by Nellie Huang

9296575690?profile=originalWith its romantic Mediterranean flair, rich cuisine and millennia-old history, Spain has captured the hearts of many – including world-famous Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow. There’s no denying that the 40-year-old celebrity has had a long love affair with Spain: she speaks almost perfect Spanish with an Iberian accent, she’s worked closely with several Spanish directors and she’s even hosted her own culinary show based in Spain.

Paltrow Hails Spain as Her Second Home

“Spain changed my life,” Gwyneth said in an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail. “When I was 15, I went to a small town outside Talavera de la Reina and I had the most wonderful experience. It really changed my life,” Paltrow said. She’d spent a year as an exchange student in the little pueblo and fell completely in love with the country. To the Oscar-winning actress, Spain is her second home – despite her success, she still visits at least once a year and remains close to her host family back in Spain.

Paltrow especially loves the Spanish lifestyle: “They seem to enjoy life a little bit more. They aren’t running around as much as in New York. They enjoy time with the family. They don’t always have their Blackberries on.”

Spanish Cuisine Top on the List

In 2007, Paltrow filmed a 13-part TV series, Spain…on the Road Again with renowned Spanish chef Mario Batali, New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols. The series gave viewers a closer look at Spain’s cuisine, wine, culture and nightlife, as the four celebrities cruised around Spain in a fleet of Mercedes, sampling the best fare in the country.

So what’s a longtime vegetarian like Paltrow doing in a country that’s big on meat? Paltrow said she likes rice dishes and seafood and  indeed, there’s rarely a shortage of good crustaceans in this Mediterranean country.

If you’ve always been curious about Spanish food, be sure to catch the show as they showcase the unique gastronomy in almost every corner of Spain – from cooking seafood paella in its birthplace Valencia, to savoring local ensaimadas on the island of Mallorca to sampling pintxos in San Sebastián and stewing the legendary cocido madrileño in the country’s capital. And if you’re wondering what’s so special about Spain that has Hollywood stars going gaga for it, then be sure to head there for a visit.

photos: Nellie Huang, Wikipedia

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