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IAN & SPAIN

WELCOME TO MY BLOG. HAVING LIVED IN SPAIN FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS I HAVE TRULY MANAGED TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN THE LOCAL CULTURE AND FEEL TOTALLY INTEGRATED. I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT MY PASSION FOR SPANISH FOOD AND DRINK AS WELL AS ITS CULTURE, PEOPLE AND PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT.

Mercadona does it again...its new "make-your-life-easier" product!
Friday, September 23, 2022

Mercadona, the supermarket chain is constantly adapting to the new demands of consumers by bringing out new products or should I say bringing out products to make life easier and distance ourselves from the more time-consuming traditional cooking. Every day you see more ready-made meals available, obviously, they are way behind the UK in this area but that's a good thing!

 

 

There are many people who, through social networks, echo the new products that they bring to the market by trying them and leaving reviews or videos about them. Before it was with beauty products and now, more and more, people are encouraged to share videos on their personal accounts on social networks where they cook a recipe with the products they have purchased at Mercadona. I even think I have done so in this very blog.

However recently the Masterchef finalist, Toni Carceller, published a video on his Tik Tok account cooking a Valencian paella with a new stock that Mercadona has released called “stock for meat paella over firewood”.


After explaining the process of making a Valencian paella with this stock, the Masterchef finalist, admits that "it is one of the best paella stocks" he has tried and recommends it to all those who want to achieve similar results with the minimum effort.


The product is from the Hacendado brand, Mercadon's own house brand. It comes in a 950ml glass bottle, where its properties are best preserved, and is priced at 3 euros. So one bottle would be ideal for 3 people - approx 300g of rice when using normal Senia round rice.

The ingredients contained are the following: water, chicken, crushed tomato, extra virgin olive oil, salt, sweet paprika and rosemary leaf (infused). In Toni Carceller's opinion, the stock did lack a bit of salt, which could be added just after adding the stock.


I must admit I was intrigued by the product and thought I would give it a try - I know, I would normally shy away from these "make-your-life-easier" products but what caught my eye was "over firewood" and was curious to know if they had managed to capture the firewood flavour or not. I have to admit that they did, I was quite impressed. I would really have to recommend this as a great solution for a small paella, such as a paella for two or for three. Any larger and I think I would do it myself, but for a quick and simple result, it really does hit the mark.

There is also a fumet for a seafood paella or fideua which really does give you an excellent result and takes all the hassle out of making a seafood stock. 

 

 

No excuses for not making paella now, even just for two people!

 

Enjoy!

 

@tonimchef6 🥘Probamos el caldo para paella de Mercadona 🥘 #recetastiktok #recetas #paella #paellavalenciana #paellas #paellalovers #gastronomia #recetas #recipesoftiktok #tiktoker #tiktokviral #fyp ♬ DESPECHÁ - ROSALÍA


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World Paella Day is very close!
Friday, September 16, 2022

 

The 20th of September is World Paella Day. This day is in recognition of the most universal dish Spanish gastronomy has given to the world. A day in which the Valencians share their great invention with everyone around the globe, putting aside differences and disputes with techniques or ingredients. World Paella Day simply put, celebrates a meal of humble Valencian origin that has transcended all borders. With millions and millions of yearly searches on the internet and its global consumption, according to the organisers and tasteatlas.com amongst other sources, it has scaled the ranks to become the fourth most important dish on the planet, only beaten by Sushi, Ramen and Tacos. Today being World Paella Day, all 'versions' of the Paella are accepted whatever ingredients you use, but tomorrow or the day when you happen to read this article, I can assure you they won't. The Spanish or the Valencians will return to their defensive position of protecting the original Paella - The Paella Valenciana.

There are hundreds of recipes for paella but I am amazed at how many just give the wrong ingredients and techniques. Yes, this is a dish that appears simple and straightforward but has its complications, as I am sure those who have tried making one for the first time quickly found out: “It hasn’t got much flavour” or “The rice is all sticky” or “is that the right colour?” or maybe all of them. I have seen dozens of recipes for paellas on the internet and I am amazed at how few follow the traditional recipe and don’t give straightforward instructions. I’ve eaten a lot of paellas in and outside of Valencia and I can assure you the story changes when you leave Valencia. People start getting creative and putting ingredients in that a Valencian wouldn’t dream of using, not even on World Paella Day, like peas, chorizo, sausage, onion and even carrots! This is not the traditional dish and therefore cannot be called a Paella! To put it simply a Valencian would call it "Rice with Things" - "Arroz con Cosas..."

