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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Discover Spain's best Paprika
27 February 2019

Paprika is a fundamental ingredient in traditional Spanish cooking, with a flavour that brings to mind comfort food at its finest.

The aroma, flavour and colour of paprika leaves its unmistakeable signature on each dish as well as some of the most typical charcuterie products in Spanish culture.

Chillies were brought over from the west and with them the varieties associated with paprika. Once harvested, they are fire or sun dried. They are then ground until the final texture is reached and then sold.
The paprika that is protected under the Designation of Origin comes from La Vera or Murcia.

The paprika from La Vera (my favourite) is made from Capsicum annuum chillies of the Capsicum cerasiforme and Capsicum longum varieties, which are used to make three different types of paprika: sweet, sweet and sour, and spicy; a wood-burning fire with oak or holm oak provide all the heat necessary to perfectly dehydrate paprika and give it its characteristic “smokiness” both in aroma and flavour.

 

Paprika from Murcia, on the other hand comes from grinding red Capsicum Annuum longum chillies of the bola variety that have been dried in the sun or with hot air.

 


The best tip for buying this spice is to opt for the products with a Designation of Origin (DO) “Pimentón de la Vera” (La Vera Paprika) or “Pimentón de Murcia” (Murica Paprika) seal. This spice is widely available, but the ones that are not protected under the DOs do not offer the same quality or flavour. These are the logos you should look our for:

 

                 

 

 

Paprika has only 3 kcal per gram. It is rich in Beta-Carotene, which acts as a very effective antibiotic, and it also contains riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3) in smaller quantities. Of its minerals, it is richest in iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It also contains lycopene, a very effective antioxidant that slows down the ageing process, and capsaicin, which promotes good circulation, stimulating the appetite and aiding in digestion.

 



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Madrid's Botanical Garden
20 February 2019

 

Founded by King Ferdinand IV's royal decree, the Real Jardín Botánico is a two-and-a-half centuries-old wonder, occupying 20-acres of lush terrain in the heart of Spain's capital city.

Housed in its current location since 1781 in a building designed by the same architectural team responsible for the Museo del Prado, the botanical garden was initially populated with over 2,000 specimens retrieved from all over the Iberian peninsula by botanist and surgeon José Quer. After implausibly surviving centuries worth of civil and international wars, the collection has expanded to over 90,000 flowers and plants (not counting its herbarium with a literal million specimens on its own) plus an estimated 1,500 trees.

Originally arranged according to the Linneaus method favored during the period, in which the specimens are categorized in terraces of import, today its expansive grounds have been rearranged in a fashion that makes more sense.

Visitors will find the Real Jardín Botanico has been divided into seven outdoor gardens and five indoor greenhouses. Each of these sections are arranged logically by theme, content, and nature of origin. Highlights include the "Terraza de Cuadros" – featuring a Japanese garden and a series of box-edged plots filled with medicinal, aromatic, and orchard-like plants arranged around a fountain – and a romantic, period-accurate garden arranged to echo an English garden bursting with trees and shrubs. 

 

Perhaps most fascinatingly of all, one of Real Jardín Botánico's greenhouses has the ability to recreate the desert climate, making it one of the very few places where visitors can experience an accurate desert experience without leaving continental Europe.



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