This spring break, I was lucky enough to travel to Madrid and Barcelona. This was my first time in Spain, and I was so excited to take on my biggest culinary challenge yet: eating every single Spanish delicacy in one short week. After stuffing my face for seven days straight, I have compiled the Spanish food and experiences that truly made my trip. Here is my crash course on Spanish cuisine— aka the stuff you absolutely have to try if you're having an #abroad #moment (aka un momento en el extranjero). Time to eat your way through Spain!

1.) Tapas


cyclonebill on Flickr

Tapas are the first thing that comes to anyone's mind when talking about Spanish food, and that is for good reason. Tapas are small, savory dishes traditionally used to keep people from drinking on an empty stomach. I was expecting the tapas to be top-notch in their country of origin, and I was NOT disappointed. From empanadas, to tortilla de patatas, to camarones envueltos, tapas are the most delicious way to enjoy a meal (and a drink or two)!

2.) Paella


masolino on Flickr

Another iconic figurehead of Spanish cuisine, paella is a dish of rice cooked in a skillet with seafood, meat, and vegetables. When you eat paella, the flavors literally explode in your mouth— salty, spicy and absolutely decadent. La Cuina de Laietana in Barcelona brings a giant skillet in a basket, perfect for sharing (or for finishing on your own. Treat yo self.)

3.) Café & Croissants

Croissant and Espresso at Mason La Patis

veer66 on Flickr

Yes, croissants are a French pastry. But that did not stop me from eating them in Spain...every day...twice a day. Along with a rich, delicious Spanish coffee, these flaky, buttery pastries make a perfect breakfast or an afternoon snack pre-siesta. Try one con chocolate or con cereales.  

4.) Marisco

La Boqueria - Seafood

Ania Mendrek on Flickr

Spain has over 3000 miles of coastline, and this means that the seafood is fresher than any I have ever seen. Clams, mussels, prawns, cod, monkfish, bream, octopus...every type imaginable is crisp and caught that day. I went from seeing an endless spread of fresh catches in the daytime marketplaces (Mercado de La Boqueria in Barcelona and Mercado de San Miguel in places to sample and explore) to enjoying incredible salt-grilled prawns that night. 

5.) Jamón y Queso

Jamón y queso.

pablopaganppl on Flickr

Ham & Cheese was a staple at each and every meal that I ate in Spain. From a slice of manchego with breakfast to a Serrano ham sandwich at lunch, restaurants serve the finest forms of ham and cheese and aren't afraid to get creative. The smashed huevos con Iberia at Alsur Cafe in Barcelona were a highlight meal of mine, and you can even check out an entire Museum of Ham in Madrid.

6.) Churros

What would this article be without churros? Instead of froyo places or cupcake shops, the dessert spot in Spain is churrerias, found on every corner. Famous establishment Chocolateria San Ginés in Madrid serves them with creamy, warm chocolate for dipping. The smell in a churreria alone is enough to make your mouth water. 

So after my week in Spain, not only do I speak excellent Spanish now - shoutout Google Translate - but I was lucky enough to get an amazing taste of a diverse, flavorful culinary scene. If you are strapped for time in Barcelona or Madrid, make sure you get to sample and see everything possible in these spectacular cities. iViva España!