It is just not done like that in Valencia and let’s not forget, Valencia is the home of the Paella. The recipe has been around for well over 500 years and yet many still consider the “Paella Mixta” (mixed paella: meat and seafood and God knows what else) to be traditional Paella. The Mixta was a recent creation for the foreign tourists and started back in the ’60s with the tourist boom, it’s not very clear why it started but probably Mum and Dad couldn’t agree on which paella they wanted; “meat or seafood?” and asked for a mixed one! Who knows? But this “version” is only really served in tourist regions and is very popular in the Balearic isles, precisely for this reason; the tourists. So it is very rare to see a Spaniard and definitely not a Valencian ordering a Paella Mixta and you’ll be hard fetched to find a restaurant that serves one in Valencia.

So all that said, if you consider entertaining Spanish people with Paella, do not serve a Mixta! Surf'n Turf doesn't work with this dish.

 

 

 

So what ingredients should be in a Paella?

The authentic “Paella Valenciana” has a seal of guarantee of origin and quality (Denominación de origin), which identifies the 10 basic ingredients that it must have :

Olive Oil, Chicken, Rabbit, Ferraura (wide green runner beans), Garrafon (local large white bean),Tomato, Water , Salt, Saffron and Rice (Valencian round rice).

 

 

These are the basic ingredients for the orthodox paella, nothing else. However, some local variations are admitted under the name “Paella Valenciana”, which have come from local areas within Valencia, such as Benicarló where they historically add artichokes. Duck is used as well as other ingredients in the L’Albufera, snail, sweet paprika and rosemary are also admitted but nothing else.

If you fancy giving it a go, here is my guide to paella making: Click Here

RECOMMENDATIONS

If you don't have time to make it yourself, or would rather simply try the 'Real Deal' here are a few of my recommendations if you happen to be in the Valencia area, all range from 20-40 euros / per person depending on the wine, but these aren't just restaurants, they are wonderful places to spend the afternoon and enjoy a lazy long lunch in good company.

These first two restaurants are run by the Rafael Soler Orient so share the same philosophy. He is the son of the founders of La Genuina in Pinedo, also listed below and considered one of the classic restaurants in Valencia, all are fantastic restaurants.

- Castellar, Valencia (Next to Pinedo)

https://restaurantealqueriadelbrosquil.com/

Trip Advisor comments

 

 

ALQUERIA DEL POU -  Valencia capital (Next to the Science and Arts Museum)

http://alqueriadelpou.com

Trip Advisor comments

 

 

LA GENUINA - Pinedo (Next to Valencia : 10 min)

https://www.restauranteslagenuina.com/

Trip Advisor comments

 

 

CASA SALVADOR - Cullera (40 km south of Valencia on the coast)

Must order table on the terrace. It's preferable to avoid Sundays here, it gets ever so busy and can be slow.

http://www.casasalvador.com

Trip Advisor comments



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Olives & Bones
Thursday, September 8, 2022

The results of a study announced recently into the possible treatment methods for osteoporosis have found that olive oil could play a role in both the future development of drugs as well as in the dietary requirements of patients. Investigations across various fields of medicine have even gone as far as detecting a molecule in Extra Virgin Olive Oil that works as a barrier for sexually transmitted HIV.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by a decrease in bone mass, which in turn causes the architecture of bone tissue to become fragile. This can then increase the possiblities of fractures, making even the slightest of knocks potentially fatal for sufferers.

 

 

The disease is recognised as being particularly prevalent among postmenopausal women for whom a decrease in the production of estrogen then weakens bone structures and most commonly affects the ribs, wrists, and hips. For this study, scientists were particularly interested in how a supplementation of olive oil could be used to help women in this category.

Tests were carried out on rats showing comparable conditions to female human menopause, with one group being treated orally with olive oil. At the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected and tested for levels of calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), malondialdehyde (MDA), and nitrates.

The results found that that rats not treated with olive oil showed a significant decrease in calcium levels and a significant increase in plasma ALP, MDA, and nitrates levels.

Olive oil supplementation proved to be beneficial and was found to both attenuate these changes and to positively affect the thickness of bones.

