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Costa Blanca Food: Explore Like a Gastronomer

6th October 2023

Prawns cooking in a pan
Spain owes its national dish, paella, to our home region. Costa Blanca’s connection to the sea – and the ancient trade routes it opened – brought the saffron and prawns that make this humble rice dish such a powerful and delicious reminder of what it is to be Spanish.

Spain’s gateways to Africa, Asia and Europe influenced its food over centuries, and all of these influences can still be tasted in the food of Costa Blanca. It’s rich, varied and oh so delicious. It goes deeper than paella, way beyond churros – and there’s more on offer than just tapas!

More than tapas

Sure, tapas are fantastic. In fact, we’ve been sampling and reporting on the best tapas in Torrevieja for years! It’s great to taste lots of things all at once, and get some idea for the stuff you like – but it can be overwhelming to have so much choice. And often, you just get the greatest hits, not the hidden gems or foods of acquired taste.

Tapas are at once a party trick and a safe bet: fun and familiar every now and then, but you’re not going to want to see them again for a while. Especially if you’re an adventurous eater.

Thankfully, Costa Blanca offers a whole world of exciting, satisfyingly rich meals beyond the free-for-all of tapas.

The true heart of Costa Blanca’s cuisine lies in simplicity and fresh ingredients – not fussy complexity. Wholesome, big and satisfying, Costa Blanca’s food is a product of both the environment and blended cultures over centuries of history.

What do locals eat?

So, what’s on the daily menu for locals? Well, if you want to explore food in Torrevieja and around Costa Blanca, you should know that it revolves around whatever’s abundant in the region at the time. That can include snails or rabbit. And the sprawling coastlines mean that fish and seafood are major staples – so your gastronomical adventure is likely to be fishy!

Grilled sardines and steamed potatoes make a simple, cheap and delicious lunch, and the fish eaten in Torrevieja is usually caught the same day.

Rice dishes – like paella – are massive in Costa Blanca’s cuisine, but there’s a million ways to eat rice beyond paella. It can be sticky, soupy, creamy, crunchy or steamy. It can be mixed with seafood, squid ink, chicken, rabbit, vegetables, nothing… it goes on, but you get the idea; people here think rice is nice.

La pericana is another typical Costa Blanca dish, made with dried peppers, garlic, olive oil and cod, accompanied by a slice of bread with aioli. Then there are all the tomato dishes, potato dishes – these are staples, too.

And let’s not forget the sweet treats! Turrón de jijona is an almond and honey nougat, usually associated with Christmas (but good all year round). Pastel de boniato, a kind of sweet potato pie, is a beloved homestyle dessert flavoured with cinnamon.

Normally, during the day, food is pretty much what you’d expect. Toast, cereals, sandwiches – but dinner time is an event, every night. Spanish dinners can go on for hours, where families and friends connect with lots of food, wine, and good times.

The coastal influence on the cuisine found in Valencia and Alicante

The Mediterranean Sea has deeply influenced the cuisines in the cities of Valencia and Alicante. It’s not just the fish, either – it’s the old trade routes that brought rice, saffron, paprika and spices from Asia and Africa. By blending these international delicacies with locally occurring foods, the Costa Blanca developed a very pronounced vocabulary of colourful, vividly flavoured foods that has endured the test of time.

But at the heart of it all, seafood reigns supreme. And nowhere is it more noticeable than in Torrevieja.

Torrevieja’s role in fish and seafood

Ah, Torrevieja. We’ve got a special relationship with fish and seafood here.

Torrevieja became a global player in the 1900s as a fishing village. The export market soared, until fish stocks became depleted and strict controls came into play before WWII. This effectively brought the fishing trade to a halt for decades.

Learn more about Torrevieja’s history

But this period of inactivity had a bright side: it led to fish stocks becoming replenished after WWII, leaving plenty for locals and visitors to enjoy (albeit with a more responsible outlook on sustainability).

And so today, we’re a seafood lover’s paradise. Even if you’re not a fan or you don’t eat animals, there’s no shortage of deliciousness outside of seafood – and there are vegan options, too.

Torrevieja makes a great base for exploring Costa Blanca through your stomach. Check out our guides on travelling to nearby areas by hire car and finding the best local produce in Torrevieja – and if you can’t wait until you get here, try making some local Torrevieja recipes at home!

Book Your Holiday Apartment at Los Locos Beach

Looking for a place to sleep off those big, sumptuous meals? Book your stay in one of our holiday apartments in Torrevieja, and enjoy comfortable beachside accommodation when you come to explore all the deliciousness that Costa Blanca has to offer.

Author: Alex

Alex is one of LosLocosBeach.com's resident writers, posting on our blog about Torrevieja and the surrounding Costa Blanca area.

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