The mild Mediterranean climate is ideal and one thing is certain about Andalucia, there is no shortage of primary foods. Olive Oil is the main condiment and the variety between grades and colours is substantial.
Historically, the cuisine has evolved from the Arab cuisine of Al-Andalus and it can be primarily divided into two clearly defined areas: the coastal cuisine and the inland cuisine (cocina serrana, meaning of the mountaineous regions). In addition, each local area has its own recipes based on products which used to be naturally available locally. For example, the three most common elements in Málaga are gaspachos, muscatel grapes and fish.
Although "Paella" is widely known as an Andalusian dish, in reality it is not so for its origins are in Valencia, whereas "Gaspacho" is in fact the most famous of Andalusian plates. It is a most refreshing cold soup made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. It is easy to prepare, economical and very nourishing. Not all "Gaspachos" are the same and they may vary from region to region depending on the local natural products, such as the Málaga "ajoblanco", which is made with broad beans and almonds.
The most famous Granada dishes are the tortilla de Sacromonte and broad beans Granadine. The generous use of spices is a clear indication of the Arab origin of the Granada cuisine and it is very tasty indeed.
Sevilla and Jerez are reknowned for their "tapas", which offer the widest selection of very appetising dishes in small portions, so one can try a bit of everything that appeals.
The by-products are also important, for instance over 86,000 hectares of vineyards have contributed to the production of excellent wines of different types and varieties, most of these are excellent wines and some have become world famous and have even become part of tradition in other countries, such as "Jerez" (Sherry).
Jamon Serrano (ham), salchichón (salami), chorizo (another type of very distinct salami) and many other varieties of by products present a very difficult choice for the lovers of charcuterie.
Although there is a large variety of cheeses in Andalucia, they are all very localised and mostly confined to the areas where they are produced, mostly from goat's or sheep's milk and much less from cow's milk.
Perhaps the Arab origin of Andalusian cuisine can best be evidenced by its "dulces" (sweets) and the extensive use of honey. A number of recipes claim religious origin in convents and monasteries and have symbolic names such as "Cabello de Angel (Angel Hair) or "Suspiro de Monja" (Nun's Sigh) "Huesos de Santo (Saint's Bones).
The freshness of the prime food available is also an invitation for all other types of cuisines to flourish on the Costa del Sol. There is no shortage of restaurants of all types and nationalities, catering for different tastes and even whims.