Diet plays a significant role in maintaining healthy bones for which it is important to eat foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D, as well as those containing minerals including: phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, boron, iron, fluoride, and copper. Doctors often recommend foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, and grains to improve mineral levels, while cod liver oil and fish such as tuna and salmon are considered to be good sources of Vitamin D. When it comes to improving levels of calcium, dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and fortified milk are very often recommended but olive oil can also be a good source. In one cup (216mg), olive oil contains 2.2mg of Calcium, as well as necessary minerals such as Iron (1.2mg), Potassium (2.2mg), and sodium (4.3mg).

Olive oil will not be the only solution in the continuing fight against postmenopausal osteoporosis but having performed well in the lab, scientists have concluded that it is a very promising candidate for future treatments of the disease.

 

The authors of the study are Dr. Nermine K Saleh and Dr. Hanan A Saleh, Ain Shams University, Egypt. - Study: Olive Oil effectively mitigates ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis in rats

 

 



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Casa Carmela - 100 years cooking paella
Friday, August 19, 2022

 

Valencia has restaurants that are quite an institution. These centuries-old spaces, which unfortunately are becoming fewer and fewer, are unofficial embassies of Valencian gastronomy and know-how. Casa Carmela, on Malvarrosa beach, is one of them for its history and quality.

Four family generations have kept the business going since 1922. This year this emblematic place celebrates its centenary without changing its recipe one iota. Here they follow the rhythms set by great-grandmother Carmen and that Toni Novo, at the helm since 2011, executes with excellence every day.

 


The history of Casa Carmela dates back to Valencia at the beginning of the 20th century when the beach was filled with booths for bathers. Casa Carmela began as a barrack that served as a changing room and later began to accompany the service with take-out meals.

The humble barrack later became a small bar restaurant facing the Mediterranean and successive reforms have made it what it is today, a modern corner, adapted to its time, but maintaining all the essence that Doña Carmen devised.

 

 

Always with orange tree firewood and only with ingredients from the land, paella is the star dish of Casa Carmela. The Senyoret rice, the lobster paella or the beach lobster paella are the most popular, and the Valencian paella is only made to order.

The rice dish can be accompanied by a large assortment of sea and mountain tapas such as oysters, prawns, esgarraet, puntilla, Iberian ham or a selection of Valencian cheeses, among others. They only work with fresh fish and shellfish brought directly from the fish market, such as Dénia shrimp, beach lobster, clams, Valencian clotxina or beach tellina.

 


During the last 100 years, its gastronomic offering has gone beyond the limits of everyday life, even appearing in novels such as Tranvía a la Malvarrosa by Manuel Vicent, or being one of the reference places of the most illustrious neighbour of the neighbourhood, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.

Casa Carmela receives 150 guests every day and cooks about 25 paellas per service. Why mention it? Because I highly recommend reserving a table so as not to miss such an enjoyable place facing the Mediterranean sea.

 



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"Tellinas por favor!"
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Tellinas or Coquinas, depending on where you live, are commonly known as beach wedge clams and very popular in Spain and they are now in season! They are a species of bivalve mollusc, similar to a clam only smaller, that can be found on the coasts of western Europe and north-western Africa. It usually inhabits the shallowest two meters of coastline and is commercially harvested for food. It is a suspension feeder, which means that it is a consumer feeding on suspended particles in seawater. The shell can be found in colours ranging from olive, through chestnut, to yellow-white and is normally up to an inch wide. In Spain, they are harvested especially in the area of Cadiz and Huelva, but also in some cities along the Mediterranean coast such as Valencia, where we call them 'tellinas'.

This shellfish is simple and quick to prepare and I am yet to find somebody that doesn’t like them, they are fun to eat and my wife refers to them as ‘pipas del mar’ (sunflower seeds from the sea) because they are so moreish like the ever-popular ‘pipas’ en Spain. Once you start eating, it’s difficult to stop.  Fortunately, they are very easy to prepare so they are ideal as a starter especially if you are going to have a heavy second course, such as paella. There are many ways to prepare ‘Tellinas’ but I prefer the simplest way with garlic and lemon.

You will need to calculate half a kilo for say 3-4 people. That should give you a decent starter. But if you do more I wouldn’t worry, they’ll be eaten!

