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Glossary of Spanish Food Words

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Word or Term Definition
cáscara rind
cáscaras shells
Cabrales, Queso de a wonderful, blue-streaked cow's-milk cheese, aged in the mountain caves of Asturias and wrapped in tree leaves. It is strong but not bitter, smoother, and less biting than a French Roquefort.
cafe con leche espresso coffee with steamed milk, café au lait
cafe cortado espresso coffee with a dash of steamed milk
cafe solo espresso coffee alone, (no milk)
Cala rocky bay, cove
calabacín,calabacita, zapallito zucchini
calabaza pumpkin, squash
calamar, calamares squid
Calasparra rice a short grain rice gown in the Calasparra region of Murcia in fresh mountain water. Due to slow maturation, the grains of rice are highly absorbent while retaining their integrity, making them a key ingredient in the making of paella. A sub-variety, Bomba rice from Calasparra,was rescued from extinction in the past fifty years and is prized by many chefs as the finest paella rice in Spain.
calcots spring onion (scallion)
caldereta/caldeirada casserole, most often based on lamb or kid (Extremadura) and lobster (Menorca)
caldero heavy iron pot, by association, or a fish and rice dish made in this pot
caldo stock, consomme, clear broth
calentar to heat or warm
cana small serving of draft beer
canela cinnamon
canelones "cannelloni," pasta tubes stuffed with minced meats and bechamel sauce
cangrejo crab
capa layer
caperberries the fruit of the caper bush, which appear after the flowers. They are usually preserved in brine, and are most often served in the same way as olives, as a garnish for salads, or in a martini.
capers Capers are the small flowers of the caper bush, preserved in brine or sometimes just salt. They have a piquant flavor and are used sparingly in dressings and garnishes. The flavor is most present in the smaller capers - non pareille. Rinse well before use.
caracol snail
carne meat
carne de salchicha sausage meat
carne picada minced meat
casa de comida restaurant
casqueria variety meats, offal
castaño chestnut
cava a type of quality Spanish sparkling white wine produced by the bottle fermentation method, Methode Champenoise. Like French Champagne, it is protected by Denomination of Origin.
Cayenne pepper Made from drying and grinding the small orange-red fruits of several pungent species of the bell pepper family, native to the Cayenne region of French Guyana in northern South America. Due to its heat, it should be used sparingly. An ingredient in picante pimentón de la Vera.
cazón dogfish, shark
cazo saucepan, pan
cazuelas Terra cotta earthenware dishes which are glazed on the inside and normally unfinished on the outside. They are the most common pieces of Spanish cooking equipment. The cazuela is favored because it heats evenly and it retains heat long after the dish has been removed from the stove. These dishes, usually wide and shallow, come in individual as well as casserole sizes. If earthenware dishes are to be used on top of the stove, as they frequently are in Spain, they should first be cured in water to prevent cracking. An alternative is to place a metal mesh burner cover over the flame to better distribute the heat.
cebollín, cebolla de verdeo, chalote, chalota scallion (young onion)
cebolla onion
cebolleta shallot
cecina dry-cured beef, typical of Castilla-León, where it is salted, smoked, and cured. As with dry cured jamón serrano, cecina is served very thinly sliced.
cena supper, evening meal served later in the evening, after tapas
cepillar brush
cerdo pork
cerdo picado minced pork
cerveceria beer bar
champiñones mushrooms
chilindrón sauce of tomato, pepper, onion, and ham, most commonly applied to chicken and lamb, typical of Aragon
chipirones baby squid
chipirones en su tinta baby squid cooked in their own ink
chiringuito beach bar/shack
chive (hierba) chive (herb)
chocolate a la taza rich dark chocolate drink thickened with a slight amount of rice flour.
chocos small cuttlefish
chorizo the signature Spanish sausage: ground pork, flavored with paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. It comes in fresh, smoked, or cured versions. It is eaten cold and sliced or fried as an appetizer. Also it is a key ingredient in many cooked dishes. Spanish chorizo differs significantly from Hispanic or Mexican. The Spanish version is very mild, has lower fat content and is more firm and cured.
chorrito dash
Chufa Nut strainer Used to make horchata, it is a conical strainer with an ultra-fine mesh which is used with a tapered wooden pestle to strain and press down chifa nuts to make a very smooth puree.
churro a fritter, deep-fried tube of batter, often eaten with thick drinking chocolate (chocolate a la taza)
cilantro, culantro coriander
cinnamon The highly aromatic inner bark of several laurel trees native to Sri Lanka and the East Indies can be rolled and sold as quills or sticks, or ground into a spice. Cinnamon can be used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes.
ciruela plum
ciruela seca dried plum, prune
clara de huevo egg white
clavo (de olor) clove
cocer al horno bake
cochinillo suckling pig
cocido long simmered stew based on chickpeas or other legumes, which includes vegetables, meats, and embutidos / sausages
cocina casera good home cooking, plain fare
cocinar cook
cocinar a fuego lento simmer
cocoa en polvo cocoa powder
Codfish, dried salted (bacalao) A favorite in Spain since medieval times -brought by the vast Spanish fishing fleet. It has distinctive flavor which is best enjoyed when the bacalao is prepared with a sauce, such as the Basque bacalau al pil pil, or a parsley based green sauce alone. Look for cod that is well dried and white - preferably with the skin on for baked dishes, although cod that has been boned and skinned before drying is easier to handle. To rehydrate and remove the excess salt Bacalao needs a soaking period of about 24 hourst.
codorniz quail
cogollo lettuce heart, also dwarf lettuce
col cabbage
colar strain
coliflor cauliflower
colorante alimenticio food coloring
combinar combine
comedor dining room
comida meal, dinner, lunch
comida food
comida basura, porquerías junk food
comino cumin
comiso packed lunch
compangu refers to meats and embutidos used in fabada with lamb
completamente thoroughly
condimento seasoning
conejo rabbit
congelado frozen
congrio conger eel
conservante preservative
conservar preserve
consistencia consistency
copos de avena oats
corazones de alcachofas artichoke hearts
cordero lamb
cortado en cuatro quartered
cortar trim
cortar en cuadritos diced
cortar en lonchas finas thinly sliced
cortijo country house, farmhouse, esp. in Andalusia
cosa para pelar patatas potato peeler
costillas spare ribs
crema catalana a traditional Catalan custard with a caramel crust, similar to creme brulee
croquetas breaded croquettes filled with a thick bechamel, incorporating chopped ham, boiled egg, chicken.
crudo raw
crujiente, crocante crispy
cuajar curdle
cuajo rennet
cubrir cover
cuchara tablespoon
cuchara de medir measuring spoon
cucharada spoon
cucharita, cucharilla teaspoon
cucharones ladles
cuenco bowls
cumin indigenous to the eastern Mediterranean, cumin whole or ground cumin seeds to flavor savory dishes and breads. The pungent,nutty flavor can be enhanced by dry roasting before use.
cuscurro crouton