Spain may bring sun, sangria and great foods such as tapas and paella to mind, but Spain is a country with a rich history that has influenced the world in both cuisine and cookware. For example, much of the ceramic cookware and tableware still used today has its origins from Spain.
Although kitchens in Spain contain many of the same items that you can find at any kitchen appliance store, they often have some unique olive wood cookware such as bowls (single and multi-compartment), mortar and pestles, salad servers, salad bowls and cooking utensils. You can also find some stovetop and oven cookware, such as paella pans, cazuelas, roasters and ollas.
Spain has many olive trees, so the wood is readily available. Olive wood contains distinctive swirling colors of tan, brown and black, and it is hard, heavy and strong. Cookware and cooking utensils made of olive wood have a very smooth finish and a waxy feel to them. The stovetop and oven cookware come in a variety of materials. Traditionally, oblong two-handled paella pans are made of carbon steel, but the modern pans are enameled for easier cleaning. The two-handled cazuela pans are oblong-shaped shallow ceramic pans. Roasters are oblong or rectangular deep terracotta ceramic pans and generally contain a lid. Finally the two-handled ollas are round-shaped deep terracotta or iron pots that contain lids.
The olive wood cookware is generally used for cold foods, which the exception of the cooking utensils. Because the wood is hard, it can take the heat for stovetop dishes. Paella pans are used for paella, which is a dish made of different combinations of meats, seafood, vegetables, rice and saffron. Cazuela pans are used for tapas, but can also be used for paella. Tapas, the Spanish version of an appetizer, come in a variety of different combinations of meats, seafood and vegetables. Roasters are used for roasting meats and vegetables, but they can also be used for dishes that are created with cazuela pans. Ollas are used for bean or stew dishes, but they are also frequently used for storage.
Olive wood cookware, paella pans, cazuela pans, roasters and ollas are used throughout Spain, however they originate from different areas. Olive wood cookware originates from the Navarra region of Spain, paella pans originate from the Murcia region, cazuela pans originate from the Girona region and the ollas originate from the Valencia region.
Olive wood cookware comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Paella pans generally range from 8 to 39 inches in diameter. Cazuela pans generally range from 4 to 14 inches in diameter. Roasting pans come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and many have lids. Finally ollas generally range from three to eight quarts.
- Photo Credit series object on black - wood cookware image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com