Extremadura’s Culinary Delights
The secret’s out! An article by Leni Gillman in The Independent highlights what we’ve known all along – Extremadura is home to some of Spain’s finest ingredients and tastiest cuisine.
In her article, she extols the rich flavour of the jamón produced in Montánchez, where the pigs first graze the acorns on the grassy plains before being slaughtered and turned into ham that’s reputed to be some of the best in the country. The process itself is slow and steady; the legs are buried in Cadiz sea salt to be dried and preserved before being hung for another two years and finally sold. The wait is worth it for the thinly carved red meat, marbled with fat so soft it melts when rubbed between the fingers.
Extremadura is also home to some of Spain’s finest cheese. In addition to the National Cheese Festival which takes place every year in Trujillo, the region itself produces goat and sheep’s milk cheeses. The Torta del Casar, once made by shepherds and now controlled by EU regulations, is particularly treasured by Spanish foodies for its bitter and salty overtones and its almost melted consistency.
Another Extremadura specialty is pimentón, the smoky paprika used in many Spanish dishes and made by the monks of Guadalupe ever since the Conquistadors brought them back from the Americas. These flavours are all balanced with a glass of wine from the region. A Roman legacy, the stifling heat makes for full and fruity red wines, best enjoyed on a warm terrace with a large plate of ham and cheese.
For those who travel on their stomachs, and even for those who don’t, this homeland of the Spanish conquistadors is ripe for discovery. As Gillman writes, “Its entwined cultures of history and gastronomy are worth savouring for what they reveal of one of Spain’s least familiar yet most enthralling regions.”