lunes, 18 de febrero de 2013

Enjoy traditional food in Benidorm

Benidorm is known for its multiculturalism. Different nationalities share its streets, but it still keeps its traditional gastronomy.

Benidorm is a modern and cosmopolitan town. Considering that it is the tourism capital in the eastern coast of Spain, it is not strange that you can find a wide variety of cultures and nationalities that you can enjoy in your holidays in Benidorm.

Thanks to this city's open-minded relationship with other cultures, we can find nearly all national or international kind of food in any of Benidorm hotel or restaurant. Considering this you can either enjoy an excellent Asturian stew, a nice Japanese sushi or the typical English breakfast with bacon and eggs.

But, what could you eat in Benidorm before it became a touristic town?

Benidorm traditional gastronomy
Benidorm is placed in a privilege area considering both its geographic and its 'geogastronomic' location. The Mediterranean littoral is the cradle for the well known Mediterranean gastronomy.

As you can find in many of the towns and cities bathed by the Mediterranean waters, the traditional gastronomy is a healthy mixture of vegetables and meat or fish from the area. As many other different localities, Benidorm has its 'typical dishes' that were its gastronomic base when this town was only a small fishermen village; and what did they eat at the time?

Benidorm typical dishes
You can find different places to enjoy this town's typical old dishes. In between the most well known dishes we can point out these ones:

Rice with red mullets and pumpkin
Made with rice, fish and vegetables, this is one Benidorm typical dish.
This tasteful stew is made with the fish called red mullet, pumpkin and green beans. As we can find in many different rice dishes from this area, it is prepared with lightly fried garlic and some spices that will give this dish a special touch.

Rice with beans and turnips
Known as well as 'Arròs amb fesols i naps'. This succulent rice is made with soggy rice, meat broth and vegetables and it is perfect for a cold winter day. In this case the rice is prepared with pork pieces (ossobuco, feet and backbone) and 'blanquets', a typical sausage from the area. We mix everything up with white beans, turnips and cardoons.

Rice with white anchovies and spinaches
It is a typical kind of rice, not only from Benidorm; you can find it in nearly all of La Marina regions. The rice with white anchovies and spinaches is dry rice, as the one in paella. Its main ingredients are spinaches, white anchovies and delicious lightly fried ñora peppers, garlic and parsley.

Filled 'coca' and 'coca a la calda'
They are typical Roman recipes. Salty 'cocas' are one of the delicious traditional dishes you can taste in Benidorm. Their dough is similar to the one you prepare for bread, with round shape if they are for one person or with square shape if it is a family one. You can fill this salty dough with different food and that will create the different types of cocas, for example: tomatoes, roasted pepper, tuna and eggs filling or sausages and black puddings filling are the more typical ones in Benidorm.

Saint Blas bun
They are perfect for the sweet-tooth. This Saint Blas bun is one of the typical sweets form the Benidorm gastronomy. These buns have Arabic origin and they are prepared with almonds and cinnamon. They are traditionally made during the winter months, mainly in Saint Blas festivity.

There are loads of restaurants in Benidorm where you can try these typical dishes. Once you know their names, you just have to look for them and enjoy!

What about you? Have you tried any of these delicious dishes during your holidays in Benidorm?

viernes, 8 de febrero de 2013

The oldest carnivals in Spain.

Carnival festivals have a long tradition in Spain as we can confirm by the oldest carnivals in the country.

Carnival festivals have their starting point in the pagan celebrations that took place for the winter ending before the restrictive Lent period. Their main characteristic was that everything was allowed and the fancy dress was the way to remain anonymous through their lack of self-control with food, drink and enjoyment.

There are plenty of places in Spain were you can enjoy the carnival celebrations. Although they were forbidden during the Francoist dictatorship, they came back strong at the beginning of the 80´s.

Some of these carnival festivals have such an old tradition that there are no records of when they started.

The oldest carnivals in Spain
Ciudad Rodrigo carnival (Salamanca)
Known as well as The Bull Carnival, it is considered as the oldest carnival in Spain. This carnival joins two of the main Spanish traditions, the bull-fighting one and the carnivals with masks and fancy dresses.
One of the most awaited events of this carnival is the running of bulls on horse, in which bulls are taken by expert horse riders from the country side into town. Runnings of the bulls and bull-fightings get mixed up with Charanga bands and comparsa's music all around the Ciudad Rodrigo streets.

Villarobledo carnival (Albacete)
It is considered one of the National Tourist Interest Festivals. Although it is not as ancient as the Ciudad Rodrigo one, the Villarobledo carnival dates from the medieval era.
This is a very popular and participative carnival. People say that it is 'the only 10 days long carnival in the world that lasts 11' this is because officially these festivals should last for 10 days, but unofficially they always take one day more.
Some of its more characteristic events are for example the carnival Jumble Sale, the Manchegan Pride Night or the Wedding Competition where groups of minimum 20 contestants parody some famous people or royalty's weddings.

Tarragona carnival (Catalonia)
This carnival keeps many of the elements it had centuries ago. It also dates from the medieval period and it is believed that it began with the Saturn festivals in the Roman era.
The Carnestoltes king and the Concubina queen are the most well-known characters of this carnival and all the events are linked through their invented story.
The gastronomy and the fireworks are traditionally related with this carnival.

Bielsa carnival (Huesca)
This carnival was so deeply-rooted that it even survived through the banning of the Francoist dictatorship era.

All the festivals are related with some typical characters and normally the fancy dresses represent them. The 'Trangas', dressed up with the skin and horns of a billy-goat, go round frightening all the children; the 'Madamas', dressed in white combine with silk, brocades and colourful ribbons represent the marriageable ladies; the 'Amonato', a person dress up as a mourning old woman with a man on her back, etc.

How to enjoy carnivals
As it is a very popular and street festival, it is not necessary to drive to enjoy a 100% of any of the carnivals that are celebrated in Spain. According to your destination it is recommended to get in some kind of public t
The transport network betters its services to the main carnival destinations according to the large amount of public.

Once you have chosen your destination, it is advisable to make a reservation for accommodation in the same place or the closest to where all the main events are taking place, so you will be able to enjoy the festival in all its splendour. Making a previous reservation in a hotel in Benidorm, Madrid, Alicante or Tenerife will let you get the most of the popular essence of these festivals.

Finally, do not forget to enjoy the typical gastronomic delicious dishes for this date, as you will do in any Spanish festival.

Don Pancho
Hotel en Benidorm