The problem with restaurants in Spain? You’re overwhelmed with culinary choices. Tapas, pinchos, afternoon-long paella lunches, bites at a vermuteria . . . the options are endless and, let’s face it: we only have so much stomach real estate. What to eat when in Spain? And in what order?
In most bars, you’ll spot a gilda: a pickled guindilla pepper, a salty anchovy, and olive on a toothpick. This tasty treat is originally from Pais Vasco (the Basque country) but is also a staple in many bars with displays of ready-made dishes. I spot them often in Barcelona and ate many when in Andalucia.
The gilda is a must-eat pincho when in Spain because it functions similarly to an aperitif: its mixture of salty and pickled flavors wake up your taste buds, and the vinegar cleanses your palate after such strong flavors so that you’re ready for whatever delicious bite you order next. The flavors are perfect with house-made vermouth, a drink that has recently experienced a revival, and the gilda is also a perfect complement to an ice cold Spanish beer.
Ordering a gilda when you enter a bar doesn’t just connect you with a culinary tradition: it lets your new bartender friend know that you’re not messing around. You, that tourist from somewhere English speaking? You’re no guiri. You, my friend, have done your research. You’re here for the authentic experience (even though we can probably agree that that word has lost a little meaning over these last few years). You’re here, you’re ready for the real, and you’re not afraid of a little salty seafood. Channel your inner Anthony Bourdain and your desire to try new foods in new places. Instagram it later because you’re so legit. Hashtag it #realSpanishfood. You, my friend, are tasting what Spanish dreams are made of. At the least, you’re starting off your meal on the right pie.