Barcelona Hotels Articles

April 2, 2010

Is all Spanish food spicy?

That Spanish food is spicy is a modern myth. The food in Spain as with many of the countries along the Mediterranean use plenty of herbs, garlic and olive oil so dishes are full of flavor and spicy in that sense but not spicy as in hot.

The hot pepper was introduced to Spain upon the return of Columbus. With it came the tomato, and shortly thereafter chocolate and vanilla. The tomato took off and soon became a mainstay in dishes throughout Spain and much of Europe. Chocolate and vanilla were soon found as standard additions to traditional recipes. The hot pepper was sent packing back to the “New World” never to gain a foothold.

There is a tomato based sauce called Bravas which is used over fried potatoes. It is tasty as can be but its spice level is as if one put a single drop of Tabasco sauce in twelve ounces of tomato puree. OK maybe two drops. It’s the garlic that gives the bravas a little zip not the paprika.

The spicy chorizo is mild when placed up against the chorizo of Mexico, South America or Chicago for that matter. The spicy chorizo which is rarely eaten by itself is the hottest food that Spain has to offer. This slightly picante sausage which also comes in a mild version is minced and added to a few rice and egg dishes.

Spain has two versions of paprika, hot and sweet. The hot lends more of a smoky flavor than a spicy kick to foods. Now for hot paprika try the hot Hungarian. OK it’s not really hot either but incrementally hotter than Spanish.

Talking all this spice got me fired up, so off to Madrid I went in search of some spicy goodness. Dozoko in Madrid had plenty of wasabi or hot Japanese horseradish for my sushi and sinuses. It was great and so was the sushi. I still wasn’t satisfied. On I went to Barcelona in search of heat. At last I found it at George and Dragon Pub. Nothing like bangers and mashed swimming in brown sauce with a dab of Coleman’s English mustard to get your heart going. Or perhaps stop it cold. They actually had nachos here too.

Certainly I jest for Spain has the most delightful food in the world. I’m putting on pounds just thinking of the wonderful Tapas I’d indulge in before sitting down to a sumptuous two hour meal. Rather the story above points out that it is far easier to find something spicy in a pub or sushi bar than in any Spanish restaurant in Spain. The English and the Japanese are not well know for their spicy food so why would anyone think that Spain was.

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