I first discovered Spanish food at a tapas bar in New York City and fell in love instantly, since then I had wanted to travel to Spain and experience the real thing.
I finally had the chance to visit Barcelona, the main goal of the trip was to experience the many tapas bars and excellent food and culture. I was not disappointed and intend to visit again in the coming years for the same reason - the food!
I greatly enjoyed the country, its people and lifestyle and can see myself living there, shopping in the markets and cooking with the most amazing ingredients - specifically fresh seafood and pork products.
Spain has many different personalities and flavor profiles from Andalucia to Galicia to Catalonia and everything in between - every part of Spain has its own food specialties and traditions. I prefer the more traditional Spanish dishes and way of eating for example roast baby pig and pintxos/tapas mainly because you can taste the history, culture and soul of the country.
Tapas is a very social way of eating with no 'rules' that you must first have your salad then entree then dessert in that order - you can enjoy whatever you like and as much as you like, you're not limited to only one or two things which keeps the eater from becoming bored and allows one to easily try new things.
In my experience, Spanish cuisine in general whether traditional or modern is always prepared with passion and a sense of pride and respect for both the country and the ingredients - Spanish cooks don't just want to feed your hunger but they want to touch your soul and seduce your mind! In Spain, eating is not just something one does out of a need to survive, it is an experience and a way to connect and relate to those who prepare the food and those you are sharing your meal with.
I believe the culture of food in Spain is something that many Americans are just starting to understand and appreciate. In the US, people sometimes have a negative or non-existent view of food. Because so many people in the US have health and weight problems, food is often seen as something bad that you need to avoid and not take pleasure in. Many people are raised in environments where little or no emphasis is placed on food - its merely a form of sustenance lacking flavor and creativity.
I feel that people are starting to rebel against these ways of thinking about food and are beginning to recognize that food can be something positive. When travelers return from experiencing food in Spain, they can't help but talk about their eating adventures - the buzz is growing and anyone who is seriously interested in exploring new foods can't help but add Spain to their list.
Another reason why people are starting to embrace Spanish food is because the American food culture has been very dull. People quickly grab a bite to eat in between errands, they gulp down re-heated take-out while watching TV and many people want to add more flavor and excitement to their meals but don't have access to unordinary ingredients or restaurants in their area - these people are ready and willing to experience something different and exciting.
Because Spain is so welcoming and has a great deal to offer visitors in addition to excellent cuisine, it is the perfect foodie destination.
Also, there is a growing segment of the population that has discovered a passion for food especially that of different cultures and is seeking that which they cannot have - the tapas bar hopping experience, the delicious cava and my personal favorite - jamon, something you can't get easily in the US.
You can order your cured pork and aged Manchego online, you can sit at an American interpretation of a Spanish bar but its an empty experience - nothing compares to the real thing.