A compact cheese, made from raw or pasteurised milk from Manchega breed sheep. It is cylindrical in shape and weighs and average of 3 kg / 6.6 lb. It is ripened for a minimum of 60 days, but very sharp and mature varieties area also commercialised. It is the most popular cheese in Spain, and was even mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) in Don Quixote. It is the most well known of the Spanish cheeses abroad.
This is a variety of olive which is extensively present in upper Extremadura. Its fruit is large-sized, with a low fat yield. Nonetheless, it produces very stable aromatic oils.
This variety is well-known as a table olive, although its intense flavour has made it progressively more popular in making monovarietal oils. It is widely cultivated in Andalusia.
Name given to an isolated country house, farmhouse or manor in Catalonia.
A typical Christmas sweet made from peeled and ground raw almonds, kneaded with sugar, which is usually shaped to form small figures. The most famous marzipan is made in Toledo, and its production is protected by a Protected Geographic Indication (PGI). This city has a long history of marzipan making, although its origin is unclear. According to some, marzipan was created by the Arabs: the word comes from 'mahsaban', which is applied to all types of sweets made from almonds and other dried fruits and nuts. Others believe that it was invented by the nuns of Toledo when the city was besieged by the Arabs: the only ingredients available were almonds and sugar, so the nuns decided to grind these into a paste with a mallet and bake the paste in the oven – hence, the name pan de maza (mallet bread), and later, mazapán. In any case, by 1613 Gaspar de Atienza and other confectioners had associated to form a guild to regulate the preparation of marzipan. Marzipan has also been made in La Rioja since 1870 - the renowned Soto de Cameros marzipan.
Native Spanish sheep breed producing small amounts of milk of extraordinary quality. The Merina breed has been the most widespread in the world since the suppression of the Mesta (an organisation protecting sheep farmers and shepherds) in 18th century, thereby allowing the exportation of these animals. It may be said that the Merina breed sustained the wealth of Spain for centuries, due to the unsurpassable quality of its wool. Today, half of the Merina sheep population in Spain is concentrated in Extremadura, where it is raised for meat (PDO Cordero de Extremadura) and milk. Although its milk production is quite small, its high protein and fat content makes it an essential ingredient in the preparation of cheese of exceptional quality, such as La Serena or Torta del Casar cheeses (see definitions).
Typical establishment, generally with rustic style decor, serving tapas and homemade meals. Usually larger than taverns, in the past mesones also served as lodgings for travellers and their mounts, and therefore generally included stabling facilities.
Meaning, literally, ‘crumbs’, migas is a typical dish of central Spain, where it is normally associated with shepherd cooking. Migas are the result of crumbling day-old bread, moistened with water and then gently simmered with oil or lard and a variety of sweet or savory accompaniments. Migas de pastor - or shepherd migas-, are made with little more than oil, bread, garlic and maybe a little chorizo and a pepper, whereas migas de matanza would have an assortment of pork cuttings and sausages. Migas con chocolate, on the sweet side, are made with chocolate and milk, and are served as a dessert. Savoury migas are generally served with fried eggs and, occasionally, and when in season, grapes.
A sauce typical of the Canary Islands, used to accompany all types of dishes. Mojo is based on olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cumin and salt (at times bread crumbs may be added for thickening, or water or broth for lightening); all of which is crushed and mixed with a variety of ingredients, depending on the type of mojo preferred. The most popular are mojo picón (spicy), made with hot red peppers and paprika; and mojo verde (with coriander and green pepper). Mojos may also be made with roasted tomatoes, parsley, cheese, wine or lard, and there is even a sweet mojo (made with sugar).
Sweet pastry typical of Catalonia and the Levant area, generally decorated with hard-boiled eggs. Its name comes from the Arabic word munna (gift): in Catalonia, they are given by godparents to their nieces and nephews up until they make their first communion; in the Valencia region, grandparents give them to their grandchildren and uncles and aunts to their nieces and nephews. The egg symbolises the resurrection of Christ; the Mona de Pascua is usually eaten on Easter Monday, at open-air, family picnics. Although there are many variations, the basic ingredients are flour, eggs and sugar; cinnamon and grated lemon rind are also added. If the sweet is shaped as a round cake, the hard-boiled egg is placed in the centre; if it doughnut-shaped, various eggs are placed around the circle: then it is baked in the oven.
Montanera is the period in which Ibérico pigs are allowed to roam freely in the dehesa (a Mediterranean type of holm oak or cork forest) eating acorns and wild grass before being sacrificed. During the montanera period (which lasts roughly three months), an Ibérico pig can double its size, from 90 kg / 198.4 lb to 180 kg / 396.8 lb. The massive amount of land and of acorns necessary for an Ibérico pig to reach this weight - apart from other factors such as the age of the pig (Ibérico pigs have to be two years old before going through the montanera, whereas white breeds are fully productive and can be sacrificed as young as six months old) are part of the reason for the high price fetched by Ibérico de bellota products, which are quite expensive to produce.
Compact cheese made from raw or pasteurised goat’s milk in a small cheese dairy in the Tiétar Valley (Ávila, Castile-León). This is a modern cheese, created by a single man, Rafael Báez, who began producing it in 1982. Today the cheese has won international prestige for its originality. It is tubular, weighing between 1.5 kg / 3.3 lb and 3 kg / 6.6 lb, and its exterior is totally covered in mould.
A type of black sausage made from cooked pigs blood, seasoned with spices and onions. Depending on the region, other ingredients, such as rice, pine nuts, potatoes, bread or pumpkin, may be added to the mixture. When made in Asturias, it may even be smoked. Practically all the areas of Spain have their own particular version of morcilla. It can be eaten fresh, boiled or fried, as an aperitif or as part of a cocido (a chickpea stew). Morcilla can also be eaten loose, sautéed and served on a slice of bread, or as a paté (this dish is called morcilla en caldera in the area around Úbeda, Jaén, Andalusia).
Typical dish from Castile-La Mancha. It is elaborated with pig liver, breadcrumbs, spices and (optionally but usually) other meats such as rabbit, hare, partridge, pork cuts or chicken. The meat is boiled in a little salt water until very soft, then boned and chopped into small pieces. This meat is then cooked again in the remaining stock with some clove, garlic and pimentón, before adding the breadcrumbs. The result is then mashed into a rough paste in a pestle (mortero, in Spanish, hence the name).