Bunol in the Valencia region of Spain is best known as being the host city for the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina, where thousands of people come together to chuck tomatoes at each other and enjoy the freedom and fun to be had. People from Bunol don’t always throw their food though—most of the time the dishes that come out of this region are perfectly composed and beyond delicious. You can choose from over 8,000 bars and restaurants that offer quality traditional and local cuisine in Valencia. Here are a few of the dishes you should sit down and enjoy if you ever pass through Valencia and are in need of a mouth-watering meal.
In Spain, 30% of the rice produced in the country is produced in the region of Valencia. Perhaps the most famous rice-based, paella was invented in Valencia and the people of the city are incredibly proud of its heritage. Ernest Hemingway, the famous poet, tried his first plate of paella in Valencia and sang its praises forever after. True Hemingway fans can even visit the same restaurant, La Pepica on the promenade of Valencia beach, to try the dish that made Hemingway so happy! It’s interesting to note that the most traditional Valencia paella doesn’t contain seafood, but relies on chicken, rabbit and snails for the meat aspect of the dish.
Horchata is a sweet and milky drink that is made from a special kind of nut that was originally from Egypt and has since been brought to Spain. They are now grown in very few towns in the region of Valencia. The drink is the most classic of breakfast options in Valencia and they are served with fartons which are long and thin iced buns. Traditionally, they are dunked into the horchata before being enjoyed. Head to El Carmen to experience “horchaterias” which are small cafes that specialize in horchata and fartons.
Pan Quemado is a sort of cake that is often baked for celebrations in Valencia. It’s a very simple cake using eggs, flour, sugar, oil and lemon and whenever there are major celebratory times in Valencia, you’ll see these sweet breads piled high in bakery windows!
These fritters are traditionally eaten in Valencia during the Fallas. They are simple fritters made of flour, water and yeast and are sprinkled with sugar after they are fried. Sometimes pumpkin is added to the dough to add a unique twist on a classic snack. Typically eaten with good cup of steaming hot chocolate, many open-air market stalls will prepare them for you while you wait.
Rice-based dishes are commonly found in the northern provinces of Valencia, and Arroz Empredrado is no exception. It’s made with tomatoes and codfish covered with white beans. Variations of this dish can include shrimp, clams, and sometimes they use fresh lamb, goat, and tripe instead of seafood!
Fideua is a noodle dish that is made in a paella pan, using similar ingredients to the seafood paella, but using noodles instead of rice. This dish is especially popular along the coast. Some small towns, like Gandia, even hold competitions to see who can prepare the best fideua. The dish originated as a humble fisherman’s dinner and then gradually expanded to become a popular dish throughout the region as people recognized how easy and delicious the dish was. This dish can be variable depending on preference of noodles, and you can add fish, squid, other seafood, saffron, squid ink and more.
If your mouth is watering and you can’t wait to hit Valencia’s dining scene, start planning your trip today. Once you’ve finalized your travel plans, remember that you aren’t quite done yet. Buy international travel insurance from Cover-More to protect your holiday from any unforeseen mishaps that could occur while you’re away from home.
Of course, whenever you are away from home, know the safety precautions of the country. In Spain, water is something to be wary of. Remember these tips when travelling:
Image courtesy of Flickr user Julie Gibbons.