Across the world Paella is often considered Spain´s national dish. The Spaniards, however, will say that it is a Valencian dish and Valencians will agree, viewing it as one their most important specialities. The Paella Valenciana is most likely the original recipe, made with rice, beans, meat, sometimes snails, saffron and rosemary. Variations such as Paella demariscos (seafood), Paella mixta (mixed), Paella de verduras (vegetable) and many others followed later.
Rice is generally a very popular ingredient in Valencian dishes, as 3 types are cultivated in the area: Bomba, Senia and Bahía, of which Bomba is probably the most popular. Local rice dishes include arroz al horno (baked rice dish), arroz con judías y nabos (with beans and turnips), arroz a banda (with shrimps), arroz negro (coloured with squid ink) and arroz con vino tinto de monastrell (with red wine).
Not a lover of rice? Well thanks to Gabriel Rodríguez Pastor, who once was a cook on a ship in the port of Gandía, you can taste the typical flavours of a paella anyway. He is said to have used noodles instead of rice, creating another dish Valencia is famous for: The Fideuá.
Further staple ingredients of Valencia´s Mediterranean cuisine are of course olive oil, but also vegetables, citrus fruits, grapes, fish and meat, depending on what can be sourced locally, especially in La Huerta, the green belt surrounding the area, but of course also from the Mediterranean Sea, from which fresh fish and seafood is sourced daily.
For example, Esgarraet is a grilled red pepper salad with cured cod, garlic, olive oil and sometimes black olives. Soak up the flavours of this delicious tapa by soaking up the juice of the sweet red pepper and the delicious olive oil with a piece of bread.
Another example are tigernuts, which can be found in the fields surrounding Valencia and are used to make a refreshing drink called horchata de chufa, which is a mixture of tigernuts, water, lemon, cinnamon and sugar.
Talking about drinks, we must not forget that Valencia is famous for its oranges and mandarins, so you should definitely enjoy a freshly squeezed orange juice with your breakfast