The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Spanish Food
Spain is renowned for its vibrant flavors and diverse regional dishes. The five countries with the most similar food are all part of the European Union. With the exception of Portugal, these countries border the Mediterranean Sea as well, so they tend to have a lot of seafood in their diet. In addition, four of the five nations are predominately Catholic.
- Portugal and Spain are both on the Iberian peninsula, so their cuisine has a lot in common. Their diets tend to have a lot of seafood, olive oil, and fresh ingredients. Iconic dishes like bacalhau (salted cod), caldo verde (kale soup), and pasteis de nata (custard tarts) have become staples of both Portuguese and Spanish tables. Additionally, both countries have a deep appreciation for stews and grilled meats.
- Greece is on the opposite side of the Mediterranean Sea, but also has similar food. Both cuisines have both European and Middle Eastern influences. The use of olive oil, fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices is central to both Spanish and Greek food. Calamari, or fried squid, is popular in both countries. These nations also embrace a relaxed dining culture with an emphasis on meze (small shared plates).
- France is on Spain’s Northern border. French dishes like bouillabaisse (fish stew), cassoulet (slow-cooked meat and bean casserole), and ratatouille (vegetable stew) share similarities with Spanish classics. Additionally, France and Spain have a shared passion for charcuterie, with cured meats being a beloved component of their culinary traditions. Cheese and wine are popular in both countries as well.
- Italy is located across the Balearic Sea from Spain. Ingredients such as tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and aromatic herbs are essential to both cuisines. While each country has its distinct culinary identity, both share a love for rice dishes (such as paella and risotto), and a wide variety of cured meats. The simplicity of Italian and Spanish cuisine allows its ingredients to shine.
- Croatia is yet another country on this list with a lot of coastline on the Mediterranean. Croatian dishes like cevapi (grilled minced meat), buzara (shellfish stew), and pašticada (slow-cooked beef) echo the flavors and techniques found in Spanish cuisine. The coastal regions of both countries also celebrate the bounty of the sea, offering an array of delicious seafood dishes.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Spanish Food
All five countries with the least similar food to Spain are located in Africa. They also have a significantly warmer climate. In addition, four of the five countries are landlocked. Moreover, these countries are significantly less developed than Spain. Neither bread nor pork are commonly eaten in these countries.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is a country in the middle of Africa. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country, a food that few Spaniards have eaten before. The most commonly eaten meat in Congo is freshwater fish, whereas pork and chicken are more popular in Spain. Furthermore, in contrast to Spain, their diet has little meat in it.
- Chad is mostly desert land. It is a sparsely populated, landlocked country in Africa. Chad’s cuisine is also far different from Spain’s. It heavily relies on staple foods like millet, sorghum, rice, corn, and beans, which form the basis of its dishes. Another reason is that its people are mostly Muslim, so they do not consume a lot of pork.
- South Sudan is located to the northeast of Congo. It is another country where cassava is the staple food, however the country eats its share of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. Unlike in Spain, beef is the most commonly consumed meat in the South Sudan.
- Burundi‘s meals are generally simpler than Spain’s since they mostly consist of staple foods like cassava and sweet potatoes. Their dishes include beans, rice, and vegetables. They are commonly served together, accompanied by a sauce or stew.
- Central African Republic is a landlocked African country that borders both Congo and South Sudan. Cassava and yams are two of the most commonly eaten ingredients in the country. Furthermore, taro and bananas make a much greater share of the diet in Central African Republic than Spain.
Spain’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pork, Chicken
Fruit: Orange, Grape
Vegetable: Tomato, Onion
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.