This week, I returned from my second trip to the glorious province of Málaga, in Andalucía. With its flavours still flamenco-dancing (sorry…) on my taste buds, I present to you the food of Andalucía – veggie style.
If you’re a veggie eating out in Andalucía, you can be sure of three things. Menus will read like a homage to dead animals, waiters and waitresses will react to your vegetarian requests with confusion, and many of the so-called ‘veggie options’ they suggest will be inexplicably adorned with a tuna garnish. A haven for meat eaters, sure. But veggies? Not so much.
It was OK, though. I was prepared for this. Before my first visit to Andalucía last October, I got my mitts on The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden. If you’ve got a penchant for Spanish cuisine, you need this book in your life. A gastronomical encyclopaedia that leaves no Spanish culinary stone unturned, Roden’s introduction to Andalucía primed me for the meat lover’s paradise I was about to enter. The beautiful, wild sierras which were to form the backdrop for much of our first trip last October? Pig country. And not any old pigs, either. The sierras are the playground of Pata Negra pigs; revered Spanish creatures that feast on sweet acorns in Andalucia’s oak woods before they land on plates as the world-famous jamón ibérico. Friends of ham, you’re very welcome here. As well as Andalucía’s gourmet pigs, Roden also writes fondly of local delicacies such as rabo de toro (oxtail stew) and cordero a la miel (lamb stew with honey), and of extraordinary varieties of seafood and fish thanks to Andalucía’s vast coastline where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean.