Weird Foods You Can Eat In Spain
There are tons of foods that one can find no matter where they go in the world. But there is nothing like having your favorite dish cooked by a person who grew up seeing it made. While many different recipes transcend cultural borders, there are some things people may not be able to wrap their minds around.
Just like any other country, Spain has main dishes that are either unique to its culture and/or unique to the country itself. Here is a list of the weirdest foods you can get in the European country’s capital city of Madrid:
1. Callos a la Madrileña – Madrid-Style Tripe Stew
For those who wish to know right away, tripe is the name given to the first or second stomach of a cow used as food. Growing up with a Mexican mother, I was no stranger to having it as an occasional dish during family dinners.
While the Mexican culture would simply fry it and get it on the plate, the Spanish are little fancier when it comes to their food. Tripe is served in Madrid with chickpeas, chorizo, and blood sausage.
The dish is consumed in greater amounts during the winter months. You can try to get specialty Callos at Taberna La Bola in the capital city, located at Calle de la Bola, 5. If you have no time to sit down and just want a small bowl, head over to Bodegas Ricla (Calle Cuchilleros, 6).
2. Oreja a la Plancha – Grilled Pig Ear
I, personally, do not find it surprising that the people of Madrid enjoy the occasional pig’s ear. As a child, I often went to cookouts where the most sought after pieces were the ears. Again, I have my half-Mexican heritage to thank for that.
While growing up, you may have heard other people say things like “Why would you ever eat something meant for your dogs?” I can say after tasting them myself on their behalf: because they are delicious.
Madrid does it a little differently than most. The pig’s ears are chopped and grilled to a crisp texture, then served with bravas sauce and a nice beer. Try a bit at Casa Toni (Calle de la Cruz, 140), or if you prefer a modern spin on the dish, head over to StreetXO (Calle de Serrano, 52) for some pig ear dumplings.
3. Caracoles – Snails
I have never been one to have a hankering for snails, but I have a handful of friends that wouldn’t mind popping a few of those critters after they are decently cooked. Most of us, of course, are familiar with the French version known as escargot.
Snails are just as popular in the city of Madrid as they are in the country of France. They’re especially popular among regular visitors to the Rastro Flea Market. If you’re looking for a place that specializes in snails, head to Los Caracoles on Calle de Toledo, 106.
4. Zarajos – Deep-fried Braided Lamb Intestines
I already know that just looking at the name made your eyes narrow in doubt. Sure, the food itself sounds pretty funky, considering the part of the animal it’s from. But as with all foods sold regularly, great care is taken with the ingredients to clean them and make them edible.
The lamb intestines are first braided around wooden sticks and then fried till crispy. It takes a seasoned cooker of intestines to know when to pull them from the fire. If you pull them out a little too early, you be slamming black sangria to cover another flavor.
If the dish sounds interesting to you and you’re in the area, head over to Casa Toni and have some Zarajos with a side of grilled pig ear.
5. Percebes – Gooseneck Barnacles
Referring to the shape of a goose’s neck, they are collected by fishermen in Galacia, earning their price tag of 70€ per pound. While Madrid has plenty of odd foods, gooseneck barnacles are still weird by the city’s standards.
They are typically served with an albariño wine. If the odd-sounding dish interests you and you’re willing to try anything, head over to Marisqueria Perlora (Calle Magdalena, 40)
6. Criadillas – Bull Testicles
There are plenty of places of markets in Madrid where you can have a go at this eccentric dish. Often sold alongside sheep brains and pig hearts, there is only one restaurant where they are served. Looking to get a taste? Then go over to Tabernicola (Calle de Buen Suceso).
7. Ortiguillas Fritas – Fried Sea Anemone
Until now, I could not fathom these weird little specimens edible in the slightest. But deep fried in the right batter, some might say they resemble the croquettes that Spain is famous for.
If you are looking for a taste, visit La Taberna Sanlucar in Madrid.