Spain’s heritage remains influential in many of its former colonies, as well as in other European countries. Its history has also crossed paths with other influential civilizations, like Middle Eastern. Similarly, Arabian influence is evident in Spain, especially when it comes to cuisine. The spanish-food.org staff further delves into this matter.
It really isn’t possible to speak about Spanish food or the Mediterranean diet without noting the importance of the rich legacy of Al-Andalus gastronomy. Much of the current cuisine of the Iberian country is heir of the Muslim tradition, an empire that occupied up to 70% of the country at some point. This occupation extended from 711 to 1492, the year that Spain was unified and America was discovered.
Al-Andalus gastronomy is much reflected in the mediterranean diet, with some variations of course, such as the consumption of pork. This inheritance is specially marked in Andalusia, where gazpachos and other cold soups are originally from, but this influence is also reflected in other areas such as Alicante (Valencia) where a typical nougat is made, Murcia, Almeria and many more regions.
Another strong proof of Arabian influence in Spain is the practice of smoking a hookah in the country’s key cities. Hookahs are basically water pipes (single- or multi-stemmed) used to smoke tobacco through cooled water. The tobacco or shisha is heated in the bowl at the top of the pipe, and the smoke is filtered through the water in its base.
The practice of smoking hookahs has earned its share of arguments among those who enjoy them. Essentially, for some individuals, hookah isn’t Middle East in origin. Perhaps they have reason to believe that’s the case since some history records show it came from northwestern India. Whatever its origin may be, in modern-day Arab culture, the practice is meant to be enjoyed in a social setting, which is why Spanish residents and tourists alike are sure to find a Barcelona hookah bar while taking pleasure in the city’s amazing sights.
Hookahs were believed to have made its way through Persia (including Pakistan and Afghanistan) and then spread to Egypt and Morocco, where it became known as shisha. Today, people can spend their leisure time with family and friends at a shisha bar in Barcelona while enjoying a plate of delicious tapas.
It’s amazing to see how cultures intersect and influence each other over the years. The shared of history of Spain and the Middle East lives on through cuisine and other practices. Those who want to experience the merging of Arabian and Spanish flavours in Barcelona can check out Ziryab.
(Source: Arab Influence, spanish-food.org)