Spanish Foods

Sunday, 09 March 2008 22:42

The A-Z of Spanish food and drinks in true Sentinella style.

Atun (Tuna) – Highly healthy and really succulent when served in olive oil, together with a green salad. 


Ali Oli (Garlic Sauce) – If you’ve ever bought a jacket potato from one of the kiosks in Torre del Mar, then no doubt you’ve eaten ali oli. Just remember your mints after!

Arroz (Rice) – The Spanish are crazy on their arroz, especially on Sundays when they cook giant paellas for the whole family, and some…

Albondigas (Meatballs) – A tasty tapas, served in either tomato, or almond sauce. Eat them with breadsticks and a glass of vino tinto.

Almendras (Almonds) – These grow on trees in the mountains and are sometimes dished up as a dessert, saturated in sticky honey.

Anchovies (Anchovies) – These little fishes aren’t my fave foodstuff in Spain. I’m one of those who often asks the Camerero ‘sin anchovies por favor’.

Agua (Water) – Lately I just can’t stop guzzling it, which is ok seeing as health experts recommend downing at least 1.5 litres a day.

Aceitunas (Olives) – Find them in the supermarket stuffed with my enemy anchovies, red peppers, jamon serrano, or if you prefer them hot, jalapeno peppers

Aceite (Olive Oil) – Spain is famous for its aceite, and it’s a staple part of the Mediterranean diet. Better to eat it cold, drizzled over salads, than to heat it for frying.

Bacalao (cod) – This nifty little fish adds a salty hint to soup, or full-blown taste explosion to a plate of veg and spuds. Just leave catching them to the fishermen!

Buñuelos – These naughty lumps of sweetness smell divine and wake up even the laziest of taste-buds. They taste a bit like doughnuts and come complete with a range of fillings including cream, chocolate sauce, and well, you can imagine…

Bizcocho (sponge cake) – I’ve found that the sponge cakes here don’t seem quite so spongy than their counterparts in the UK, and if you’re a sworn cake-lover then you’ll probably know what I mean.

Bocadillos – A common merienda / snack for the Spanish, and/or elevenses depending on belly size. The fillings are often fairly unoriginal with mixto (cheese and ham) tending to be the most popular, either that or atun (tuna). Something tells me a Pret Manger would go down well here! 

Berenjenas (aubergines) – One of my faves, especially those that come fried with honey drizzled all over, served in any tapas bar worth its weight in salt. I’m actually dribbling as I type here!!

Churros – These long doughnut-like sweet treats aren’t the healthiest way to start the day, but nevertheless they’re one of the most popular Spanish breakfasts. They’re eaten dipped in sugar, or a cup of gloopy chocolate. If you haven’t yet tried them then you simply must, but try not to become addicted!

Cerveza – This is one of those words which most British people know, simply because it is means ‘beer’. I often cringe as I hear the dreadful attempts at pronunciation. A ‘tubo’ is a tall thin glass of beer.

Cerezas – Cherries can usually be found on supermarket shelves in the middle of summer. They’re always so juicy here!

Cola Cao – This is the Spanish brand of hot chocolate and what people ask for in cafeterias. It is made with milk and is great for a pre-bedtime drink, or is you are a Spanish child you are generally made to drink a glass of this before school.

Café con Leche – This is coffee with milk and is the most common way of drinking it. If you like your coffee a little less potent ask for ‘nube’ (cloudy) or even weaker ‘sombra’ (shadey).

Calamares – Squids to you! These are a typical dish of chiringuitos. They come fried.

Chanquetes – These little fishes are similar to white bait and again (not surprisingly) they are served fried and more often than not covered in batter. If you look closely you can see their little black eyes. I remember the first plate I ate had me feeling ill for days after. The thought of hundreds of eyes peering around my stomach didn’t agree!

Chorizo – Spicy sausage is a real hit here in Spain. It tastes real good and is a likely component of dishes such as migas. Those obvious fatty parts put me off indulging too often though…

Conejo – Better known as bunny rabbit. I was alarmed the first time I realised that my paella contained chunks of it. I had believed I was eating chicken. If only they knew that we keep them as pets in the UK!

