here are plenty of foods and drinks that I had absolutely never heard of before I visited Valencia for the first time. One of them was horchata, but ever since I’ve taken my first sip, I can’t imagine a life without it. The same goes for paella, can you even become a Valencian citizen if you don’t like paella? I guess the police would come right after you. There’s much more to discover, though. Today I will introduce you to the wonderful world of traditional, Valencian foods and drinks. Are you ready?
Horchata & fartons
Let’s start off with horchata, in case you don’t know what it is. Horchata (orxata in Valencian) is a refreshing, milky drink made from chufas, water, and sugar. Chufas are tiger nuts. These nuts are grown in Alboraya, which is just outside of the city.
A glass of fresh horchata is mostly accompanied by a farton, which is a sweet pastry.
If you’re looking for authentic and traditional horchata, look for horchaterías. Horchatería Daniel is the most famous one in Valencia and you won’t be disappointed by their selection of delicious pastries. Besides that, they even have horchata ice cream! What are you waiting for? Go grab your merienda!
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of paella before, but if you haven’t, go read this article.
The question is: how do you recognize great paella?
If a restaurant serves it at night, you know it’s just for tourists. Paella is a lunch meal so this is a huge sign that it’s probably pre-made, frozen, and reheated. If they offer individual servings too, run as fast as you can.
It should always be served in the pan it was prepared in and most paellas are made for at least two people.
Great paella is made to order, which is why it takes a lot of time. If you don’t make a reservation beforehand, expect to wait at least 30 minutes. But hey, who’s in a rush in Spain?
It’s important that the rice is just cooked, not underdone, and not over. It must have a slight chew. Valencianos will definitely tell you that there’s only one real paella, and that’s Paella Valenciana.
Arroz al Horno
Thanks to the amazing rice fields in the province, there are many tasty Valencian rice dishes. The most popular one is obviously paella, but there’s another sacred dish: Arroz al Horno.
It comes from the southern region of Valencia, you can’t miss out on this!
It’s oven-baked rice with chickpeas, potato, pork, tomato, garlic, and blood sausage.
Every year, there’s a national Arroz al Horno competition in the town of Xativa. It’s clear that the Valencianos take this very seriously, which doesn’t surprise me one bit(e)! ;-)
Seafood lovers, stay seated. Fideuá is, as expected, truly delicious.
Traditionally, this dish is full of fideos (small, vermicelli-type noodles), crayfish, prawns, monkfish, garlic, tomato, paprika, and grated onion. It’s cooked in a large frying pan, just like paella. Its origin comes from Gandia, which is a city in the province of Valencia. I’m not a huge seafood fan, but I really love Fideuá! Whoa! That says enough, right?!
During Fallas, the biggest street festival in Europe, the streets of Valencia smell like Buñuelos. You’ll never hear me complain about that, that’s for sure.
A buñuelo is the typical Fallas or Christmas snack, but you can find it in many other places all year round too.
It’s basically a misshaped doughnut, dusted with powdered sugar or dipped in chocolate.
I love buñuelos, but I don’t like doughnuts, so you should really try it out yourselves to taste the difference!
The reason why I love these little fried treats so much is that it’s very similar to a traditional Dutch snack that I honestly can’t really live without (but here I am, living in Valencia). So, the fact that I can eat a buñuelo warms my heart a little.
You can often find buñuelos at horchaterías as well, dang, you’re gonna have a good day ;-)
Zumo de naranja
If you haven’t tried a fresh zumo de naranja yet, then you probably don’t know that Valencia is the city of oranges (or you just don’t like orange juice, which is fine). Valencian oranges are the most popular ones in the world. Why? Well, they are very sweet and have a unique bright-colored juice that other citrus fruits don't have. Lots of major juice brands use these oranges in their products.
There are many reasons why I think we’re lucky to live here and being surrounded by those beautiful Valencian oranges is one of them. So, why not get yourself a famous glass of zumo de naranja now that you’re here?
One more tip: never ask for arroz con cosas, unless you wanna offend most Valencianos ;-)