The Spanish are masters of making the unusual and weird into delicacies. Proper nose-to-tail eaters, most Weird Spanish Food originates from times gone by when you ate what you could find, and made the most of every part.
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While potatas bravas, sliced jamon and paella are undeniable tasty, those culinary adventurers who reach out to Spain’s more unusual gastronomic delights will be pleasantly surprised.
Angulas / Eels
Flickr: Joselu Blanco
These look weird, right? Angulas are tiny elver eels about 5cms long. Simply sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic, this once throwaway fish eaten solely by fishermen in the Basque region now command serious prices. The price tag per kilo. Oh, only about 900 euros. However, fear not. Mock angulas, referred to as gulas, are made from surimi and are much cheaper.
Calçots are part of the spring onion family, although larger like a small leek and with a milder taste. It’s not so much the ingredient, but the way it’s eaten that’s weird. During Calçotada, the annual event in Catalonia’s Tarragona, vast quantities are grilled over hot coals and eaten with bare hands after peeling back the charred layer and dipping in a little romesco sauce.
Callos a la Madrileña / Tripe stew
Flickr: javier lastras
This tasty dish, served all over the country but originating from Madrid, is a humble stew made from tripe, the stomach lining of cows. While many find the taste and texture of tripe unappealing, once stewed with a little chorizo, chickpeas and some bell peppers for a few hours it’s actually very pleasing.
Galician pulpo / Octopus
Flickr: Trevor Huxham
If you’re going to reach out and try just one new thing, make it Galician pulpo. The tentacles of a slowly boiled octopus are cut into coin-shaped medallions and covered in a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt and smoked paprika. A common tapa that’s accompanied by boiled potatoes and cold beer. Looks weird, tastes amazing.
Morcilla / Blood sausage
Morcilla is a sausage made from pig’s blood, fat and a whole host of other ingredients depending on the region visited. Grilled, fried, served on bread or used in soups and stews, morcilla is as versatile as it is tasty. A sweet version, called morcilla dulce, can be found in some northern regions and the Canary Islands.
Percebes / Goose barnacles
Flickr: andrea clambra
Called goose barnacles in English, these chewy little morsels are eaten by sucking them from their shell. Simply boiled in a little salt water, they taste intensely of the sea. These prized delicacies command sky high prices, in part due to the dangers of collecting them from their precarious rocky home along Spain’s northern Galicia coastline.
Flickr: Brian Suda
Weird Spanish Food doesn’t get weirder than this. Let’s face it, the lamprey has not been blessed with good looks. But these parasitic sea creatures have been eaten as far back as the ancient Romans, who highly appreciated them. In Spain, the traditional method of cooking calls for nothing more than simply boiling them in their own blood, olive oil, garlic, vinegar and a little wine.
Oreja de Cerdo / Pig’s ears
Pig’s ears may not sound all that appealing and you’ll literally biting into cartilage, so it can be a little tough to eat. But deep friend with plenty of seasoning and they’re scrumptious. While the inside is chewy, the outside is covered in a little layer of fat. Sometimes you’ll find them boiled and disguised in meaty stews and cocidos. Best eaten in Madrid’s tapas bars
There are others, but we’ll leave the brains and bulls testicles for now. Ready to try some weird Spanish food?
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