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Food And Drink

Gibraltar - Food And Drink

Gibraltarian cuisine is mainly influenced by the long relationship between the Andalusian Spaniards and the British who lived in this territory for centuries. There's a significant influence of many foreigners who made Gibraltar their home over the past three centuries as well. This foreign culinary impact on the Gibraltarian cuisine includes regions such as Malta, Genoa and Portugal. This variety of tastes has given Gibraltar an eclectic mix of Mediterranean and British cuisine.

There are bars and bistros throughout the town and at the two marinas. They all operate under Mediterranean licensing hours, selling British beer as well. Restaurants cover a whole range of cuisines, offering British, French, Spanish, American, Moroccan, Italian, Chinese and Indian dishes. In general, Gibraltan food is a combination of British, Maltese, Italian and Spanish influences though it is rare to find it in restaurants and cafés.

The most common specialities in Gibraltar are spinach tortilla, calentita and panissa. The last two are both like quiche but made from chick pea flour. When it comes to tipping in this country, it is wise to tip between 10 and 15%.


This is the popular local pasta dish of Italian origin. It consists of penne in a tomato sauce with beef or occasionally pork, mushrooms and carrots among other vegetables, which depends on family tradition. Finally it is all topped with grated "queso bola". The origin of its name probably comes from the English word "Roast".

Fideos al horno
This is a baked pasta dish very similar to the Maltese imqarrun or Greek pastitsio. It mainly consists of macaroni, bolognese sauce, and various addiotinal ingredients including egg and bacon that also may vary according to family tradition. The macaroni is usually topped with a layer of grated cheese or béchamel that melts during the baking process. Even though the main ingredient of this dish is macaroni, the name "fideos al horno" is actually Spanish, meaning "baked noodles".

Bread (savoury)

This is a baked pancake-like dish, the Italian farinata, also known as fainâ in Genoa and as fainá in Spain. It is made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper. The word calentita is the informal diminutive of the Spanish word caliente, which means "nice and warm".

A very similar dish is widely consumed in Algeria, where it is known as Calentica, Galentita or Karantita. This dish has the same Spanish etymology. According to local sources, Calentita was introduced into Algeria by the Spaniards who were garrisoned at the port of Santa Cruz during the 16th century.

It is believed that it goes back all to 1704, when connections between the Barbary Coast and Gibraltar were established. The Sephardi Jews from the Barbary Coast may have reintroduced this dish to Gibraltar, where it was kept until modern times. Another widely suggested theory is that the origin of the calentita is in Genoese migrations to Gibraltar and Iberia that started before the Anglo-Dutch initiative in 1704.

At that time, the Sephardi Jews from the Barbary Coast became major food providers for the British in Gibraltar, bringing their customs, language and food culture. In Gibraltar, it is widely believed that name may have come from street vendors who would shout "Calentita!" in order to sell their freshly-cooked wares. Indeed, the last known calentita street vendor, named Paloma, is still remembered locally by older people. However, this story is unlikely to be true, since the name can be traced to the 16th century during the Spanish presence in Oran.

Panissa is a bread-like dish similar to calentita. Sharing its Italian origins, it is believed to be a descendant of the Genoese dish which carries the same name. Unlike calentita the ingredients are first simmered in a saucepan for over an hour, stirring constantly, to form a paste which is then left to sit for a while. When the polenta-like dough is set, it is cut into small strips and fried in olive oil.

Bread (sweet)

Bollo de hornasso
This is a sweet and dry bread similar to the Spanish hornazo. It is made with self-raising flour, sugar, eggs, butter or margarine, and aniseed. Bollos de hornasso are usually made around Easter in Spain, but in Gibraltar they are also popular during Christmas. Gibraltarian hornassos can normally be distinguished from the original Spanish hornazo as they do not tend to be decorated with hard-boiled eggs. However, Gibraltarian families of Spanish descent may still decorate them in this traditional manner. It is usually glazed with beaten egg.

Pan dulce
This is sweet fruit and nut bread that is usually prepared at Christmas time. The term pan dulce means "sweet bread" in Spanish, but its origins may also lie in Italy with the Genoese pandolce or Portuguese sweet bread. The main ingredients can include lard, margarine, sugar, self-raising flour, blanched almonds, raisins, sultanas, pine nuts, candied peel, eggs, aniseed and anisette among others.


These are thin slices of beef surrounding breadcrumbs, bacon, eggs, olives, vegetables and herbs. These can be baked, fried or cooked in wine. Rolitos is another dish of Maltese origin, similar to braġjoli. It is also known as beef olives in English, even though some families prefer making them with pork or chicken. The word rolito comes from the Spanish word rollo, meaning 'roll', as the meat is rolled to hold the other ingredients inside.


This is a choux pastry ball with a typically sweet filling of whipped cream or custard. They are usually garnished with chocolate sauce as well. The initial meaning of the name profiterole is unknown, but it can be translated as a kind of roll which is "baked under the ashes". Profiteroles are the national dish of Gibraltar, meaning they are often served during Gibraltarian festivals and celebrations.

The japonesa, of Japanese lady in English, is a sweet fried doughnut filled with a custard-like cream. Japonesas are usually enjoyed at teatime or as a snack, and they are traditionally coated in syrup or granulated sugar. The name is a reference to Japanese Dorayaki cakes that are similarly shaped, having a sweet filling as well.

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