 

Ingredients:

500 gr of fresh Tellinas - wedge clams - (frozen are terrible, so please don't use them)
5 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of fresh parsley
½ lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Plenty of water
Dash of vinegar

 

 

To make sure they are clean and rid of any grit or sand, leave the Tellinas in a bowl of water with a little salt and a dash of vinegar. You will need to keep them in the water for at least 2 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes or so, this will remove any impurities. If you jump this stage or cut it short, you will end up chewing on sand rather than a succulent tasty mollusc and I can assure you it's not very nice.

 

 

Peel and chop the garlic cloves and brown them in a pan with olive oil at medium heat. When the garlic begins to turn brown add the lemon, which should be chopped into small wedges, stir a few times and then add the tellinas and raise the heat to maximum and they will open as a result of heat. To help them open, stir them occasionally letting them knock against each other. This should take no more than two minutes, if they haven’t opened before that time, they won’t and should be discarded. Careful, they cook very quickly and hence dry out very quickly. The secret is in the timing. That is it. Sprinkle the chopped parsley into the pan, shake the pan a couple of times and serve immediately. One final piece of advice is to make sure that the tellinas have plenty of space in the pan to move around and open. Make sure your pan isn’t too small or do them in two batches. 

Enjoy!



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Refreshing Soups for Summer
Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cold soups, like salads, are dishes I crave for in the summer months, so here are a few proposals that are slightly different from your standard gazpacho or vichyssoise. They are really easy to make so you can easily make them in advance and cool them in the fridge for later. 

 

1. //   This first recipe might surprise you because of its ingredients but its taste will also surprise you. Roasted peppers, watermelon and basil make a wonderful blend; the fruit brings a unique freshness to the dish. It is garnished with crispy croutons and boiled egg. You could also add Serrano ham or even ‘mojama’; salted fish. Roasted peppers and basil marry together perfectly but make sure the basil is fresh and the watermelon is flavoursome.

 

Roasted Peppers, Watermelon & Basil

 

 

To make the soup you will need:

Ingredients (4 servings) 
400 grams of roasted peppers (red bell peppers), 
200 grams of roasted pepper juice
250 grams of watermelon 
2 cloves garlic, 
Fresh basil,
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
Salt. 

Garnish :

4 eggs, croutons, extra virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar (optional). 

Make sure you have enough time to roast the peppers and let them cool down before making the recipe. To roast them, clean them inside and out but leave them whole and place them on a tray covered with tin foil and roast them at 200ºC for about an hour or until they are tender, turning them over half way through the cooking time.

Turn off the oven and leave them until they are cool then peel them, remove any seeds and recover the juice that that has been released by the peppers, this will help lighten the soup but maintain its flavour. Place the peppers and half of the juice in the blender. 

Cut the watermelon into cubes, remove the skin and seeds and add it to the peppers in the blender. Peel the garlic cloves, cut them length ways and remove the central roots and add them the blender along with several basil leaves, the amount depends on how much you like the flavour of this aromatic plant. So blend and taste.

Blend until it is creamy and add a trickle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend again to emulsify.  Now you can add the rest of the roasted pepper juice depending on how thick you want the soup to be. Add and blend until you get the consistency you want. Taste for salt and pepper and then store in the refrigerator. 

Make 4 hard-boiled eggs; cool them off in cold water. Peel the eggs and separate yolks and whites, grate the yolks and dice the whites to sprinkle on top of the soup.

Season the croutons with a little extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of vinegar for a touch of acidity. Finally add a few leaves of basil before serving and a slight drizzle of Picual extra virgin olive oil.

 

2. //  This next soup is a Spanish classic; The Ajoblanco, which is like gazpacho or Salmorejo in that every cook has their own proportions and their slight differences but is unique in flavour and always a favourite. I like Ajoblanco with a slight thick and creamy texture, and that is how I am going to share it with you today.  This soup is believed to have originated with the Romans and I can assure you any garlic lover will be asking for seconds so make plenty of it.

Ajoblanco

 

 

Here are Ingredients (4 servings):

 ½ Litre mineral water
250 grams of peeled almonds (to peel them scald them in boiling water)
2 cloves garlic (not too large)
A piece of bread from the previous day (the amount needed will depend on the texture you want)
Sherry vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil  - Arbequina 
Salt. 
 

Again this a recipe that creates hardly any work and if you have a half decent blender you’ll get a velvety texture, however the real Ajoblanco was made with pestle and mortar, only to be done if you fancy a tough workout.

