Many Americans think that Spanish food is similar to Mexican food. They are not similar in any way. The majority of Spanish food is not spicy. Spanish food refers to the food of Spain. Just because a country speaks Spanish doesn’t mean it serves Spanish food. In Mexico, they serve Mexican food. In Columbia they serve Columbian food. They speak Spanish in both countries and many others. And, in Spain, they actually speak Castillano, and 3 other languages!
Spain is in Europe and the food of Spain is European. At times some of it is similar to German food. Many Spaniards enjoy German sausages as Spain has a wide variety of sausages. Both countries also share a love for ham. Sometimes the food is similar to French food. Both countries enjoy a wide variety of cheeses and stews. Spaniards have a fondness for potatoes like their Irish friends. I am sure there are many other similarities to other European countries.
There are only two foods that I can think of that are spicy in Spain. One would be Patatas Bravas, which are French fries cut very thick and fried and served with a spicy sauce. Another food that would be spicy would be a Piquillo pepper that is sometimes grilled with salt. Some of those Piquillo peppers are spicy, and some are quite mild. I never could find any spicy enough for my tastes!
Most of the Spanish food is cooked with olive oil and lots of garlic. Spaniards love to eat lentils, stews, tortilla (similar to a potato omelet) and plenty of fish and ham. Spain was at one time the third largest consumer of fish and seafood. I am not sure if they still hold this rank.
Spaniards are also known for their tapas. Tapas are a light snack-type food eaten with a beer in the evenings. The name is said to come from men eating olives and nuts with their beers. They would cover (tapar) the beer with a lid and put their nuts and olives on top.
One of my most enjoyable times in Spain was going to the center of Madrid to the cuevas -some restaurants under the Plaza Mayor-for tapas. My favorite tapa was a mushroom stuffed with lemon, garlic and chorizo (type of dried sausage) and grilled. In Mexico, chorizo is eaten as well, however, the chorizo in Mexico is spicy. The chorizo in Spain is not spicy.
So, if you are going to Spain and think you will be eating spicy food, you better get your taste buds ready for something much different. Expect great bread, lots of garlic, fabulous wine, wonderful coffee, and most importantly slow meals with enjoyable conversation. Also, remember that Spain is divided into regions and every region has their own specialties and some even have their own language!