turron de Jijona, via Randalfino on Wikimedia.

Turron de Jijona, via Randalfino on Wikimedia.

If you’re in Valencia and you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, Turron is the natural choice. This sweet almond candy has roots that go as far back as the 8th century when the invasion of the Moors brought almonds to the area. Almonds combined with honey form the base for this sweet concoction.

Many different versions of Turron abound, from a brittle candy much like peanut brittle (Turron de Alicante) to the soft, fudgy nougat candy (Turron de Jijona) made from honey, egg whites, and almonds. You can find recipes for both versions here.

Every book is better with a cuppa (whether your preferred drink is Horchata, coffee, or herbal tea) and something to munch on, so whip up something new, then kick back with Two Weeks in Spain!

 

 

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