Caramelos – Every kids favourite – sweeties! On Three King’s Day tonnes of them get thrown from carriages during a special procession. If you can be bothered it’s not difficult to collect bags of them! If it happens to be raining you can catch them in your umbrella!

Dorada - This is one of the many types of fish sold in supermarkets and restaurants. I never know which is which as they all taste similar to me. No, I’m in no way a fish connoseiur.

Datiles - Better known by as guiris as ‘dates’. Not the kind where you meet a member of the opposite sex for fun and frolics, but the dried fruit kind which you put in your mouth and chew. I find they go especially well with a pot of mint tea.

Donut - These yummy cakes are now popular throughout the world. Many donut shops have started to crop up all over Spain, the most recent in the El Ingenio shopping centre, Velez Malaga. You’ll find it downstairs. My eyes are automatically drawn in its direction every time I pass.

Dulce - Because of the lack of foods, I’ve had to resort to words associated with food, so dulce, or ‘sweet’ fits the bill.

Desayuno - The most important meal of the day – breakfast! Have you had yours?!

Destornillador - A blend of vodka and orange juice, perfect for those evenings when you fancy moving off this planet and on to a different one!

Empanadas – I spy with my little eye, something beginning with PIE! They come filled with all sorts of delicious concoctions. My favourite are the tuna and tomato. Yum!

Ensaladilla Rusa – This can be found on most run-of-the-mill tapas menus throughout Spain. I find it a little tedious after a while, but basically it’s served as a ‘slodge’ of mayonnaise, carrots, tuna and if your luck’s in, you might discover some olives too.

Ensalada – Nothing more and nothing less than salad. That dish we could all do with eating more of – which is much easier to do in the sun! Unless you order a tropical salad, or you find yourself in a five star, luxurious restaurant, the salads in Spain aren’t anything to write home about. They mainly consist of lettuce, tomato, lettuce, tinned carrot / beetroot, lettuce, cucumber…and did I mention lettuce?

Embutidos – This is a selection of cold sausages, which usually make last night’s dinner rise to my throat at first sight. A well disguised form of animal guts, intestines, organs, and Lord knows what else. I’ll pass, thanks!

Espinicas – Spinach and Popeye’s fave! I practically lived on this throughout the summer – each day I devoured a whole plate of it, also adorned with a selection of other salad veg – a much more adventurous selection than the typical ‘ensalada’ type and this time NO LETTUCE!

Escalope a la Plancha – To be honest I never really know the difference between all the different kind of escalopes available in Spanish restaurants. They really don’t appeal and when I have been adventurous and ordered them, they all taste the same anyway… dry, chewy, bland and in need of a good dip with a particularly tasty sauce (the kind which masks all other flavours).

Entremeses de la Casa – Homemade starters. You know what I mean… the kind of mini dishes that posh sorts serve on daintily held plates to a houseful of guests, who they try to impress with the show.

Esparragos – As it sounds! Those green stick shaped vegetables, which make your wee smell weird if you eat too much (well mine anyway!)

Espaguetis – Spaghetti bolognaise – not always prepared in the way one would hope. Imagine taking some spaghetti and simply adding tomato sauce… nothing more, nothing less… Well that’s what you get served in most Spanish restaurants. No carrots, no onions, no meat, no peppers, no dash of red wine for taste. Nada.

Estofado – Good old stew! The kind grandmother might have made. And if she didn’t then the kind your grandmother’s grandmother might have made. Absolutely delicious and slips down well with a side serving of rice.

Fabada – This is a typical dish of Asturiana (the northern region of Spain), but it can often be found in other parts of Spain too. It is a rich bean stew made with large white beans, pork, bacon, black pudding and often saffron. It is a heavy dish and because of that it’s usually eaten for lunch, the main meal of the day.

Fajitas de Pollo – These are a Mexican speciality, consisting of grilled meat, onions and bell peppers served on a flour or corn tortilla. They are delicious served with spicy tomato sauce and guacamole.