So to save time introduced into the blender the water, the bread, the peeled almonds and garlic, blend them and then emulsify with olive oil, adding it little by little. Finally add the sherry vinegar and salt. 
Taste and rectify accordingly if necessary and then pass the soup through a fine sieve. Cool in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Usually you can accompany the Ajoblanco with grapes or melon, however you can also garnish with anchovies or ham, eggs and a few drops of sesame oil, tomatoes or just with fish roe and a sprig of parsley. There is nothing written in stone so here you can leave your mark.

 

3. //  The last soup today is another recipe that uses melon. Melon goes very well with nuts and also with mint and peppermint, and if we add a touch of flavour with the crispy Serrano ham you can imagine that the combination becomes very interesting. So you must try this recipe soon while the summer is still here. 

 

      Melon, Almonds & Mint

 

 

Ingredients (4-6 servings)
 
 900 grams of Galia Melon
 120 grams of almonds (can be whole, chopped or ground)
 2 cloves garlic
 6 mint leaves (10-12 spearmint)
 Black pepper
 Salt
 40 grams of extra virgin olive oil

 

Garnish:

 Melon balls, cherry tomatoes, crispy Serrano ham bits, small mint leaves, extra virgin olive oil. 

 

Thoroughly wash the melon, dry it, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Make some melon balls using a Parisian spoon and put to one side. Next remove the skin and place the melon fruit, chopped up, into the blender. Peel the garlic, remove the central root inside and add to the blender, add the peeled almonds and mint leaves and finally salt and pepper. Blend into a fine and homogeneous soup. 

Add the extra virgin olive oil and blend into an emulsion. Keep the melon soup in a glass covered container until it has chilled.  When ready to serve add a cherry tomato and one or two melon balls a couple of mint leaves. Serve melon soup and garnish with almonds, a cherry tomato and one or two balls of melon, a few mint leaves, a sprinkle of crispy ham and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 


Well that’s it and I hope you enjoy these refreshing starters.

 



Like 1        Published at 1:47 AM   Comments (2)


What do you rate most highly about Spain?
Friday, July 22, 2022

 

Spanish cuisine is what tourists say they like best about the country. In fact, in 2019 alone, more than ten million of the 84 million tourists who visited Spain did so purely to undertake a food-related activity.         Despite the universal fame of Spain’s creative and cutting-edge cuisine, tourists who come to the country are attracted by its traditional fare, for example, widely-known dishes such as paella, gazpacho, cocido (stew), menestra (vegetable soup) and suckling pig.

This is hardly a surprise, given that less than 100 out of the 250,000 restaurants, bars and eateries in Spain focus directly on the most innovative types of cuisine.

It would be extremely beneficial for all chefs, both traditional and creative, to constantly praise and speak out about the high-quality products they use, raising awareness about them among their national and international clientele, and so achieve a greater knowledge of Spanish foods and a wider market for them. 

The figures clearly show that food is one of the prime motivations for modern tourists and that the range of products on offer today is very diverse. Spain is reclaiming its heritage of popular and traditional cuisine, and also the need to preserve the habits and customs of its people and cities, as well as the fine dining served up in restaurants where great artists of the restaurant world ply their trade.

Good cooking is one of the features most frequently sought by tourists of the 21st Century. The country’s culinary offerings to tourists must, therefore, strike a balance between respect for traditional and popular cooking while also promoting fine dining and auteur cuisine, in order to satisfy curious and unconventional tourists who want an intensely enjoyable experience on every holiday. 

The cultural and gastronomic inheritance of Spain makes its naturally-based diet a leading export which is recommended around the world. The Mediterranean Diet so characteristic of Spain was listed on the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2010.

The Mediterranean Diet, one of our country’s own, goes way beyond being a mere nutritional plan. It is a lifestyle that combines a way of eating which links traditional cooking to fresh products and a way of sharing meals and traditions, a moderate amount of daily exercise and a pleasant climate. The result is an excellent model for a healthy life that has gained international recognition.

In fact, in 2010 UNESCO registered the Mediterranean Diet on its intangible Cultural Heritage list.
The Mediterranean Diet is the result of an invaluable cultural inheritance, which through simplicity and variety, has resulted in a balanced and complete diet, based on fresh, local and seasonal products, insofar as it is possible.

