One of the best things about Spain is that the country lacks a specific "thing" that defines it as a whole. Its development over the centuries has led to an incredibly diverse wealth of regional traditions, dialects, music... and food!
Ask for Spain's finest dish and the proud Madrileños are sure to boast about their classic cocido. Repeat the question further north, in Asturias, and locals will go on for ages about the region's fabada. Head to the Mediterranean, and the Valencianos cannot say enough about their world-famous paella.
But how does one decide which dish is best? With the help of Paradores' luxury and historic hotels, of course! Thanks to their great locations in every corner of the country, making your holiday in Spain a gastronomic expedition is an easy feat!
Cocido madrileño and fabada asturiana
Madrid's most famous dish is cocido madrileño, a traditional chickpea-based stew prepared with meat and vegetables. Cocido is always served separately, with the meal's three servings dished out from a great pot. The first serving is the soup, with stock as the main element. Later, the chickpeas and vegetables are served. Finally, the tender meat -pork belly, chorizo, black pudding and chicken- is dished out. Despite the hearty content, cocido is a dish enjoyed year round. Head to Parador Alcalá de Henares to sample this delectable classic.
Restaurant Hostería del Estudiante at Parador Alcalá de Henares
Parador Cangas de Onís, meanwhile, is the perfect northern spot from which to enjoy some Asturian fabada. This rich bean stew will keep you warm and in great spirits as you enjoy it with some local cider or red wine. Dried white beans after being soaked overnight, bacon or pork shoulder, black pudding, chorizo and saffron are the basic elements that make up the traditional dish, beloved throughout the country.
Fabada at Parador Cangas de Onís
Paella, that universal favourite
Spain's most famous international dish is undoubtedly paella. While foreigners will refer to it as a "Spanish dish", Valencianos will be quick to point out that it is very much their regional standard. A trip to Parador El Saler will clear any doubt you have about this matter, as it is located in the birthplace of paella: try out some authentic Valencian paella -made with rabbit, chicken, duck and land snails- while you're here.
Paella at Parador El Saler