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15 Spanish Foods the Rest of the World Fails to Understand

Spanish cuisine has made its way around the world thanks to tapas culture, but there are certain dishes that are still perplexing to foreigners. Whether commonly misunderstood famous dishes or more bizarre local favourites, we count down the Spanish food the rest of the world sometimes fails to understand.
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Spanish cuisine has made its way around the world thanks to tapas culture, but there are certain dishes that are still perplexing to foreigners. Whether commonly misunderstood famous dishes or more bizarre local favourites, we count down the Spanish food the rest of the world sometimes fails to understand.

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One of the most bewildering Spanish habits for foreigners is Spaniards’ addition to sunflower seeds, or pipas. Spaniards seem to be born with the innate ability to eat sunflower seeds at rapid speed, separating the seed from the shell, which they discard, usually on the ground if they’re outside.
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One of the most bewildering Spanish habits for foreigners is Spaniards’ addition to sunflower seeds, or pipas. Spaniards seem to be born with the innate ability to eat sunflower seeds at rapid speed, separating the seed from the shell, which they discard, usually on the ground if they’re outside.
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Sunflower Seeds

One of the most bewildering Spanish habits for foreigners is Spaniards’ addition to sunflower seeds, or pipas. Spaniards seem to be born with the innate ability to eat sunflower seeds at rapid speed, separating the seed from the shell, which they discard, usually on the ground if they’re outside.

 
You might have seen these spaghetti-style wriggly worms in food markets and tapas bars across Spain. They are, in fact, baby eels that have been skinned and are a popular tapa served on a chunk of crusty bread. Nice.
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You might have seen these spaghetti-style wriggly worms in food markets and tapas bars across Spain. They are, in fact, baby eels that have been skinned and are a popular tapa served on a chunk of crusty bread. Nice.
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Angulas

You might have seen these spaghetti-style wriggly worms in food markets and tapas bars across Spain. They are, in fact, baby eels that have been skinned and are a popular tapa served on a chunk of crusty bread. Nice.

 
While breadcrumbs are an important ingredient in many dishes, it is perhaps only the Spanish who have elevated the humble breadcrumb into a dish of its own. Migas, or breadcrumbs in English, is a dish of stale breadcrumbs seasoned with olive oil, paprika and garlic. Trust us, it tastes better than it sounds.
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While breadcrumbs are an important ingredient in many dishes, it is perhaps only the Spanish who have elevated the humble breadcrumb into a dish of its own. Migas, or breadcrumbs in English, is a dish of stale breadcrumbs seasoned with olive oil, paprika and garlic. Trust us, it tastes better than it sounds.
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Migas

While breadcrumbs are an important ingredient in many dishes, it is perhaps only the Spanish who have elevated the humble breadcrumb into a dish of its own. Migas, or breadcrumbs in English, is a dish of stale breadcrumbs seasoned with olive oil, paprika and garlic. Trust us, it tastes better than it sounds.

 
This popular vegetable isn’t weird, but the traditions around eating it are very exact. The spring onion-like vegetable is typically eaten at the calçotada, a party celebrating the vegetable’s harvest. They are grilled over an open fire, then the burned outer layer peeled off before being dipped into a romesco sauce.
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This popular vegetable isn’t weird, but the traditions around eating it are very exact. The spring onion-like vegetable is typically eaten at the calçotada, a party celebrating the vegetable’s harvest. They are grilled over an open fire, then the burned outer layer peeled off before being dipped into a romesco sauce.
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Calçots

This popular vegetable isn’t weird, but the traditions around eating it are very exact. The spring onion-like vegetable is typically eaten at the calçotada, a party celebrating the vegetable’s harvest. They are grilled over an open fire, then the burned outer layer peeled off before being dipped into a romesco sauce.