It is characterised by an abundance of vegetable produce, such as bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, legumes, fruit and dried fruit and nuts. Olive oil is another essential ingredient, along with moderate consumption of fish, seafood, free-range poultry, lactose products (yoghurts, cheeses) and eggs. A moderate intake of wine and red meats is also included in the diet.

The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, especially those related to health and the prevention of chronic illnesses are a scientific fact. The majority of the guidelines that the World Health Organization offers are in line with the Mediterranean Diet: an abundance of fruits and vegetables, moderation in salt and sugar, low levels of fat consumption and the use of fresh products.

What do you like most about Spain? The food?


 



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The Tomatina is just around the corner!
Friday, July 15, 2022

La Tomatina is not far off (31st August) and is one of the Spanish festivities that has still eluded me after so many years and I have it pretty much on my doorstep. Unfortunately, this year will be no different...

This festivity is relatively recent compared to other Spanish festivities and has become the second most popular festivity outside of Spanish borders and has even been replicated in major cities around the world. Such countries as China, India, Costa Rica, Colombia, the United States, Chile and others all hold their annual tomato battle, so it's not just the Spanish who are a bit crazy, this tomato fever is incredibly contagious. But just how did this unusual festivity come about? I can assure you it has nothing to do with harvests or religious rituals!

It all started on the last Wednesday of August in 1945 when some young people spent the time in the town square attending the “Giants” and “Big-Heads” figures parade, a traditional festivity in the region. The young boys decided they wanted to take part in the parade with musicians, and the locals dressed up as giants. 
The exaggerated enthusiasm of these young boys caused one of them to be kicked out of the parade. The participant flew into a fit of rage and started to hit everything in his path and the crowd started to get angry. There was a market stall of vegetables nearby that fell victim to the event and people started to pelt each other with tomatoes until the local forces ended the vegetable battle.

The following year, the young people picked a fight by their own decision but this time brought the tomatoes from home. Although the police broke up the early tradition in the following years, the young boys had made history without being conscious of it. La Tomatina was banned in the early 50s, which was not a problem for the participants, even those that were arrested. But the people spoke out in defence of the Tomatina and the festivity was again allowed with more participants and a more frenetic atmosphere than ever.
The festivity was again cancelled till 1957 when, as a sign of protest, the “tomato burial” was held. It was a demonstration in which the residents carried a coffin with a huge tomato inside. A band that played funeral marches accompanied the parade and it was incredibly successful. La Tomatina Festival was finally allowed and became an official festivity. As a result of the report by Javier Basilio, broadcasted on the Spanish Television Program Informe Semanal, the festivity started to become known in the rest of Spain and consequently the rest of the world, as it is probably one of the most insane festivities you will ever come across.

The actual festivity kicks off at around 10 AM on the last Wednesday of August with the first event of the Tomatina: The "Palo Jabón". This is basically a tall pole that has been smothered in grease. The goal is to climb to the top of the greased pole and recover a Spanish Leg of Ham which is hanging from the top. As this happens, the crowd work into a frenzy of singing and dancing while being showered with water by hoses. Once someone has managed to recover the ham from the pole, the start signal for the tomato fight is given by firing a large water shot in the air and trucks full of tomatoes make their entry. 

 

Several trucks empty 1000’s of kilos of tomatoes in the middle of the village Plaza. The tomatoes actually come from Extremadura, where they are much cheaper and are grown specifically for the festivity, being of inferior quality and taste. The tomatoes must be crushed before being thrown so as to reduce the risk of injury and participants are recommended to use of goggles and gloves. The estimated number of tomatoes used are around 150,000kg. After exactly one hour, the fight ends with the firing of the second shot, announcing the end. 

 

 

In a question of 60 minutes the whole town square is coloured red and rivers of tomato juice flow deep through the streets. Fire Trucks hose down the streets and participants use hoses that locals provide to remove the tomato paste from their bodies and their front doors!. It is popular for participants go to the pool of “los peñones” to wash off. After the cleaning, the village cobblestone streets are pristine clean due to the acidity of the tomato disinfecting and thoroughly cleaning the surfaces.

