Interview with Heritage Cities Chef: Cuenca
Cultural and natural heritage come together perfectly in one city: Cuenca, outstanding for its churches, monasteries, the Hanging Houses, its unique light and landscapes. The gastronomy there has been influenced by centuries of culture and tradition.
Mercedes Torres. Casas Colgadas and Figón del Huécar (Figón de Pedro) Restaurants
Are there traces of Moorish influence in any Cuenca dishes, as a result of the culture that once impregnated the city?
Yes, especially in the sweets. One example is alajú - a dessert with Moorish origin, similar to the traditional soft “turrón”. It was made with honey and walnuts, although nowadays it tends to made with almonds. Pestiños (honey-coated fritters) are another example of the legacy of Moorish culture in the region. Like many other sweets produced here in Cuenca, honey is a fundamental ingredient.
Does Cuenca’s surrounding countryside influence the gastronomy of the city?
Of course. It influences the city of Cuenca and all the villages in the region. The geographical surroundings and climate affect the composition of dishes. The main ingredients vary according to the different seasons. Spring-summer dishes include seasonal and garden produce, while in winter there are heavier dishes influenced by livestock culture. Furthermore, there are other dishes linked to specific feasts, such as cod-based recipes that are usually eaten in Lent.
Which products are most common in Cuenca cuisine?
Cuenca, along with its surrounding countryside and mountains, is a centre for game and lamb and home to a wealth of wild mushrooms. If we had to mention some “star” ingredients, they would be local purple garlic, honey, olive oil and wine; also game such as venison, boar and smaller game animals. Also products from the local rivers, such as salmon trout and crayfish, along with different wild mushroom varieties like Boletus edulis, oyster mushroom, amanita, gomphus, morel, blewitt and milk cap.
At the same time, Cuenca has recipes that are unique in their cooking method. The countryside and mountains of Cuenca are home to a wealth of aromatic herbs that play an important role in many local dishes.
If a tourist asks you what he/she should try while visiting Cuenca, what dishes would you recommend?
Cheese, “ajoarriero”(cold casserole with cod, garlic and olive oil, served as a starter), “morteruelo” (dense paste made with rabbit, hare, partridge, pig’s liver, ham and spices, served as a starter in winter), “pisto manchego” (made with vegetables and served hot), “mojete” (cold salad with peppers, cod and garlic), “zarajo” (strips of marinated baby lamb tripe wound around vine shoots), soused partridge salad and “caldereta” (lamb stew). Other vital dishes not to be missed are roast baby lamb or suckling pig, as well as game (venison, boar and partridge) in casseroles.
For 6 people: 1/2 kg cod, 1/2 kg potato, 1 egg yolk, 100 gr breadcrumbs, 4 cloves garlic, two hard-boiled eggs and 3/4 l of olive oil.
Place the cod (if salted) to soak for 12 hours, changing the water at intervals. Boil the cod, potatoes and egg. Make a purée with the cooking stock and potatoes. De-bone the cod then cut into small pieces, along with the eggs and parsley. Crush garlic in a mortar, then place in a bowl with the egg yolk, beating with a spatula. Add the breadcrumbs and the potato purée. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Next, add the oil little by little while beating. Then add the cod and chopped eggs. The dish is ready to serve.
Serve with chopped parsley and small pieces of toast.
Mercedes Torres has been running the Casas Colgadas Restaurant since 1987 and the Figón del Huécar Restaurant (Figón de Pedro), for the last six years. Both restaurants have received national and international awards. She is the daughter of Pedro Torres, a prestigious restaurateur from Cuenca, who played a leading role in recovering the region’s traditional cuisine. Besides founding Figón de Pedro, he also promoted the establishment of the Castile-La Mancha Academy of Gastronomy.
全ての著作権は保護されています。 Turespaña / Segittur © 2013
サイトの管理者: Sociedad Estatal para la Gestión de la Innovación y las Tecnologías Turísticas, S.A. (SEGITTUR)