Fondue - This is a Swiss communal dish shared at the table in a large pot over a small burner. The term is derived from the French verb fondre (to melt). Diners use forks to dip bits of food (most often bread) into the warm semi-liquid sauce (commonly a cheese mix). While cheese fondue is the most widely known, there are other pot and dipping ingredients, such as chocolate and strawberries (my fave!)

Filetes – Boneless portions of meat.

Fresa – Better known by us Brits as the strawberry and thankfully in season right now! I juice them by the punnet to create a dead healthy morning drink to set me up for the day.

Frambuesa – Smaller than the strawberry, yet just as tasty, the raspberry can be hard to come by here in Spain and when you do they are usually pretty expensive. I found a tub in Eroski recently for 2.50€

Fruta – Not surprisingly this translates as ‘fruit’.

Flan – Crème caramel, flan, or caramel custard is a rich custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top. The dish has spread across Europe and the world. Both 'crème caramel' and 'flan' are French names, but have come to have different meanings in different regions. In Europe and many Commonwealth countries, the dish is generally known as cream caramel.

Fideos – These are mini noodles, commonly found in soup.

Gazpacho – A cold tomato and cucumber soup from Andalucía, delicious as a summer starter on a hot day…

Granada – This isn’t referring to the City of… It’s in actual fact a pomegranate! A friend of mines father grows them in his countryside house in Cartama and they’re always incredibly yummy, bursting with seeds and flavour.

Guisantes – If you’re fond of them these are peas. Personally peas are my least favourite vegetable in the world. Totally vile!

Galleta – We all love dipping a biscuit or two into a mug of hot tea from time to time. Oreos are a very popular biscuit here in Spain, although you’re supposed to dip them in milk, according to the TV advert.

Gambas – For some reason I dreamt about prawns last night! I like them pre-peeled, served on a salad and drizzled with a blend of olive oil and lemon juice. However, I totally despise ripping off the shells and getting stinky fingers.

Garbanzos – These are chickpeas and you can buy them either dried in packets, or wet in jars. I like to order the Chana Masala dish from the local Indian restaurant as the core ingredient is chickpeas.

Gelatina – It’s not too difficult to work out what this one means. A clue, it’s a popular dessert for children’s parties and it wobbles on the plate. That’s it, jelly!

Habas – These are broad beans and they go nicely in stir frys and stews.

Helado – No matter how long you’ve lived in Spain for, you’ll know what the word 'helado' means… That’s right, ice cream! In the long hot summer months, helado becomes a necessary treat for sunny beach days and humid evenings.

Higado – Liver. For me, this is absolutely vile and I feel sick so much as thinking about it, so it’s probably best that I stop right there.

Higos – We Brits know higos as figs. There’s something about their appearance which doesn’t appeal, but when I put them in my mouth and begin to chew, suddenly I see why so many Spanish people rave about them!

Hinojo – A funny name… Fennel to us. Fennel, in case you didn’t know, is a herb usually added to many Italian dishes.

Huevos – If you keep chickens then no doubt they lay these now and again… That’s right, eggs! Fry them, scramble them, or boil them and invade the yolk with toastie soldiers!

Hamburguesa – No prizes for guessing this one! Hamburgers pop up all over the world and are extremely popular with all ages. Some blame them and other fast food for the explosion in obesity issues.

Hielo – This one’s cheating a bit because it’s not actually a food, but it’s placed into drinks to keep them cool. Ice!

Horchata – A milky looking beverage often served in heladerias (ice cream parlours) and surprisingly good for the health.

Hortalizas – This is the general term used by the Spanish for vegetables.

Jabalí – This is wild boar. Personally I haven’t seen it offered on many menus here on the Costa del Sol, which has me thinking that maybe it’s more of a northern Spain delicacy.

Jamón – Before moving to Spain I had no idea that so many varieties of ham could possibly exist. In England I knew of just one type – the type that you place between two slices of bread and add some cheese and maybe a tomato if you’re feeling adventurous. Here I’ve come across that difficult to bite Serrano ham, cooked ham, jamon de Jabugo and jamon de Trevelez, to name but a few…

Kikos – these are usually in a bag of nuts and are the rock hard corn pieces, mind your teeth!

