MADRID – Most rankings are subjective. This is especially true for a ranking based on a questionnaire in which taste plays the leading role. Such is the case with the list compiled by Taste Atlas, the “encyclopedia of tastes”. Let´s see how Spanish cuisine fairs.
Taste Atlas categorises more than 10,000 foods, dishes and drinks from around the world and asked the public what they consider to be the best cuisine. Ask an average Spaniard and they will certainly answer Spanish cuisine. And if you ask further, you will almost certainly hear that the cuisine of his region or province is the best. Yet, according to this ranking, Spanish cuisine was beaten by two other countries. However, what is striking is that Mediterranean cuisine dominates the top three.
Italian cuisine at 1
It is not very surprising that Italian cuisine has been chosen as the best in the world at number 1 of the Taste Atlas. That cuisine received 4.72 points out of 5. Parmigiano Reggiano, Tuscan prosciutto and ‘nduja stand out among the Italian dishes and foods most appreciated by Taste Atlas users. The latter is a chilli-spiced cured salami from the south of the country with a pate-like texture that goes perfectly with grilled meat or fish or added to pasta sauces.
After Italian cuisine, Greek cuisine follows close behind with 4.69 out of 5. Many dishes also find their basis in Mediterranean cuisine, but Eastern influences are much greater here. Think of dishes like kalamata, fystiki aeginas or rodanika. The first is an olive oil from Messinia and the Peloponnese, the second is pistachios from the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf, and the third is a peach.
Spanish cuisine is at number three. We can live with that! And which dish ranks first as the most appreciated? That is the 100% Iberian ham from the black pigs that feed on acorns and herbs. Manchego cheese and the famous espeto de sardinas are also very successful. The fish skewers are mainly eaten in Malaga, accompanied by a tinto de veranos.
Best restaurants per country
The Taste Atlas also ranked the best restaurants in each country in this overview. In Spain they are Del Oso in Areños (Cantabria), Las Termas in Astorga (León), Arrocería Maribel in El Palmar (València) and A Horta d’Obradorio in Santiago de Compostela. That variety shows you can eat well in all corners of the country, from north to south and from east to west.
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Spain is followed by Japanese, Indian and Mexican cuisines. The top 10 cuisines worldwide are rounded off by Turkish, American, French and Peruvian food. The French will no doubt disagree that their cuisine has been beaten to “haute cuisine” by the not-so-subtle American kitchen.
What are the best traditional dishes?
The Taste Atlas also lists the best traditional dishes per country. At 1 is karé, the Japanese-style curry that has been popular in the country since the Meiji era. That was the period when Japan started to open up to the West. Back then, the dish was only something for the rich. Today, people from all walks of life can feast on it.
The second most appreciated traditional dish on the list comes from Brazil. It is worth trying the picanha, the type of beef used to prepare the churrasco that is also so famous in Argentina and Uruguay.
For the bronze medal, we stay closer to home, namely neighbouring Portugal. Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato has been chosen as the tastiest dish here. These are clams with a sauce based on olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and fresh coriander.
Further down the list, after passing the Chinese guotie, the Peruvian ceviche, the Iranian ghormeh sabzi, or, why not, an Italian pizza margarita, we arrive at the Spanish garlic prawns, gambas al ajillo. This is the first dish on the list of the best traditional dishes in the world. Then follows another dish with prawns: gambas a la plancha.