 



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Europe's Largest Indoor Market
Thursday, July 7, 2022

Markets are no longer what they were. Following in the wake of the culinary revolution forged in restaurants, they too have chosen to reinvent themselves. Madrid and Barcelona have some of the most significant examples of this new trend, although other cities, such as Valencia and Bilbao, are not far behind. We're no longer talking about a place to sell food, but of spaces for gastronomic experiences. Without renouncing their vocation as traditional markets, they now also include restaurants, book stores and even exhibition spaces.

 

 

Ribera Market, located beside the river estuary in Bilbao, is a reference in terms of shopping for the whole of Biscay. One of its many merits is to have been recognized in 1990 as the most complete municipal food market by the Guinness Book of Records, at that time being the largest in terms of traders and stalls and the biggest covered market as regards space in the whole of Europe, with a surface area of 10,000 square metres. Refurbishment work began en mid-2009 aimed at renewing its structure, stalls and services in order to remain a reference for shoppers in the 21st century. Not in vain, life and business have never stopped in this space where more than 60 merchants manage to provide customers with the finest produce at the best price: meat, fruit, shellfish, cheeses, cooked meats, frozen food, mushrooms and fungi...

 

 

A complex of stands and the arcades of the lower levels of the buildings served as a market in the Ribera of Bilbao for centuries, when this area was an urban centre, with City Hall and the Consulate, right in front of San Antón. A metal market pavilion was built at the end of the 19th Century. It was an example of what was called ‘cast-iron architecture’, in use up through the mid 1920s.

After several proposals, in which even covering the Estuary was proposed, an ambitious project was developed to substitute the old market, then quite rundown. The project by Pedro Ispizua, Municipal Technician, was enlarged and improved from the time of its drawing in 1927 up to its construction in 1930. Issues such as monumentality derived from its representational character are combined with functional aspects and hygienic concerns. Ispizua takes on a nearly rationalist language in this project, in accordance with the functional needs of the buildings and construction issues. His plans include similarities with central-European architecture, more or less moving away from earlier somewhat regionalist views.

A voluminous, modern market with clearly monumental and representative ideals was built to replace the old ‘cast-iron’ market from the end of the 19th Century. Concrete replaced cast-iron to form a grand vessel with ample interior space for all of the stands. With its marked personality (volume, form, details…) the building has become an integral part of the image of this historic enclave along the Estuary.



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Ensaladilla de Limón - hardly a salad, but very refreshing
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Ever since I met my wife, she has been addicted to this "refreshing" salad. Now my daughter is a devout follower too. 'Ensaladilla de limon' it is called and it is something of a tradition in the family and the region from where her family are from - La Mancha.  This unusual "salad", if you can really call it a salad, is based on six simple ingredients - Lemon, garlic, paprika, salt, olive oil and cold water. The result of this concoction is surprisingly tasty and moreish. It was a traditional refreshment that the women would take to their husbands during harvest time to calm the relentless heat of the summer. A salad that was designed for dunking bread, with a strong flavour and a strong aroma. I suppose it is the simplest kind of soup/salad you can possibly make. There are variations with tomato and cucumber but the lemon salad is by far the most popular.

It is said to be digestive and commonly believed to have high cleansing properties, so they say back in the village, helping to detoxify the body. Any experts in nutrition will be able to clarify if this is in fact true or not. Either way, it is enjoyable and refreshing when you get the balance right. It is a recipe that you will have tweek and play around with until you reach the balance you like given that these are intense flavours. Obviously, to enjoy this salad you need two prerequisites - you need to like lemon and garlic. 

If you do, crack on and give it a go!

Instructions for two people:


1.  Remove the skin from two lemons with a knife and cut them in half.
2.  Squeeze them with your hand into a bowl and then chop them up into small pieces and add to the bowl.
3.  Finely chop 1 large garlic clove and add to the bowl.
4.  Add half a teaspoon of sweet paprika - Pimenton de la Vera is best. - You may add more to taste if you want but it can get bitter so be careful, best to wait until the end.
5.  Add a sprinkling of salt.
6.  Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil - and then blend everything together with a whisk
7.  Add 1/2 litre of ice-cold water -  add half, and taste and then add the other half. If you feel it is too strong add more water.
8.  You can add more oil or paprika at this point to adjust for your liking.
9. If you feel like it, add a couple of ice cubes to keep it cool.

10. Let it sit for a few minutes to "brew", so to speak.

Alternatives - you can also add (or substitute the garlic with) finely chopped spring onion if you fancy that.

All that is left to do now is get dunking with some fresh crunchy bread!

 



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