Traditional Cuisine of Requena and Its Lands.

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The inhabitants of Requena have a deeply ingrained culture of cuisine, one that is tied to our history, our customs, to how we enjoy ourselves. This cuisine provides an added value that fosters a single and common goal across every level: to ensure the highest quality.

The inhabitants of Requena have a deeply ingrained culture of cuisine, one that is tied to our history, our customs, to how we enjoy ourselves. This cuisine provides an added value that fosters a single and common goal across every level: to ensure the highest quality.

In Requena, the production of home-made cold meats (embutidos in Spanish) to be eaten dry or preserved by frying or salting, as is done with pork leg and shoulder and with the cured meats of goats and sheep, speak to our ancient cattle-raising tradition, which endured until the late 17th century before changing over to a grain-based agriculture (wheat and some legumes like vetch and chickpeas), which itself lasted until the mid-19th century.

This provides the basis for the production of flour, used to make bread, bread rolls with lean pork and sardines and traditional stews like gazpacho with bread, rolls, gachamiga (a special kind of porridge), migas ruleras (bread crumbs mixed with different kinds of meat), morteruelo (with pork liver and grated bread) and a porridge made from vetch or chickpea flour, which in the region of Requena is known as cachulí or gachulí.

The Embutidos de Requena label is regulated by the "Embutido de Requena" Protected Designation of Origin Regulating Council, which covers twelve family-run companies, all of them located within the Requena municipal limits.

Vineyards have been grown here since pre-Roman times, becoming the only crop and marketed starting in the mid-19th century.

Nowadays the Utiel-Requena Designation of Origin (DO) is the only one applicable to wines that have been made non-stop for over 2,500 years. Requena is part of the Wine Route that traverses ten municipalities dotted with vineyards, offering you numerous possibilities to enjoy your trip to the region.

Cava has recently gained strong support among producers in Requena, with Requena being the only municipality in the Valencian Community authorised by the Cava DO Council to use the name.

The fertile soil of La Vega and of the lands surrounding Requena, as well as of Hortunas, Casas del Río and some farms in La Albosa, used to supply vegetables, legumes and tubers, which offered a variety of food choices to the people in the region in times gone by. Potatoes, known as criadillas or crillas, were introduced in the early 19th century, and as a result, our bean and chickpea stews have had diced potatoes ever since, along with meats, embutidos and vegetables.

Potatoes are also a key ingredient in the so-called ajo, atascaburras or mazamorro, a food best served on rainy or snowy days, as well as in rin ran, potatoes in broth, with cod or blood sausage, and naturally in fried potatoes with onions or scrambled eggs to make a more substantial meal.

Complementing all this was the importation of rice, which was brought in from the nearby Júcar river, of sardines and cod, also salted and caught in oceans near and far.

Rice, whether in paella or with meat from farmyard animals, has always been present at important celebrations and at animal sacrifices. A favourite is rice with beans, with pig entrails (güeñas), with sausages or ribs made in an orza (glazed clay jar) and having either a soupy or creamy consistency. Soupy rice with chicken or rabbit, baked, stewed, with embutidos and pork or rice with chards with potatoes and snails.

Our beekeeping tradition, first documented in the 15th century by the old brotherhood of San Antón de los Colmeneros (beekeepers), led to the creation of traditional desserts and sweets like aguamiel (honey and pumpkin), arrope (similar to aguamiel), pelotas dulces o de fraile o “bocaillos” (fried balls of bread with other ingredients), eggs with honey, turroncillo, alajú and migas dulces (all traditional honey based sweets).

Other sweets using sugar, almonds, flour, eggs, milk, oil, lard and so on are called melaos, and include magdalenas, mantecados, rolletes de anís, rosigones, almendrados, empanadillas de boniato, cabello de ángel o chocolate, buñuelos, etc. A mainstay in patron saint or religious brotherhood celebrations is Pan Bendito (blessed bread), which is taken to churches or shrines to be blessed and handed out to the faithful.

Preserves of fried embutidos and certain pork meats were kept in orzas with their corresponding oil. In addition to these preserves we must mention salted bacon and pork leg, as well as certain dry embutidos, including perro, salchichón, sobrasada and chorizos, all of which involve the raising and slaughter of pigs.

Fermín Pardo Pardo

Requena City Chronicler

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