Why is food the best Spanish topic for beginners?

The reasons are numerous.

Food and Cross Cultural Communication

It may seem obvious, but everybody eats and most people love eating. We can see from the work of the late Anthony Bourdain the ability food has to bring people together. This is something you must take advantage of when learning any language, especially Spanish.

Although many Spanish speaking countries flaunt interesting and intricate cuisine, Spain definitely talks about theirs the most. It is a big source of pride within Spanish culture.

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Spanish People are Obsessed With Food!

Spaniards are always quick to state their opinions on the best typical Spanish food. Beginner and intermediate conversation levels have limited subject matter and food is one of the most common subjects.

Also, Spanish people spend a lot of time at the table; it is a great opportunity for conversation practice. Specific Spanish recipes vary from region to region and knowing a few intricacies can really impress!

If you want to impress even more, Spanish restaurant vocabulary is a must. Check out the restaurant section of these Speechling flashcards to brush up on great phrases to use at dinner; the built in audio will vastly improve your pronunciation.

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Hands-on Learning

We humble humans have a faulty memory sometimes (or a lot of the time). Many people find that they remember things better if they have some other kind of media besides a book with a list of vocabulary in front of them.

Even just holding the corresponding object in your hand while you learn a Spanish vocabulary word could vastly increase your retention. Playing games, sports, and cooking are all forms of hands-on learning that will help you retain new vocabulary.

Vamos a cocinar!

Let's cook! Grab a friend or go on a solo mission to learn Spanish and about one of the most important parts of Spanish culture. I will introduce you to the dish, then click the "full Spanish recipe" link for a step-by-step guide in Spanish:

Salmorejo

Salmorejo Cordobés

Full Spanish recipe

This is a super easy dish to cook from Córdoba. Once the weather warms up, you will find this dish on fixed menus all over Spain. It is the secret cousin of Gazpacho and just as refreshing and healthy.

English Spanish
2lbs. Tomato Tomate
1 clove Garlic Diente de ajo
200g Old (hard) bread Pan duro
1/2 Cup Olive Oil Aceite de oliva
Salt to taste Sal al gusto

After cleaning and finely cutting the tomatoes you must take out (retirar) the chucks of peel by passing them through a colander. After that you basically put all the ingredients in a blender (la batidora) and add additional toppings like jamón and hard-boiled egg if desired. My personal tip: use good olive oil.

¡Qué buena pinta tiene! - It looks delicious!

¡Qué rico! - How delicious!

Es tu plato estrella - It´s your speciality


Fabada Asturiana

Fabada Asturiana

Full Spanish recipe

The key to this classic mountain stew is to find good quality sausages and to take your time. Asturias is a beautiful region in the north of Spain famous for its distinct cuisine and this is the most famous dish.

English Spanish
1 pound Fava Beans Fabes
1/2 pound Cured Bacon Panceta
2 Blood Sausage Morcilla
2 Spicy Sausage Chorizo
1 head of Garlic Cabeza de ajo
1 Onion Cebolla

After soaking the fava beans overnight put everything into a large pot and fill with water an inch above the ingredients. Cover the pot and stew (cocer) until the beans are tender and fall apart in your mouth. My personal tip: add one or two bay leaves (laurel) when you start cooking.

Quiero picar algo - I want to eat a little something

La fabada es pesada - The fabada is a heavy food

Es canela en rama - It's the best quality


Arroz Negro

Arroz Negro Valenciano

Full Spanish recipe

While the Spanish Paella has made a name for itself in America, many people do not know that there are numerous rice dishes famous in Spain. Valencia is the capital of said specialties and a place with great seafood in general. This is a must-try for all seafood lovers.

English Spanish
1lb Rice Arroz
3.5 cups Fish Broth Caldo de Pescado
3 small packages of Squid Ink Tinta de Calamar
1lb Squid or Cuttlefish Calamar o Sepia
2 cloves of Garlic Dientes de Ajo
1/2cup Tomato Tomate
A few strands of Saffron Hebras de Azafrán
1/3 cup Olive Oil Aceite de Oliva
1/2 teaspoon Paprika Pimentón

First, you heat up (calentar) the broth and squid ink. While this is heating up, lightly fry the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Then add the tomato, finely cut, without its peel. After that, add the sepia and cook until its texture hardens up on the outside.

The rice, saffron, and paprika is added just before the broth and ink mix, so that it toasts a bit in the hot pan before the liquid is added. Add the broth and cook for 15 minutes, the rice should not be overcooked and still be slightly hard.

Estoy lleno(a) - I am full

Tengo empacho - I have a stomach ache

Me puse ciego de Arroz Negro Valenciano - I stuffed myself with Valencian black rice


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Now you know about typical Spanish food...

...and can talk about it with locals by using the vocabulary and expressions above.

By cooking along with the full Spanish recipes in this article you are sure to not only learn more, but retain the information you learn. Speaking languages is difficult and you must attack it from all angles. What could be better than learning and eating delicious food?