 
The bull is an enduring symbol of Spain and can be seen gracing many a souvenir, from tea towels to postcards, but bulls are also a favourite on Spanish menus: rabo de toro, or bulls tail, is a popular tapas dish. A more uncommon sight on menus, but a favourite in markets across Spain are criadillas, or bulls testicles – you might need a strong stomach to sample this delicacy.
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The bull is an enduring symbol of Spain and can be seen gracing many a souvenir, from tea towels to postcards, but bulls are also a favourite on Spanish menus: rabo de toro, or bulls tail, is a popular tapas dish. A more uncommon sight on menus, but a favourite in markets across Spain are criadillas, or bulls testicles – you might need a strong stomach to sample this delicacy.
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Criadillas

The bull is an enduring symbol of Spain and can be seen gracing many a souvenir, from tea towels to postcards, but bulls are also a favourite on Spanish menus: rabo de toro, or bulls tail, is a popular tapas dish. A more uncommon sight on menus, but a favourite in markets across Spain are criadillas, or bulls testicles – you might need a strong stomach to sample this delicacy.

 
You might see this hearty meaty concoction on menus around the Spanish capital. It smells great and can look delicious but be warned – the main ingredient is callos, or tripe.
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You might see this hearty meaty concoction on menus around the Spanish capital. It smells great and can look delicious but be warned – the main ingredient is callos, or tripe.
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Callos a la Madrileña

You might see this hearty meaty concoction on menus around the Spanish capital. It smells great and can look delicious but be warned – the main ingredient is callos, or tripe.

 
The rest of the world does not understand the reverence with which Spaniards treat their ham. Jamón Ibérico (cured Iberian ham) comes from black hoofed Iberian pigs that are fed exclusively on acorns. You can see ham legs hanging in lots of bars around Spain, and – believe it or not – a common Christmas bonus given out in companies is a whole ham leg.
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The rest of the world does not understand the reverence with which Spaniards treat their ham. Jamón Ibérico (cured Iberian ham) comes from black hoofed Iberian pigs that are fed exclusively on acorns. You can see ham legs hanging in lots of bars around Spain, and – believe it or not – a common Christmas bonus given out in companies is a whole ham leg.
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Jamón Ibérico

The rest of the world does not understand the reverence with which Spaniards treat their ham. Jamón Ibérico (cured Iberian ham) comes from black hoofed Iberian pigs that are fed exclusively on acorns. You can see ham legs hanging in lots of bars around Spain, and – believe it or not – a common Christmas bonus given out in companies is a whole ham leg.

 
Roast suckling pig is a speciality in some regions of Spain, as well as at Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Even the most confirmed carnivore might get a bit of a shock when confronted with an entire little piglet on their plate.
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Roast suckling pig is a speciality in some regions of Spain, as well as at Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Even the most confirmed carnivore might get a bit of a shock when confronted with an entire little piglet on their plate.
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Roast Suckling Pig

Roast suckling pig is a speciality in some regions of Spain, as well as at Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Even the most confirmed carnivore might get a bit of a shock when confronted with an entire little piglet on their plate.

 
Cold tomato soup might take a bit of getting used to, but it is a great summer dish to cool you down on a roasting hot day. The dish originates in Andalusia, southern Spain and is made from tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and garlic.
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Cold tomato soup might take a bit of getting used to, but it is a great summer dish to cool you down on a roasting hot day. The dish originates in Andalusia, southern Spain and is made from tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and garlic.
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Gazpacho

Cold tomato soup might take a bit of getting used to, but it is a great summer dish to cool you down on a roasting hot day. The dish originates in Andalusia, southern Spain and is made from tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and garlic.

 
Pigs ears are a delicacy, and are especially common in Madrid. Brave foodies might want to give them a try next time they visit the Spanish capital.
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Pigs ears are a delicacy, and are especially common in Madrid. Brave foodies might want to give them a try next time they visit the Spanish capital.
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Oreja a la Plancha

Pigs ears are a delicacy, and are especially common in Madrid. Brave foodies might want to give them a try next time they visit the Spanish capital.

 
In other places they are sprinkled with cinnamon and doused in all kinds of extra flavourings, but in Spain, simplicity is key when it comes to churros. The deep-fried dough treats are served plain with a cup of thick hot chocolate for dipping.
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In other places they are sprinkled with cinnamon and doused in all kinds of extra flavourings, but in Spain, simplicity is key when it comes to churros. The deep-fried dough treats are served plain with a cup of thick hot chocolate for dipping.
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Churros

In other places they are sprinkled with cinnamon and doused in all kinds of extra flavourings, but in Spain, simplicity is key when it comes to churros. The deep-fried dough treats are served plain with a cup of thick hot chocolate for dipping.