Judias – Never a common sight in my kitchen cupboard, judias are better known as beans and I hate them with a passion. I can’t even stand the good old Heinz variety that come soaked in tomato sauce. As for any other kind, if they appear on my plate suddenly I lose my appetite.

Langostinos – Frequently placed in paella, langostinos are ‘king prawns’. I love the taste, but hate all that faffing around peeling off the shell and getting my fingers all stinky.

Leche Merengada – This is a yummy treat when you don’t know what to order at the ice cream parlour. It’s milk with meringues and it’s delish…

Lentejas – Another no-no for me is lentils. The few times I’ve attempted to eat them they hang around in my mouth, not wishing to pass down into my stomach. I chew them around for a while until I realise they’re not going anywhere. At that point I spit them out and resolve never to bother buying them, cooking them, or ordering them again, even if they are deemed healthy.

Lenguado – This is sole and it comes fried, grilled or battered.

Magdalena – Sponge cakes, which can be picked up by the bagful in the supermarkets. You can also buy them at the local panaderia (bakery). I find them a little dry, but they’re nice when dipped in tea, or hot chocolate if you’re feeling really naughty!

Mahonesa – This is mayonnaise and I like to dip chips in it, rather than eat them with ketchup or smothered in salt. Be careful with mayonnaise in Spain though – if you leave it sitting in the sun for any length of time it can go off very quickly!

Mantequilla – This is one of the first Spanish words I learnt. I was in a restaurant and wanted some butter to eat with some overly dry bread. I looked it up in my pocket dictionary and voila!

Mariscos – This is seafood such as prawns, muscles, clams and the like. I love a good sopa de mariscos as a starter.

Miel – Clue: What the bees make…Yeah, honey! A spoonful of high quality locally made honey helps allergy sufferers. Try it and see!

Migas de pan – These are breadcrumbs. In many Spanish restaurants you may also see ‘Migas’ on the menu. It’s chorizo and black pudding covered with breadcrumbs and sometimes an additional ingredient or two!

Morcilla – Black pudding, or pig’s blood…and totally vile. Someone pass me the sick bucket!

Naranja – This is an orange and hopefully a juicy one! Zumo de naranja is translated as ‘orange juice’. Or if you want the freshly squeezed variety ask for ‘nat-ur-al’

Nata – There are a few types of nata in the supermarkets so it’s important that you know which is which. Nata liquida is single cream, but check the carton to make sure it’s not the variety used for cooking purposes. The image on the carton should give the game away. If you see a chicken then you’ll know it’s for cooking, not to eat with a slice of cake! Nata montada is whipping cream and this is always used for desserts. You can eat it as it comes, or whip it up into a thicker consistency. Have fun!

Natillas – Custard and one of those tiresome desserts that there’s just no escaping from here in Spain! I’m always shocked that the Spanish eat custard cold.

Nectarina – See if you can guess…yes, a nectarine!

Nueces – These are nuts. Nueces de California are typically walnuts, but as for nueces in general it applies to all nuts, or should I say all edible ones!

We omit the O’s as I can’t think of any!

Paella – We should all know this one! A famous rice dish seasoned with saffron and usually made with seafood, meat, and vegetables. Sometimes chunks of rabbit sneak in…ahhhhh!

Pan – This one’s pretty obvious too. Just use your loaf and you’ll get it!

Patatas – Every meal in Spain seems to come with a serving of patatas and they’re usually the fried variety, patata fritas (or chips).

Pato – This is duck and commonly found in Chinese restaurants where you can wrap it up with strips of cucumber in a tasty pancake.

Pescado – The lifeblood of chiringuitos – fish is served by the plate, whether its clams, mussels, prawns, rosada, salmon, whitebait, or sardines.

Pera – Pears are incredibly scrumptious and I like to chop them up as a tasty addition to salad.

Pimientos – Peppers came in an array of different colours, although I find they all taste pretty much the same. They come in red, green and yellow.

Plátano – Platanos are bananas, but watch out - if you leave them uneaten for too long in the recent hot temperatures then they go brown and manky damn fast. Top tip: pop them in the freezer (peeled) and eat them as a healthy alternative ice cream. This works for seedless grapes too.

