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Global cravings for Spanish cuisine

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An image of Jose Pizzaro’s packed London restaurant.
Credit: josepizarochef/
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Ever wondered which Spanish dishes captivate taste buds worldwide?

A recent report from Onda Cero reveals how Spain’s vibrant gastronomy thrives globally, from London’s bustling streets to the skyscrapers of Dubai and even further into the heart of China.

Spanish feast in the east

Alejandro Sanchez, a chef from Valencia, has made waves with his Beijing restaurant, Niajo, and plans to continue his culinary success in Shanghai.

His menu is a testament to Spanish diversity, and features over seventy dishes including Iberian ham and the much-loved Valencian paella, although it is served without snails to cater to local tastes.

Alejandro’s knack for cooking rice to perfection has introduced the Chinese to a new standard of this staple ingredient.

However, he notes a cultural aversion to overly salty foods, recalling an incident where ‘there were two ladies who called the police because the lentils were a little salty’, a situation prompted by the addition of acorn-fed Iberian chorizo.

Popular in London

In London, Jose Pizarro has been instrumental in popularising Spanish cuisine for 25 years, with Londoners developing a fondness for croquettes, octopus, and rice dishes.

Pizarro observes, ‘Spanish cuisine in London is very fashionable, they are discovering it and enjoying it a lot.’

Despite the enthusiasm, his attempts to introduce Madrid tripe have been met with resistance, underscoring a selective appreciation of Spanish flavours among his English clientele.

Dubai’s Spanish exports

Further afield, Daniel Perez brings the essence of Spanish dining to the deserts of Dubai with Lola Taberna, reminiscent of a Cordoba patio. The menu, rich with Mediterranean influence, features favourites like rice, shrimp, bravas, and octopus.

The extreme heat of Dubai necessitates a menu adaptable to the climate, hence the inclusion of gazpachos among other refreshing choices to entice the palate.

Through the dedication of chefs like Sanchez, Pizarro, and Perez, Spanish cuisine continues to charm and adapt, proving its global appeal across diverse cultures.

The stories of these culinary ambassadors illustrate not just the export of Spain’s gastronomic heritage but also the universal language of good food.

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