It is said that the gastronomy in Cadiz is influenced by the wines described above and the fish that live off its shores. Sea bass, cod, plaice and tuna can be found in abundance as well as shrimp, lobster, sea-snails and the famous prawns from Sanlúcar. As well as the plentiful seafood, Cadiz also produces some exquisite traditional cheeses and excellent meats in the towns and villages of the Cadiz mountains.
While in Cadiz, experiencing tapas is a must as they are a great complement to Cadiz’s famous wines. Tapas are more than just small portions of food. The word means literally a lid, and the term was thought to have come from the habit of having a few nibbles with a drink and the necessity of placing a saucer or tapa on top of a glass to keep the flies out. In the old days tapas were served free with a drink; this happens only occasionally today.
Eating one or two tapas with a glass of sherry or wine will enhance the taste experience and also slow down the effect of the alcohol. You can eat tapas at just one bar, but it is more customary and fun to move from bar to bar sampling their various specialities. Each tapa is really no more than a bite, so you can either sample two or three before dinner, or you can make a meal of them by ordering larger portions, called raciones. Tapas are generally eaten standing at the bar rather than sitting at a table and the list is generally displayed on a blackboard.
As seafood is a very important part of Cadiz’s cuisine, there is much to enjoy and savour here, from Mojama (dried tuna) of Barbate to the Frito Gaditano (fried fish Cadiz style). The variety of seafood dishes available in Cadiz is enormous. In 1891, in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Isaac Peral was offered a menu of 21 different courses of fish and seafood all prepared in traditional ways.
On the tables you can find plates of king
prawns from Sanlúcar, mantis prawns, white bay prawns,
shrimps, oysters, razor clams, whelks, sea snails, crab claws,
sea anemones and clams as well as more unusual fish such as gilt
head bream, tooth-edged bream, Herrera, two branded sea bream
and the more common but nevertheless delicious mackerel, sea bream,
tuna, sole, red mullet, dog fish, fresh anchovies and sea bass
among many others, making a more than comprehensive list of veritable
sea delights. Of course these exquisite fish can be simply cooked
and eaten with a touch of garlic and seasoning, but in Cadiz,
you can find provincial dishes such as spaghetti with mackerel,
potato and squid stew, bream cooked Rota style, fried shrimp omelette,
tuna and onion stew, fish soup - Cadillo de Perro - and marinated
dog fish known as Bienmesable. As with tapas all these dishes
are magnificently complemented with a glass of Cadiz’s fine
wine such as manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, sherry
from El Puerto de Santa Maria or Jerez or a glass of wine from