The Mediterranean diet is in fashion. Basic products such as extra virgin olive oil, fresh vegetables, pulses, fruit, fish and a broad range of generous wines have made Andalusian cuisine a major attraction. Andalusia has a tasty and healthy cuisine that allows maximum enjoyment with each of the senses. Andalusian cuisine, with olive oil being the main ingredient of it’s recipes, centres on fresh local ingredients, with fish dishes available in coastal provinces and the finest meat dishes inland. A huge variety of exotic fruit are to be found throughout. Perhaps the only difference is the personal touch that each town and village gives to its typical dishes.
Andalusia’s gastronomy is a faithful reflection of its history, packed with aromas, flavours and colours. It is a highly varied cuisine and its traditional products make it different and delicious. Some star products are cold hams of the Sierra de Huelva, cheeses and exquisite pastries from the Al Andalus heritage The gastronomy of Andalusia owes much to the Moorish cuisine of Al Andalus. Its refinement came to transform many customs. It was the people of Al Andalus who created the dining room and the current order of dishes in a traditional Andalusian meal. Casseroles with vegetables and pulses , game stews, along with different seafood dishes are the essence of this cuisine.
The most universal Andalusian dish, on account of its nutritional value and easy preparation is gazpacho, a cold soup based on tomato, cucumber, pepper, garlic, olive oil and vinegar, made creamy by beating bread with olive oil. The soup is very refreshing, served icy cold on a hot summer’s day. There are many other variations that add or omit ingredients, such as salmorejo, pink with tomato, garnished with eggs and raw ham. Ajo Blanco, a white version of the gazpacho with almonds, white bread, olive oil, sherry vinegar and green grapes. And porra, a much thicker version, usually served as a tapa in which they add breadcrumbs, paprika, chopped hard boiled eggs and finely chopped ham. .
Arabic influences show as well in the use of herbs and spices such as mint, thyme and rosemary which flourish in the wild and are used to flavour meats. The use of almonds and honey in desserts also comes from the Moors. The Christian heritage shows in the tradition of roasting meat and traditional butchery methods creating sausages, drippings and cured hams. Sherry is a cooking ingredient in almost all parts of Spain, vinegar made from sherry is still considered a gourmet ingredient, except in the south-western area around Jérez. In Cádiz, for example, one of the traditional local recipes is Salpicón de Langostino y Tomate (shrimp and tomato in sherry vinaigrette).