Monday, January 27, 2020


In my semester abroad I tried many new foods. I found some of my absolute favorites while also keeping a healthy distance from others (like the raw cow tongue in the market). There is no shortage of fascinating dishes to try in Europe.

The Valencian region is known for its fresh fruit and citrus, and I enjoyed many oranges, melón (there is one kind, it is called “melon,” and it is amazing), and fresh-squeezed orange juice (zumo de naranja). Seasonal fruit cups and juices could always be found in local markets. Valencia is also the birthplace of paella, a traditional Spanish lunch dish consisting of cooked rice, vegetables, seafood, spices, and sometimes snails (eek!). September 20th was world paella day and basically a regional holiday in Valencia, so giant dishes of paella were cooked in the city plazas and free to the public- so yummy! Tapas, or small food plates, are popular for snacks, and my favorite was patatas bravas. Warm fried potatoes with a bravas sauce and aioli, patatas bravas is a great snack at the beach, after class- anytime really. One of my favorite Spanish treats was churros con chocolate! In Spain, the churros are warm and fresh and served with granulated sugar, not cinnamon sugar. The chocolate is served warm and so delicious! I took a cooking class (yes for school credit) and learned how to make these traditional Spanish dishes like paella and patatas bravas! We also learned about the Mediterranean diet (basically the secret to living forever while eating amazing food) and cooked many dishes using potatoes, pasta, bread, and fish- all homemade and fresh. I was also able to venture out and try some of the famous dishes from other countries: croissants and crepes from Paris, waffles and French fries from Belgium (surprise, French fries are actually from Belgium), soft pretzels and bratwurst from Germany, cheese fondue from Switzerland, pasta, pizza, and gelato from Italy, and pastel de nata from Portugal. I will say this semester was completely worth it just for the food alone.



Fresh oranges


Homemade Italian pasta

Fresh fruit


If I have piqued your interest in Valencia, Spain, travel, or food, check out my other blog posts and as always, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me if you are thinking about studying abroad, are going to Valencia, want to plan a weekend trip to Valencia, have questions about where to travel to in Europe, how to fly super cheap, how to see everything in London in just one day, the best places to eat fresh fruit or churros, how much study abroad might cost (real numbers from when I wrote down everything I spent), how much you can expect/budget to spend on a weekend trip, Airbnb/hostel recommendations and do’s/don’ts, where you can find genuine alpine cows and anything else you can think of. Whether you have one question or one million questions, I will literally drop what I'm doing to talk about it. I always check my email and am not scary.


Emily Carroll, a third-year chemistry student from West Des Moines, Iowa, studied abroad in Spain on the USAC Valencia program.