Like every region of Spain, Valencia is very proud of its gastronomy- and with a claim to fame as the city of paella, Valencia has every right to brag! Valencian cuisine is known for the unrivalled freshness of the products that go into its simple, scrumptious and- for you nutrition fiends out there- predominantly healthy dishes. Restaurants in Valencia tend to be relatively inexpensive and creative with their dishes- the perfect combination for a Valencian dining experience- so be sure to try as many Valencia food dishes, drinks and tapas as possible!
Surrounding Valencia is a wide, green belt of the most fertile land in Spain, known as "La Huerta." This prime farming zone came to be what it is today during Valencia's epoch under Islamic rule; the Moors are credited with the irrigation system of dams and water ways that brought the water from the Turia River to La Huerta. Cultivating rice, vegetables, citrus fruits, grapes, olives and a wide range of other products, "La Huerta" continues to provide the city of Valencia with all the fresh agricultural products it could possibly ask for. Plus, with up to four major harvests each year, the supply never runs out!
Valencia's second major source of fresh products is the great expanse of the Mediterranean Sea, whose waters lap gently along the edge of the city. Valencia's economy has always relied heavily upon its seaside location, whether through commerce and trade overseas as a major Mediterranean port or through the daily catches of fish and shellfish. Some of the most common seafood that you're likely to come across on any restaurant's menu are sardines, hake, red mullet, anglerfish, octopus, mackerel, cuttlefish, mussles, shrimp and prawns- but trust us, that's an abbreviated list!
Valencia is known for its dishes featuring rice, a product that plays a pretty crucial role upon the stage of Valencian gastronomy. Naturally, the reigning king of rice dishes is the internationally famous paella. A genuine paella is cooked in a large pan, called a paellera, over a wood fire and is a social dish- meaning it's meant to be shared amongst at least two people. There are two so-called "purist" paella dishes: paella valenciana (Valencian paella) and paella marinera (Sailor's paella).
Naturally the Valencian specialty extends much further than two paella dishes. Here are a few more popular rice dishes- be sure to try them!