Valencia is a special place for so many reasons but it is a culinary delight offering the freshest food from regionally and locally produced fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil and a variety of homemade breads and sweets.
The region or “Land of Valencia” offers some of the finest foods in Spain and in all of Europe. And, they are all produced in the region, protected by the “denominations of origin”. This means they are controlled products from certain geographical and limited areas, offering premium quality products. Fish is caught fresh daily and produce is harvested on an on-going basis from the fertile soils and hundreds of orchards supply fresh fruit throughout the region. Here in the “Land of Valencia” you will find the finest artichokes, grapes, cherries, peppers, truffles, olive oils, honey, oranges, lemons, prawns. The list goes on and on. There is a lot of variety and it is guaranteed to be fresh and delicious!
Many dishes are prevalent throughout Valencia and Spain. You will find an abundance of fresh fish (tunny, sardines, hake, red mullet, sole, anglerfish, octopus, swordfish, grey mullet, cuttlefish, redfish, mackerel and many others) prepared in various ways: baked, grilled, lightly fried or cooked in stews. Valencians are fond of soups, stews, and casseroles including paella.
One dish widely consumed, perhaps more than paella, is bullet. This simple dish consists of boiled vegetables such as chard, green beans, onion and potato and is a dinner staple. Empanadas or stuffed pastries with different vegetables (chard, peas, onion, peppers, etc) or dried meats, sausages or salted and dried fish are also a favorite rivaling many fine pizzas.
Many unique and different dishes are made from the locally sourced foods. Valencia is famous for the markets or huertas surrounding the city and along the river. There you will find a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and legumes that can be purchased daily. Everything sold is fresh and some even rare to find anywhere else. This includes the exceptionally tasty olive oil. Only 1% is produced in this region.
The Valencians love their sweets including a variety of pastries, ice cream, custards, cookies. Sweet pastries and numerous confections and candy can be found all throughout the year. Popular during religious events are special artisan cheeses and sweetmeats. At the end of winter and into the Christmas season, sweet floury breads are made. During the Easter season various “Easter loaves” are baked. Another popular dessert is the arnadí made with sweet potato or pumpkin. Almond cookies and marzipan are prepared with the almonds and honey of the region. A very popular confection especially during Christmas time is the turrón. This nougat is typically made with honey, sugar, egg whites, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and then shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake.
Refreshing iced drinks are popular in the area including iced barley, iced lemon and a very popular sweet drink, the Horchata or tiger nut milk. This drink dates back to the ancient Egyptians. The tiger nut is grown in the ground. It is round, boneless and skinless. The tubers, when cooked become very sweet. This is the base for the horchata. It is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It is both a refreshing beverage and offers many health properties.
Valencia is a special place to visit and one to taste a variety of culinary delights. You won’t be disappointed.
For more information on Valencia and the wonderful culinary delights contact the Valencia Region Tourist Board.