 
Carbs on carbs might not seem like such a wise decision, but a very common baguette filling in Spain is tortilla de patatas, or potato omelette. While it may sound a bit strange, it’s delicious and a good – if not the healthiest – veggie option. And you can always add a few slices of tomato to get one of your five-a-day.
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Carbs on carbs might not seem like such a wise decision, but a very common baguette filling in Spain is tortilla de patatas, or potato omelette. While it may sound a bit strange, it’s delicious and a good – if not the healthiest – veggie option. And you can always add a few slices of tomato to get one of your five-a-day.
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Bocadillo de Tortilla

Carbs on carbs might not seem like such a wise decision, but a very common baguette filling in Spain is tortilla de patatas, or potato omelette. While it may sound a bit strange, it’s delicious and a good – if not the healthiest – veggie option. And you can always add a few slices of tomato to get one of your five-a-day.

 
They might look like ancient dinosaur paws but percebes are a Spanish delicacy. The goose barnacles are prised off rocks on the northern Atlantic coastline by courageous divers, who risk their lives to collect the tiny crustaceans. The difficulty in collecting them makes percebes seriously expensive. They are eaten by sucking out the meat from inside.
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They might look like ancient dinosaur paws but percebes are a Spanish delicacy. The goose barnacles are prised off rocks on the northern Atlantic coastline by courageous divers, who risk their lives to collect the tiny crustaceans. The difficulty in collecting them makes percebes seriously expensive. They are eaten by sucking out the meat from inside.
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Percebes

They might look like ancient dinosaur paws but percebes are a Spanish delicacy. The goose barnacles are prised off rocks on the northern Atlantic coastline by courageous divers, who risk their lives to collect the tiny crustaceans. The difficulty in collecting them makes percebes seriously expensive. They are eaten by sucking out the meat from inside.

 
If you know your Spanish food, you probably know that a tortilla is a Spanish omelette consisting of eggs, potato and sometimes onion. But you could be forgiven for assuming a tortilla was a disc-shaped Mexican wrap…
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If you know your Spanish food, you probably know that a tortilla is a Spanish omelette consisting of eggs, potato and sometimes onion. But you could be forgiven for assuming a tortilla was a disc-shaped Mexican wrap…
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Tortilla

If you know your Spanish food, you probably know that a tortilla is a Spanish omelette consisting of eggs, potato and sometimes onion. But you could be forgiven for assuming a tortilla was a disc-shaped Mexican wrap…

 
Perhaps Spain’s most famous food, for foreigners paella is a dish that can be customised and fiddled around with, but not so for Spaniards. British chef Jamie Oliver discovered to his surprise just how passionate Spaniards are about getting paella right when he dared to add an ingredient that never, ever appears in an authentic Spanish version: chorizo. The act of adding this simple ingredient hit the headlines in Spain for its sheer audacity. Another common misconception about paella is that it’s an evening meal – most Spaniards eat it at lunchtime to give them time to digest the heavy dish.
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Perhaps Spain’s most famous food, for foreigners paella is a dish that can be customised and fiddled around with, but not so for Spaniards. British chef Jamie Oliver discovered to his surprise just how passionate Spaniards are about getting paella right when he dared to add an ingredient that never, ever appears in an authentic Spanish version: chorizo. The act of adding this simple ingredient hit the headlines in Spain for its sheer audacity. Another common misconception about paella is that it’s an evening meal – most Spaniards eat it at lunchtime to give them time to digest the heavy dish.
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Paella

Perhaps Spain’s most famous food, for foreigners paella is a dish that can be customised and fiddled around with, but not so for Spaniards. British chef Jamie Oliver discovered to his surprise just how passionate Spaniards are about getting paella right when he dared to add an ingredient that never, ever appears in an authentic Spanish version: chorizo. The act of adding this simple ingredient hit the headlines in Spain for its sheer audacity. Another common misconception about paella is that it’s an evening meal – most Spaniards eat it at lunchtime to give them time to digest the heavy dish.

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