Food in Valencia, Spain
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).
- Paella valenciana
Spanish rice cooked with chicken (and / or rabbit), sweet pepper, tomatoes, green beans, olive oil, saffron, and sometimes artichokes and peas.
- Paella marinera
Spanish rice cooked with mussels, calamares, shrimp, lobster, clams, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, saffron- plus any other shellfish that the cook feels like throwing in.
Naturally the Valencian specialty extends much further than two paella dishes. Here are a few more popular rice dishes- be sure to try them!
- Arroz a banda
Rice dish stewed in fish stock, then served separately from the seafood used to give it its distinctive taste.
- Arroz negra
Rice dish featuring seasoned squid cooked in its own ink.
- Arroz al horno
Baked rice dish with beans, sausage, vegetables and potatoes.
- Arroz con costra
Rice dish covered with a baked egg crust
A sauce made essentially of garlic and oil and served along with anything: meat, potatoes, fish, rise dishes, etc.
Fideau is essentially the same as paella, the difference being that this dish is made with noodles instead of rice.
- All i pebre
Eels fried in oil, paprika, and garlic.
- Suquet de peix
stew of eels, potatoes, garlic, and fish
- Grilled vegetables
Grilled fresh vegetables simply brushed with oil and garlic.
- Salmueros and salazones
Dried and salted fish and roe.