At the same time, so-called “haute cuisine” dishes, served in pretentious establishments and with the same pretentious markups, in no way reflect the true preferences of local residents. Based on all of the above, it makes sense to focus on those fairly simple, but not primitive, national dishes/snacks that few visiting tourists know about. They can not only be found in the vast majority of bars and restaurants (at prices affordable to almost everyone), but they can also be prepared at home. And it is not surprising that the undisputed leadership in terms of the variety of dishes and the taste sensations from their consumption remains with the countries of the Mediterranean region.
Spain: Rabo de Toro and Pulpo a La Gallega
In Spain, one of whose symbols is the black bull, pork has long been the most common and affordable meat; It’s not for nothing that a local proverb says: “Everything about a pig is edible” (Del cerdo se come todo). However, beef can compete with it in this regard – in particular, stewed oxtails (rabo de toro).
If initially they were considered food for the poor who gathered at the exit from the bullring in anticipation of gifts from the victorious matadors, then over time they were also tasted by representatives of the wealthy segments of the population, who appreciated this delicate taste.
Of course, it is impossible to imagine Spain without seafood dishes, one of the most valuable of which is octopus. Despite its clearly Galician origins, as the name suggests (pulpo a la gallega or pulpo a la feira), this dish, seasoned with olive oil, salt, paprika and other spices, can be enjoyed in all regions of the country.
Portugal: cataplana and bifana
In terms of the use of fish and seafood, the Portuguese are in no way behind their neighbors on the Iberian Peninsula, and in some ways even surpass them. Visual evidence of this is the peculiar “sea hodgepodge” cataplana, the name of which comes from a unique copper pan in which white fish meat, shrimp, shellfish, vegetables (usually tomatoes, peppers, potatoes), lemon, bay leaf, saffron and other seasonings are placed. taste. Recently, smoked sausages and chicken have begun to be added there, but they are not included in the classic version.
The Portuguese have a reputation for being people who are not in a hurry and don’t bother themselves too much, but at the same time, even basic dishes turn out incredibly tasty. An example is the local version of the sandwich called bifana. It would seem that nothing could be simpler than pieces of pork between two halves of a soft bun, but this minimum was raised to a superlative degree. The fact is that, in accordance with the traditional recipe, suckling pig meat (leitão) is used, which is fried and stewed in wine, and served with spicy piri-piri sauce, also of Portuguese origin.
Italy: risotto and ossobuco
Rice-based dishes are common almost all over the world, and the first thing that comes to mind in this regard is paella and Uzbek pilaf. Italy cannot in any way be classified as a “rice” power, however, the inhabitants of the northern regions managed to distinguish themselves in this section of cooking, creating risotto. Its main characteristic is that the rice is cooked in beef broth and then bone marrow, mushrooms, grated cheese, butter and saffron are added to it. However, there are also “variations on a given theme” – then beans, green peas, sausage and even cuttlefish are used.
Risotto can easily be combined with osso buco (“bone with a hole”) – stewed or even stewed veal shank, chopped into small pieces – since bone marrow is also one of the main ingredients. Carrots, tomatoes and celery are usually used as garnishes, and during cooking, dry white wine is added to olive oil and butter.
France: bouybes et pied et paquet
“With all the wealth of choice, there is no other alternative,” this popular expression is absolutely true regarding the cuisine of Provence, a historical region in southeastern France. Due to the peculiarities of its geographical location, climate and landscape, this region stands out from all others. The same statement will be true for local dishes, most of which are based on lamb, goat, fish and seafood. The most prominent representatives of these are bouillabaisse (sea chowder) and pieds et paquets (roast legs of lamb and stomach pouches).
In the first case, from 5 to 10 types of sea fish are used (it is believed that the more there are, the richer the soup will be, but the presence of rascasse is required – le mot rascasse), squid, shrimp, lobsters, mussels, scallops (chefs ” haute cuisine” add lobster with lobster, but this is completely unnecessary), the same number of types of vegetables and seasonings. The fundamental difference from regular fish soup and its analogues is that the vegetables are pre-fried in olive oil and dry white wine, and lemon and cayenne pepper are used to add a piquant taste.