If you’re planning a vacation to Spain you probably have a full agenda. If you’re going to Barcelona, a visit to at least one of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces will surely be a highlight of the trip. Going to Madrid? No doubt you’re excited about visiting a world-class museum of spending the afternoon people watching in Plaza Mayor. If a visit to wine country is more your style, you have your choice of many great wineries in the rolling hills throughout the country.
But what about the food? Have you put much thought into your dining plans? Tapas and wine are a must, and finding world-class hot spots for both won’t be hard at all. But what about the more unusual options? Here is a sampling of some of the strangest foods you’ll likely be tempted to eat while in Spain – either because they sound so odd or because you just want a taste of traditional Spanish cuisine that is not quite as well known by the masses.
1) Shredded Baby Eel
Those who love fresh seafood are in for a treat while traveling in Spain. Sure, you can get the standard dishes, but why not go for something a little different? Angulas are baby eels, which are shredded and served fried or sautéed. In many cases they look like pasta when served with a vinaigrette dressing, but they certainly don’t taste like it. They also often accompany salads or pasta.
2) Goose Barnacles
Another oceanic treat, percebes are goose or gooseneck barnacles, which grow on hard underwater surfaces like rocks. They are actually quite the delicacy and known for being very costly. Adventurous diners with a few extra dollars to spare enjoy barnacles by sucking them out of their shells.
3) Bull Testicles
A traditional dish with a long history, including stories of increased bravery and manliness in those who eat them, bull testicles are breaded and fried in many Spanish dining establishments. Locally called criadillas, they are often served with a spicy wine sauce.
4) Galician Octopus
Known for being rubbery, pulpo de gallego is generally frozen in order to cut down on some of that pesky texture. It is then boiled and typically prepared as a stew with boiled potatoes and vegetables.
5) Bull’s Tail
As if eating the testicles weren’t enough, Spaniards also have a tasty way for preparing bull’s tail. Rabo de toro is a simmering stew that features tomatoes, beef stock, vegetables, and lots of spices. Some chefs give it a boost of flavor with one of the country’s many noteworthy wines. Less prestigious restaurants may serve a variation of the dish with cow’s tail.
6) Pig’s Ear
You might think a pig’s ear is best suited for a dog’s chew snack, but in Spain oreja de cerdo is a popular tapa. It’s generally served as part of a stew or roasted with vegetables.
Proving that not all of Spain’s so-called strange foods are for the carnivorous types, breadcrumbs are one dish you may be surprised to see on the menu. Cooked with garlic, paprika, and olive oil, migas make a simple meal that is quite popular throughout the country. Variations of the dish include chorizo and may be eaten with grapes or melon.
If you’re planning a trip to Spain, there’s one other thing you won’t want to forget – brushing up on your Spanish skills. With snails, bull testicles, and other oddities on the menu, you’ll be glad to understand the options and know what you’re ordering! If you’re interested in learning about Spanish classes near you, contact us today. And if you’ve traveled to Spain and have an interesting food story to share, make sure to write in the comments section below!