Eating in Andalucía
Spain’s sheer scale and diversity means there is huge regional variety throughout the country when it comes to cuisine. In the north, meals are extremely hearty affairs, with suckling pig, steaming broths and rich stews dominating. Other regions such as Cataluña also have their own distinctive cuisines, while every inland pueblo will offer an individual take on the classics.
Andalucía, meanwhile, is the homeland of tapas. Meaning “lid” or “cover” in Spanish, the tapa originated in the bodegas of Granada, Córdoba and historical Castile as pieces of bread given free to patrons to place over their drinks to keep off the flies. Over time, these “lids” became more decorative and were soon just as important as the drink they were protecting underneath. Today, just about every bar in Andalucía offers tapas of varying selection and quality, occasionally free with a round of drinks, although more commonly sold at an extremely reasonable price.
Additional dishes and drinks that can trace their origins to Andalucía include sherry, gazpacho, Spanish omelette (tortilla), migas (essentially, flour-based breadcrumbs), cured ham from Jabugo or the Alpujarras, and olive oil.
On many a morning in Andalucía – along the Costa del Sol promenades, through the winding tapestry of Sevilla’s ancient streets, or while filling up with petrol at a nondescript service station in the heart of the dusty sierra – it is not unusual to catch a whiff of something rather familiar.
The unmistakeable aroma of dough and sugar fusing together over heat will almost invariably transport your senses to a donut vendor from some fairground in the faraway past. Sweet and enticing… your interest is piqued, your appetite shaken from its slumber and cranked into overdrive.
They are churros you can smell, and for many people they are a Spanish breakfast staple – from Barcelona to Cádiz. Churros are deep-fried lengths of sweet dough, rolled in sugar and customarily dipped into a steaming mug of hot chocolate. They are eaten for breakfast, and by everyone from stick-thin catwalk types to those whose health might be better served by chowing down on something less calorific. Inexpensive and delicious either on-the-go or as part of a relaxed café breakfast, churros are one of Spain's best-loved dishes – and an increasingly popular sight throughout the rest of the world.
Of course, not everybody appreciates or enjoys a dish so sweet for breakfast. Fortunately, savoury dishes abound in cafés throughout the Costa del Sol, including all manner of omelettes (tortillas), rustic bread topped with garlic, fresh tomato, olive oil and thin serrano
ham, toasted sandwiches and, of course, the classic “Full English”, available in popular tourist areas along the Coast.