La Rioja, A Culinary Mix
La Rioja is situated on the Camino de Santiago route. It is a land of travellers and exchange, where relationships are formed and culture and customs interchanged. All this is reflected in its gastronomy which, apart from providing the traveller with the opportunity to taste top quality wines, has also been very much influenced by its neighbouring regions, adapting the dishes with that touch of exquisite simplicity so typical from this area.
La Rioja cuisine is simple and uses the top quality products found in the region. The popular agricultural tradition of the area provides the cuisine with a great variety of local vegetables and pulses: peppers, garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, chard, borage... What visitor to La Rioja can resist tasting its great stews, made with fava beans or "caparrón" beans. These dishes are unique and use beans which have not been completely dried. As a result, the beans conserve their natural flavour and absorb the flavour of the quail or spicy sausage with which they are cooked. The pig, a symbol of Christian culture, has always lived side by side with the people of La Rioja, either as wild or as farm animals. The Muslim presence in mainland Spain has left its mark on this region, the Riojans having a great taste for lamb. Both types of meat are extremely popular, although the fish dishes put up a fierce competition. These are prepared using bonito, cod, hake, red bream and mackerel. Sweet black pudding and Riojan chorizo are just a couple of examples of the produce prepared in the mountains.
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