Pulpo – This is octopus for those who are daring enough to eat it. Personally it makes my tummy turn!

Queso – Loved by mice everywhere, and many people too, cheese is a popular tapas dish, often accompanied by jamon!

Revuelto – This is scrambled eggs and usually prepared with ham, mushrooms or peppers.

A la Romana - Means ‘battered’ and regular dishes served in this way include calamares, merluza, etc…

Romero – That sprig of a herb called rosemary, which adds a speck of flavour to a variety of dishes.  

Salchicha - thin pork sausage.

Sardinas – They may be a little finicky to eat, but sardines smell delicious. They’re a real chiringuito fave!

Sepia – I don’t often come across this one, but it’s cuttlefish (apparently).

Setas – These are wild mushrooms and they’re a popular addition to a pizza.

Sidra – There’s nothing quite like a nice glass of cider to wash down a hearty meal.

Sofrito – This is a tasty sauce made of olive oil, onion and a dash of paprika.

Solomillo – Commonly seen on Spanish menus, solomillo translates as 'tenderloin steak.'

Tomate – No prizes for guessing what this one could be….Ermmm tomato perhaps?!

Tortilla Española – If you’ve lived in Spain for any length of time and you haven’t tried the good old traditional Spanish omelette, made with potato, eggs and sometimes onion then you haven’t lived! It’s delicious….

Tortilla Francesa – The French form of omelette doesn’t contain potatoes, only eggs (unless you order a mushroom omelette of course, in which case it’ll also contain mushrooms, etc, etc…) 

Trucha – This is trout. To prepare for cooking wrap it in foil with garlic, onions, white wine, salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes or so, open your foil parcel and enjoy the succulent trout inside.

Torta – Pancake!

Turron – A seasonal treat, which appears in supermarkets any time from the end of October. It’s especially eaten during Christmas and the New Year.

Tarta – This is the word for cake and there are many different varieties. For example ‘tarta de queso’ is cheesecake. I find they never really get the biscuit base right (it’s always a bit soggy and disappointing), but apart from that who am I to moan?!

Ternera – Beef! If you’re looking for minced beef it’s called ‘ternera picada’. I’ve made many a nice spaghetti bolognaise since living in Spain.

Tomillo – Thyme! This is a herb, and like most herbs trial and error is key. Just chuck it in a dish one day and see if it makes it taste better…Masterchef here we come!

Tiburon – A strange one to end with…shark! Just make sure it’s dead before you attempt to put it on your plate…

Uvas – They come in bunches….. that’s right, grapes! I remember once a friend of my Mum’s asked for grapes in her cheese sandwich. ‘How strange’, I thought….until I secretly tried my own cheese and grape sandwich a few days later. Delicious! And there’s something else about grapes. If you pop them in the freezer in the summer, they make a refreshing (and scrumptious) snack when the heat is too hot to handle. Try it next summer!

Venado / Ciervo – This is deer, or venison if you want to get technical about it. I can’t help but think of the film Bambi every time I see someone with venison on their plate. Ah, poor Bambi!

Vieiras / Zamburiña – These are scallops and there’s something about that word which I hate, so I’m not even going to bother writing about them.

Vino – On the other hand there’s something about this word that I love, especially vino dulce, better known as ‘happy wine’….well it makes me happy anyway!

Whisky – I am cheating on this one as technically it’s not a food, but a drink. Many Spanish men are found in café bars early in the morning have a whisky and coffee.

Yema – That’s egg yolk and there are very few people who only eat the yolk, so I don’t even see the point of knowing this word. But how many of you know the word for the egg white hey?!

Zanahorias – These are carrots and it’s said that if you eat enough of them you start to turn orange, so don’t overdo it. Eat enough just to enable you to see well in the dark!

Zarzuela – This is the Spanish word for ‘casserole’. I used to hate casseroles when I was growing up as it meant eating a few too many vegetables in one sitting. However, now I love it when my Mum cooks a nice casserole and I happen to be at their place at dinner time!

Zumo – Juice! Not in the tennis sense, but the fruity liquid which slips down a treat, especially when it’s ‘natural’.  

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