The main culinary art in Andalusia is the frying of fish. This depends on a variety of factors, such as the quantity of the olive oil used for frying, the quality of the flour used in making the batter, and of course the fish to be fried. The fried-fish shops in Cadiz are a real institution. They are a kind of bar where paper cones containing "pescaito frito" are sold, to be eaten there and then whilst drinking a glass or two of the local wine. Even though there are magnificent first-class restaurants throughout the region, it is very typical for people to go out for "tapas", which entails trying very small portions of the specialities to be found in different bars.
Fish and shellfish play an important role in local cooking and a visit to any fish market will demonstrate the great variety to be found. The main examples of shellfish include prawns, Norway lobsters, king prawns, "bogavantes" (a variety of lobster) and a shellfish speciality known as "bocas de la Isla". The prawns from Huelva and the king prawns from Sanlucar de Barrameda are of particularly excellent quality. The continental shelf around the area of the Gulf of Cadiz is a natural feeding ground for such fish as sole, plaice, turbot, sea bream, gilt-head bream, a local fish known as "urta" and meagre. Tunny fish is of both economical as well as gastronomical importance and has been fished since time immemorial. Grey mullet and river estuary sole which breed in the salt pans are other specialities to be found in these latitudes.
Lamb from the inland farming areas and sausage-type products from the mountain areas are just some of the different types of meats available in this region. The Iberian pig, with its slender dark-coloured hooves, provides succulent meat products, and Jabugo ham is one of the greatest gastronomical delights known.
In the area of El Andevalo and the Sierra de Aracena, white truffles and mushrooms are found in abundance. Species such as "gurumelos", "boletus edulis" and "ammanitas cesareas" are highly-prized by micologists and gourmets alike. While on the subject of Andalusia, we should not forget to mention the "sopas de picadillo" (giblet soups) and "gazpachos" which are irreplaceable when the heat of the summer becomes excessive.
The legacy of the Arabs and a conventual tradition have all helped to give great importance to the region's desserts and sweet courses. Dishes such as "tocinillos de cielo" (a sweet made of eggs and syrup), "turron" (a kind of nougat) from Cadiz, "pastelillos" (small cakes) from Moguer and "alfajores (pastries) from Medina-Sedonia are perhaps the finest examples. Turning to fruit, we find many fruits with an exquisitely aromatic taste. For example, peaches from La Nava, melons and watermelons from Cortegana and Rota, pears from Calaorza, wild and cultivated strawberries from Lepe and Moguer and muscatel grapes from Chipiona.