Valencian gastronomy has a very marked contrast between the coast (with its seafood and fresh vegetables) and the inland (where meat is the king of the kitchen).
Rice and paella
A unifying element between both cuisines is rice, which has been cultivated since Muslim times. It is the basis of the Valencian diet, from both the sea and the land.
Thanks to rice, it is possible to create what is undoubtedly the greatest culinary feat in Valencia and one of the most famous dishes in the world: Valencian paella.
This is an authentic delicacy of the gods in which the flavour of the sea is combined with rice to create something unique and magnificent that, over time, has produced dozens of variants.
In fact, Valencia's rice tradition includes a constellation of dishes such as stews with chorizo, peas, olives or seafood. Its enormous popularity has crossed the Iberian peninsular borders, reaching places as far away as Thailand, Argentina and South Africa.
Starters to paradise
Valencian cuisine stands out in all its aspects, but especially its appetizers, among which is a simply spectacular stew.
The most popular appetizers include salted fish, especially cod, “mojama” or roe, with which other dishes such as “titaina”, “espencat” and “esgarraet” are made. Other entries are the exquisite salads made with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles such as capers or olives.
The production of soft cheeses stands out, as in the case of “cassoleta” and “blanquet”. The production of sausages is more abundant, including sausage, black pudding, sobrassada and chorizo.
All these appetizers are very popular and constitute a true introduction of pleasant flavours to the main dishes.
Stews and sauces
Other typical dishes, consumed mostly in winter, are the famous “olletas”, made with rice, bones, pork, legumes and black pudding; stewed balls, a typical Valencian Christmas dish; and stews.
Valencia is fertile in sauces thanks to its famous olive oil and garlic – the basic ingredients of many creations and used to season a large number of dishes.
Cocas and sweets
In addition to its exquisite rice dishes and stews, Valencia stands out for its “cocas”, flat flour dough cakes that can be salty or sweet and are usually stuffed with tuna or tomato.
As for Valencian confectionery, the influence of Arab culture is more than noticeable in the use of honey and almonds in abundance, especially in nougat.
Other sweets are “cascas” made with ground almonds, eggs, sugar and candied yolk, lemon or orange zest and meringue. “Casca” is generally consumed on Three Wise Men Day.
The list of sweets is as long as it is delicious and includes “arnadí”, an exquisite cake made with almonds and pumpkin, as well as “rosigones”, “orelletes” and “almojábanas”. “Monas” and “panquemados” are also very popular and are generally consumed during the Easter celebration. Also, one can’t forget sweet potato cakes, a traditional Christmas sweet.
Refreshing Valencian drinks
Valencia also stands out for its production of refreshing drinks for the summer months. The most popular is tiger nut milk, which is drunk cold, liquid or iced.
Also renowned is Valencia water, an exquisite cocktail whose origin dates back to the 50s and is prepared with orange juice and vodka or, failing that, gin.