Though Spanish cuisine has roots in Roman and Mediterranean cooking, influence from Jewish and Moorish settlers differentiates Spain's cooking from the rest of Europe. Later, Spanish conquistadores brought back numerous foods from the Americas that were then introduced to the rest of Europe, including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and beans.
Spain is an area of great geographical diversity—green mountains, endless plains, forests, marshlands and the longest coastline of any European country, with beaches on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Spain and Portugal make up Europe's "Iberian peninsula," and Spain is full of exciting gastronomic adventures. Each of the regions has its own distinct flavor and heritage.
Early settlers to Spain include the Iberians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Celts and Carthaginians. Later, the Romans dominated Spain, contributing all their best qualities, including language. In the 8th Century AD, the Moslems (known as Moors) conquered the nation bringing the Moslem religion and culture with them and ruled until the 13th Century, when the Christians again took dominance.
When Spain dispatched Columbus to America, it soon after reaped the profits and goods from his and others' explorations. The country's Charles V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1516, ruling over countries from the Philippines to Germany to the New World. The last great foreign influence prior to its tumultuous modern history came in 1808, when Napoleon overran Spain and his brother took the throne.
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This page modified January 2007
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