Gastronomy in Castellón is exceptionally rich and varied and has some specific characteristics typical of each area of this Mediterranean Province. The common feature of inland cooking is any kind of meat, while on the coast the main dishes are fish and seafood. All over the Costa del Azahar the most emblematic dish is paella.
Throughout years the traditional January pig-killing in inner Castellón has been the base of the support, and starting from here delicious dishes have been created having rabbit, chicken and fowl as complements. Within the wide range of products coming from the pig-killing, the most important one is without doubt ham, a delicatessen when appropriately cured. It is essential to take into account climatology to prepare ham, and most of our inner province has an ideal climate as it is cold and dry during most of the year. Another essential element in cooking in Castellón, with a wide range of very important products on the coast as well as inland, is varied sausage. Most frequent examples are black sausages - stuffed with onion or rice - white sausages and red sausages.
Another important dish is grilled meat, coming from the lamb and cattle for the most part, which is abundantly bred inland. Classic grilled chops or succulent roast lamb leg "ternasco", are dishes of the first magnitude and necessary at any table through all seasons.
White and Valencian sausages, fried dishes and any kind of stew are the main dishes in most kitchens and you can also taste them at the numerous restaurants widespread throughout the area. Traditional "tombets", made with meat and dressed with mountain snails ( typical and tasty), mushrooms ( in abundance in our pinewoods) and vegetables, are well-known. Stew is especially typical in our province and has many varieties. Sometimes it is derived from the traditional pig-killing which takes place in January, and pork and a number of vegetables can be added. Some other times they can be lighter or even without meat, vegetables being the only dressing.
Rice, vegetables, fish and seafood are the basic items of coastal cooking. It is impossible to think of a celebration of any kind without the well-known paella. "Valencian paella", "seamanlike paella" (with shellfish), "fish-and-meat paella", "arrós a banda" (made with fish broth), "arrós negre" ( named like this because of the squid ink), "vegetable paella", "watery rice", "grilled rice" and "rice with cabbage" are dishes which have rice as the basic element.
Fish and seafood have a basic prestige. Mussels, shrimps, prawns, cuttlefish, squid, sea snails, date mussels, lobster, octopus, small cuttlefish, ... it would be impossible to list the different kinds of seafood that you can taste in Costa del Azahar and the different ways of offering a wide range of dishes based on its taste.
Orange and its different varieties is the most popular fruit as well as apples, cherries, pears, melons, etc. depending on the season. Delicious cherries from Palancia and Espadán are especially known. Both regions are rich in dry farming fruits which are an important part of their economy.
There is a deep pastry-making tradition. The variety of salty cakes is remarkable and different in each town. They are usually stuffed with vegetables, meat or even seafood. Sweet cakes are typical at Easter, August festivals, local festivals, Holy Week and other occasions. Pastry is usually mixed with walnuts, thin vermicelli, sweet potato, cottage cheese and some other varieties. There are as many different kinds of pastry as towns in the province of Castellón, all of them being delicious and proper of each celebration within the year.
The productive orchards and vegetable plots in Castellón, which extends from north to south along the coast, have given cooking a decisive contribution. Different kinds of vegetables are eaten daily, which are the base of a light and natural food known as the Mediterranean diet.
Besides, Castellón is a land of good wines and although in recent years vinetree production has dropped, we still have an excellent fruity wine, aromatic muscatel, anisettes such as absinthe and liquor, made with different combinations and spirits. The most important one is the "Carmelitano" made by the Carmelite Fathers at their wine cellars in Benicasim.