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A Tapas Tour of Spain

In search of classic flavors, unhurried conversations, and cuisine that welcomes the new while celebrating the old?A visit to the crowded tapas bars of Spain will show you how these small plates define—and preserve—the Iberian way of life.

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You’re getting it all wrong about tapas — starting with the meaning of the word

A few weeks ago, Spain announced that its Ministry of Culture will seek protective status for tapas, its prized culinary ritual. This protection would come by way of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, which aims to safeguard “traditions or living expressions” of cultural knowledge, practices and skills. Flamenco, for instance, is already listed. So is the violin making of Cremona, Italy; Chinese shadow puppetry; Estonian smoke saunas; Slovakian bagpipe culture; and the Mongolian coaxing ritual for camels.

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Paella 101 Spain Travel

Spain is a foodie heaven, but there are few — if any — dishes quite so emblematic of the European nation as paella. Here, a quick primer to the famed rice dish, plus how you can try a spoonful for yourself.

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About Spanish food

Spanish food is incredibly varied, the first recipes were written in the fourteenth century and the cuisine was in turns enriched by the Moors, Arabs, Sephardic Jews, French and Italians, as well as the voyages of discovery to the New World, which resulted in a huge range of new ingredients. These things, combined with the differences across the country in terms of geography, culture and climate, have led to a diverse cuisine that is hard to generalize about too much. There are literally thousands of recipes and flavours to experience. Besides such well-known dishes as tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), paella and the legendary Jamon and Serrano (cured hams), various stews, sausages, cheeses, beans and breads all form a key part of the Spanish diet. Spanish desserts and cakes include flans, custards, rice puddings, and the dangerously delicious churros (fried doughnuts dipped in hot chocolate sauce).

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Some Useful Tips

Spain seems to revolve around food, with the main meals of the day — a late lunch at about 2 p.m., and a late dinner at 10 p.m. — supplemented by many smaller ones. Bars fill up with hungry people in search of drinks, conversation, and little dishes called tapas at about 1 p.m. and then again at about 8 p.m.

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Exploring Spanish Food

These days, Spain is getting a lot of acclaim in the culinary world for its cutting-edge experimental chefs. But the country has an equally distinguished cuisine of home cooking and traditional dishes, which we’re celebrating in our special collection of recipes, techniques and ingredients.