What to eat in València
Rice, fruit, vegetables and fresh fish and seafood are the main ingredients in this exquisite Mediterranean cuisine.
Rice and paella in València
It was the Arabs who brought rice growing to the vicinity of the Albufera natural park in the 18th century. Today three varieties of rice are grown over an extension of 16,000 hectares: Bomba, Senia and Bahia. It was here that settlers to the areas invented a stew based on rice and local produce, which gave rise to paella.
Aside from the traditional Valencian paella, there are over 40 other rice dishes for visitors to sample, including arroz al horno (rice baked in the oven),arroz a la banda (rice cooked in fish stock), arroz negro (rice cooked with squid in its own ink) and arròs amb fesols i naps, a brothy rice made with beans and turnips (the rice may be substituted for noodles).
The name of the dish comes from the recipient used for cooking it, and although its popularity has led to the appearance of different versions of the recipe, the original includes the following ingredients: chicken, rabbit, ferraura (green beans), garrofón (lima beans), tomato, rice (with a València Denomination of Origin), olive oil, water, saffron, garlic and salt.
Cooking requires a plentiful heat source, although tradition demands that it is cooked over an open fire.
When it comes to tasting, you can choose to either eat it the traditional way, with a wooden spoon direct from the recipient itself, or from individual plates.
If you're looking to sample an authentic Valencian paella and revel in the mastery of the rice chefs, who treat both the rice and their recipes with the utmost respect, professionalism and care, then pay a visit to Wikipaella for the quintessential guide to all things paella.
Traditional Valencian cuisine also comprises a wide variety of stews, the most popular of which include Suquet de Peix (fish stew), Alli i Pebre, made using freshly-caught eels from the Albufera natural park, Cocido de Nadal (winter stew) and L’Olleta (rice stew whose ingredients vary from place to place).
Fruit and vegetables in València
Fruit and vegetables form an integral part of the Valencian diet and are grown in La Huerta, an irrigated green area surrounding the city and one of the largest of its kind in Spain today. The vegetables from La Huerta are used to make tasty salads. A traditional Valencian salad is made up of tomatoes, lettuce and onion.
Valencian oranges are the region’s standout fruit crop. Though they are typically harvested in winter and autumn, they are available year round. Boasting multiple varieties and excellent quality, these oranges are nothing short of an exquisite delicacy.
Products from the Mediterranean
Sardines, hake, red mullet, cuttlefish and tuna are just some of the Mediterranean products which form the basis of the region’s fish stews. We mustn't forget the famous prawns from the neighbouring town of Denia, and the tasty clochinas or Mediterranean mussels (only available during the months without an 'R', so the story goes)
Patatas bravas (sautéed potatoes served with spicy tomato sauce), grilled cuttlefish, clochinas, clams, anchovies in vinegar and cod croquets, are just some of the city’s must-try tapas dishes, best accompanied by a cold beer or sangria. Salted fish products are also commonplace in Valencian cuisine, especially air-dried tuna, roe and salted cod, used in traditional dishes such asesgarraet, a combination of roasted peppers and aubergines served with salted cod and dressed with olive oil.
Valencian sweet treats
Valencian confectionery has a notable Muslim influence, as evidenced by the use of almonds and honey. Examples include Arnadí (a pastry made from pumpkin and almonds), almojábanas (a type of bread made with cuajada cheese and corn flour), rosegones (almond biscuits), arrop i tallaetes (fruit pieces in an intense dark syrup elaborated from grapes) and orelletes (biscuits whose name literally translates as “little ears” due to their shape). And let us not forget the buñuelos de calabaza (pumpkin buns), coca de llanda (sponge cake), fartons (pastry fingers, traditionally eaten with a glass of cold horchata), pasteles de boniato (pastries made with white sweet potato) and the traditional marzipan frutas de Sant Dionis