Food & cuisine from Central Spain
Also known as the Meseta region, food in Central Spain is a blend of Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions producing a rustic style of cooking full of woodland flavours.
Dishes range from simple broths such as warm garlic soup (sopas de ajo) to more complex winter dishes like meat and chickpea stew (cocido madrileno). Also, there are fine hams, cheeses and some of the best sausages in Spain.
This are of Spain is well known for its roasted meats such as lamb, veal or suckling pig. Then there is young goat and other meats that are slowly roasted in wood ovens to give them an especially delicious texture and taste.
The Manchegos have created interesting ways of roasting succulent meat, producing numerous recipes for cooking game including the delicious gazpacho manchego (a stew of partridge, hare, rabbit and pheasant).
Food from Extremadura
The region of Extremadura produces some of the finest iberico pork and cheese products in Spain (Translated literally extremadura means 'extremely hard'.
Located in central Spain and named due to its extremely hard weather conditions). The foods are reminiscent of that described in 'Don Quixote', produced with the use of safron, honey, and manchego cheese.
The Castilla la Mancha region produces a range of fine foods and drink including arguably one of Spain's best and most recognised cheeses. Manchego cheese is delicous when served thinly sliced and laid over a bed of Serrano ham.
Toledo is renowned for its yemas (egg yolk sweets) and marzipans. Madrid for its chocolate con churros. Believe it or not, it is said that the best fisherman's wharf in the country is in Madrid, in the dead centre of the Iberian Peninsula where pristine fish and shellfish arrive from Mediterranean and Atlantic ports and whisked away overnight to satisfy the Spanish capital's boundless hunger for seafood.
The cool Mediterranean climate, semi-arid conditions and high altitude of central Spain provide the perfect environment for growing olive trees. On the slopes of the Sierras (Montes de Toledo, Sierra de Alcaraz, La Alcarria) the trees are protected from the cold and the olive oil from this region has been appreciated for its quality and wonderful taste for centuries with the cultivation of the first olive trees dating back to the 12th Century.
Az-zafaran - Saffron
We must also again thank the Moors for one of Spain's most precious food products. It was the Moors who brought with them the spice az-zafaran over a thousand years ago. Today over 70% of the world's production of saffron is grown on the high Castilian plateau known as La Mancha.
Every October the crocus flowers open at night and the people from Toledo to Albacete drop everything to rush to the fields at dawn. The opening of the crocus flower creates a breathtaking purple blanket as far as the eye can see and all the saffron crocuses must be gathered before dusk or they are known to lose their flavour.