Are you a foodie planning a trip to Valencia and looking for a true taste of the city’s culinary culture? As someone who’s lucky enough to live here, I know that finding the best places to eat can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many options to choose from.
But fear not, because I’m here to guide you through Valencia’s gastronomic scene and help you discover the most delicious and authentic dishes!
From the iconic paella to lesser-known local delicacies, this article will take you on a mouth-watering journey through Valencia’s foodie paradise. You’ll also learn about the history and cultural significance behind each dish, giving you a deeper understanding and appreciation for Valencia’s food scene.
So get ready to feast your eyes and tantalize your taste buds with the flavors of Valencia. By the end of this article, you’ll have a complete food itinerary to follow to make sure you have a belly full of delicious Valencian cuisine the next time you visit. Let’s dig in!
When you think about Spain, what’s the first dish that pops into your head? If it’s Paella, you’re on the right track! But did you know that it has its roots firmly planted in Valencia – in fact, it was actually created here, making it easily one of the most famous things that Valencia is known for!
The dish was traditionally cooked by farmers over a wood fire for lunch, and it soon became a beloved local tradition and a symbol of communal sharing. This means that if you want to experience true Valencian culture, indulging in a traditional paella in the city of its birth is a must.
Now, you might be picturing a dish filled to the brim with assorted seafood, right? Well, the classic Paella Valenciana is actually a delicious mix of local rabbit, chicken, green beans, white beans, and snails (if you’re feeling adventurous), all infused with saffron and rosemary over a bed of short-grain rice. This is the original, the real-deal paella!
There’s nothing quite like seeing it cooked right in front of you, with the beautiful Valencia sun shining overhead. Simply put, it’s a sensory experience like no other that you have to try while you’re here.
You may not have heard of fideuá, but you really should before you come to Valencia. Essentially, it’s paella’s equally delicious but slightly lesser-known cousin.
Instead of rice, this Valencian dish uses short, thin noodles known as “fideos.” Much like its more famous relative, Fideuá is traditionally cooked in a paella pan and is usually filled with a variety of seafood like fish, squid, and shellfish.
Legend has it that Fideuá was born in the coastal town of Gandia (which is a great day trip from Valencia if you’re looking to do some more food tourism while you’re here). Supposedly, a creative cook decided to replace rice with noodles in a traditional paella dish, and voila! Fideuá was born.
Today, it’s a popular dish along the Valencian coast that embodies the area’s love for seafood and innovation. It’s a must-try for anyone who loves pasta and seafood, and it’s especially fantastic when enjoyed with a view of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.
3. Fartons (and Horchata)
Time to shift gears to the sweeter side of Valencian cuisine with Fartons – and the drink you have to have them with, horchata.
Fartons are elongated, soft, and sweet pastries that are perfect for dipping into horchata. They have a sugar glaze on top that gives them a deliciously sweet and slightly crunchy finish.
And while you may have heard of the Mexican version of horchata, the Spanish one is made a bit differently. Instead, it’s a refreshing, sweet milky drink made from tigernuts, water, and sugar. With both products coming from Valencia, the combination of Fartons dipped in Horchata is a match made in local heaven!
In fact, the delightful duo of fartons and horchata has been linked to Valencia for centuries, with horchata de chufa (tiger nut horchata) being native to the town of Alboraya, near Valencia. The tradition of dipping Fartons into Horchata is said to have begun in the 1960s, creating a unique Valencian tradition that continues to this day.
When in Valencia, you simply can’t miss out on this iconic pairing. The experience of a warm, sunny afternoon spent savoring Fartons dunked in a glass of icy cold Horchata is as Valencian as it gets. Plus, it’s the perfect way to cool down and satisfy your sweet tooth after a day of sightseeing!
Prepare for a sugar rush as we delve into the world of Buñuelos, Valencia’s version of doughnut-like delights! Specifically, they’re small, round pastries that are deep-fried until golden and then sprinkled with sugar.
The result? Sweet, fluffy balls of delight that are simply irresistible! They’re often enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate for dipping, making them the perfect indulgent treat.
Buñuelos have a long history in Valencia, especially during the annual Las Fallas festival held in Valencia in March. During this time, you’ll find Buñuelos stalls popping up all over the city, filling the air with the irresistible aroma of frying dough and sugar. They’re a festive treat that’s become a beloved part of Valencia’s cultural heritage.
If you’re a fan of doughnuts (and who isn’t?), you can’t leave Valencia without trying Buñuelos. These sweet treats are a beautiful representation of Valencia’s festive spirit and culinary creativity.
And remember, they’re not just for dessert – in Valencia, it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy Buñuelos for breakfast, too!
5. All i Pebre
All i Pebre is a beloved Valencian dish that packs a punch! It literally translates to “Garlic and Pepper,” giving you a hint about its robust flavor profile.
It’s a hearty stew made from eel, potatoes, garlic, and a generous amount of paprika. This dish is not for the faint-hearted but is a treasure trove of flavors for those who love a bit of spice!
This is a traditional dish from the Albufera Lagoon area, a beautiful natural park near Valencia. The eels used in the dish are native to these waters, making this a truly local specialty.
Trying All i Pebre in Valencia is an opportunity to experience a more rustic and earthy side of Valencian cuisine. The dish is a testament to the region’s resourcefulness and love for bold flavors.
Esgarraet is a delightful salad that embodies the fresh, vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean. It’s made with roasted red peppers and salted cod, drizzled with olive oil, and often sprinkled with slivers of garlic and sometimes even black olives.
The result is a colorful and flavorful dish that’s perfect as a light meal or a side dish. It’s also a very local thing to eat, being a traditional Valencian dish with simple yet bold flavors that reflect the region’s love for fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
The salted cod used in the dish is a nod to Valencia’s coastal location and the age-old practice of preserving fish with salt.
When you’re in Valencia, trying Esgarraet is like tasting the Mediterranean on a plate. The dish is a beautiful blend of flavors and textures, and it’s a testament to the magic that can happen when you let quality ingredients shine. Plus, it’s a fantastic option for a light, healthy meal while you’re exploring the city!
7. Arroz al Horno
Arroz al Horno, or Oven-Baked Rice, is a hearty, comforting dish that’s perfect for those who love their food packed with flavors and textures. This dish features a delectable combination of pork ribs, sausage, chickpeas, tomato, and rice, all beautifully baked in the oven until perfectly cooked.
It’s usually served in a traditional clay pot, adding an extra touch of authenticity to the dish. That makes particular sense around here, given that Arroz al Horno is a typical dish from the inland regions of Valencia.
It’s traditionally prepared on Sundays or festive days and is a perfect example of the traditional Valencian way of life, where nothing goes to waste and every ingredient is used to its fullest.
Author bio: Anna from Spain Inspired
Anna is the founder of Spain Inspired, a website where she shares insider tips and hidden gems to inspire visitors to take the road less traveled and explore Spain like a local. Now living in Valencia, Anna’s made it her mission to help fellow travelers experience the very best of this stunning country – with some great wine and tapas along the way, ideally!
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