As the third-largest city in Spain, Valencia attracts millions of tourists every year. Its sunny Mediterranean climate and prime beach location on Spain’s eastern coast make it an ideal vacation hotspot. However, exploring the local gastronomy is a must while you’re there. Don’t leave Community Valenciana without trying some typical foods from Valencia! (And yes, there’s more to Valencia than its delicious paella!)
One of the most well-known Spanish dishes on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond, Paella has its roots in Valencia. The wetlands near the region’s Albufera lake are ideal for growing rice, which the Moors brought to Valencia in the 10th-century Paella was originally cooked in giant calderos in the open air near the lake in the 18th century, and it exploded in popularity around the mid-1800s.
Traditional Valencian paella includes chicken, rabbit and local white beans called garrafó—but seafood, vegetarian and “mixed” paella, containing both meat and fish, are also popular. Other typical additions include artichokes, lobster and even snails! And of course, the best paella always has a layer of crispy rice along the bottom.
Paella’s seafood-and-noodles cousin has its origins as a humble fisherman’s dish. Tender, cooked-to-perfection noodles taste spectacular with seafood additions like monkfish, squid, shrimp and more. This is one of the most typical foods from Valencia, and a great option if you don’t want to order paella.
The Valencian town of Gandía is proud to be the birthplace of this tasty dish. Fideuà fans who visit the region in early summer can check out the annual Fideuà cooking contest, a favourite local celebration in Gandía.(About an hour drive from Calpe)
Arròs a Banda
Valencianos sure love their rice, and arròs a banda is one of their all-time favourites. This typical food from Valencia is not to be confused with paella! In fact, this dish originated in nearby Alicante, where fishermen would use their unsold fish to make the stock used in cooking the rice. Curiously enough, the rice and seafood are traditionally served separately in arròs a banda: first comes the fish, then the rice is served as a second course and topped with a dollop of alioli (garlic mayonnaise).