Beer. The world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the third-most popular drink overall (after water and tea). The Spaniards' relationship with beer ('cerveza' en español) got off to a rocky start when Charles V arrived from Flanders in 1516 to rule and introduced his favourite tipple to the country. They hated him and his beer. Nowadays, Spain is Europe's fourth-largest producer of beer and in sultry Andalucía they drink it with great enthusiasm, icy cold.
Did you know that Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world? Accordingly to worldatlas.com, Spain produces 5,276,899 metric tons of olive annually and about 75% of the total olive production is concentrated around the Andalusian region. Yup. We have a lot of olive trees here, and the sight of their straight lines of twisted trunks marching across the golden hillsides of southern Spain have inspired many an artist. Van Gogh said that the "rustle of the olive grove has something very secret in it, and immensely old. It is too beautiful for us to dare to paint it or to be able to imagine it." A symbol of wisdom and peace, both beautiful and beneficial to health, the olive tree is an intrinsic ingredient of life in Andalucía.
The peppered history of Andalucía and its peoples has occasioned a fusion of ingredients and cooking methods. The arrival of the Moors from Arabia and North Africa proved the greatest influence on food, but they didn't only bring with them aromatic spices and herbs. They also introduced irrigation systems (the 'huertas') to the arid lands of the south. Andalusian cuisine remains fresh and simple, with leanings towards a peasant's diet due to historical periods of abject poverty in Spain. Staples were soups, paellas and rich stews cooked for great lengths of time on 'stove-tops', called poyos. The poyos and the poverty may be long gone, but the dishes remain, and these are a few you can sample during your visit to Andalucía: