In Spain, it’s really easy to enjoy the gastronomy. Despite being a small country, the cuisine is very different from one region to another, and you can enjoy everything from exquisite meats in the north to fried fish in the south, or the iconic paella valenciana. And the best part is that Madrid, being the home of thousands of transplants from other regions of Spain, is a small gastronomic mosaic that offers the best of every corner of the country.
But today, we want to talk about food that’s a bit different. Dishes that are part of Madrid’s cuisine but don’t appear in many travel guides. Warning! This post is not for the squeamish
When there is a festival in Madrid, the city fills with carts selling “gallinejas” (gah-yee-NAY-has), lamb tripe fried in its own fat. Unfortunately, many bars specializing in “gallinejas” have disappeared, but there is an old survivor, the bar “Feirduría de Gallinejas Embajadores”. In this small bar, they prepare exquisite gallinejas and all types of offal: “mollejas blancas” or white gizzards, “botones of mesentery”, “chorrillas” or sweetbreads, “tiras” (fried tripe), “chicharrones” or pork rinds, and “canutos” (more fried tripe). Just a tip: the smell when this type of product is fried is a bit unpleasant, so be prepared.
In case you didn’t know, the Spanish love snails or “caracoles” (cah-rah-COH-lays), they are truly devoted to them. There are countless ways to prepare caracoles, but the most popular in Madrid is “caracoles en salsa”, or snails in sauce. And if we’re going to talk about “caracoles”, we have to mention “Casa Amadeo-Los Caracoles”, established almost 80 years ago and iconic in Madrid. People come from all over the city to taste their delicious “caracoles en salsa”. The ingredients in the salsa are a mystery, although we do know they add a little chorizo. On any given Sunday, they might serve more than 50 kg of snails.
Bocadillo de Calamares
A visit to Madrid isn’t complete without a “bocadillo de calamares”, or squid sandwich. The ingredients are simple: rings of fried calamari and bread. It might seem simple, but making a good “bocadillo de calamares” isn’t that easy. You have to use a special flour for frying seafood, the squid has to be fried for just the right amount of time to absorb the right amount of oil, and, of course, the bread has to be crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. Where can you try the best “bocadillo de calamares” in Madrid? “Bar La Campana” is our favourite place in Madrid to enjoy the genuine“bocadillo de calamares”.
Believe it or not, Spaniards eat absolutely every part of the pig (trotters, snout, testicles, etc.), even the blood or “sangre” (SAHN-gray). It sounds like something reserved for vampires, but believe me, it is an exquisite dish. The blood, once it has congealed, is fried and accompanied by onion and white wine. It can also be prepared with tomato sauce. We recommend the restaurant “La Tasquería”, where they prepare a delicious “sangre de cerdo con bacalao” (pig’s blood with cod). Another very popular product in Spain that is made with pig’s blood is “morcilla”, a type of blood sausage.
Callos a la Madrileña
(CAI-yos ah lah mah-dree-LAY-nya) This is another of Madrid’s most typical dishes. Historically, meat was prohibitively expensive for everyday people, so they had no choice but to eat what nobody else wanted: chicken livers, tripe, cow tongue, etc. Looked down on in the past, many of these products are now delicacies worthy of any of Madrid’s finest restaurants. One of these products that became a star dish is “callos” or beef tripe. Madrid style callos have a slightly spicy sauce that includes pieces of chorizo, morcilla, and even pig’s trotters. DELICIOUS!
Oreja de Cerdo
Without a doubt, one of our favorite dishes. There are many ways to prepare “oreja de cerdo” (oh-RAY-ha day THAYR-doh) or pig’s ear, and all of them are delicious. If you’ve never tasted the ear before, the texture might seem strange to you, being that it’s made of cartilage. If this isn’t a problem for you, we encourage you to try it. We recommend trying “oreja de cerdo” at the bar “Las Bravas”, where they prepare a delicious oreja de cerdo with a slightly spicy sauce.
If you want to know more about Spanish gastronomy, reserve our Gastronomic Tapas Tour now, a route through long established taverns and traditional bars where the locals eat. You’ll learn the incredible history of Spanish cuisine, explanations of the dishes and fun facts that will let you discover our gastronomy in a whole new way.