The region, split in two by the Ebro River, borders France along the Pyrenees and has an ancient agricultural tradition. It's not surprising that Aragón is home to a broad and delicious selection of foods.
Aragón is one of Spain's most extensive regions and is also one of the least densely populated, with the exception of the capital, Zaragoza. That is precisely one of the reasons that the land, the rural economy and the agri-food sector are so powerful in this region. There are three zones which are very different from one another and they have become a major source of quality food and wine: the area around the Pyrenees, the central part of the region where the fertile Ebro Valley is located, and the southern part of the region, which borders Catalonia to the east and Valencia and Castile-La Mancha to the south; they are full of contrasts, from non-irrigated plains to mountainous areas.
Extra virgin olive oil is one of Aragón's most emblematic products and the Empeltre olive is one of its foremost varieties. One of the notable characteristics of this variety is its dual purpose: in addition to being milled to make oil, this olive is a delicious snack when pickled. It's used in PDO Aceite del Bajo Aragón olive oil, which is also made with other varieties such as Arbequina and Royal. In the province of Zaragoza, at the foothills of the Moncayo mountains, we find another delicious extra virgin olive oil, DO Aceite Sierra del Moncayo, made with Empeltre olives as well as varieties such as Arbequina, Negral, Verdial and Royal.
Aragón is home to countless orchards, with emblematic products such as Barbastro pink tomatoes (large, meaty and delicious), tasty and healthy borage, and a nutritious sweet onion with a unique flavor. The latter has a European quality seal: PDO Cebolla de Fuentes de Ebro.
The region's excellent meat has also set the bar quite high. Cured ham, PDO Jamón de Teruel, is in a class of its own. Grazing is an age-old activity in Aragón and it yields lambs under the PGI Ternasco de Aragón seal, which defends and protects the production of lamb, a meat with historically close ties to the region's gastronomy. As for deli meat, one particular product tends to stand out in local households' pantries: longaniza, a type of sausage with a flavor that is both intense and delicate at the same time.
The Slow Life movement has many followers in Aragón and it has been able to protect several products in danger of disappearing. Two examples are Ballobar capers and Jiloca saffron, which are part of Slow Life International's Ark of Taste.
The people of Aragón also have a notable sweet tooth. Their guirlaches (candied almond sweets) and their famous frutas de Aragón (candied fruit, sometimes dipped in chocolate) are proof of this.A representative selection of wines from Spain must include bottles from those areas of Aragón that are dedicated to quality vine-growing and oenology: DO Somontano, DO Calatayud, DO Campo de Borja, Vino de Pago Aylés and DO Cariñena.
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /@ICEX
Translation: Samara Kamenecka /@ICEX