I’ve been in Cadiz province for 7 days now and every night I arrive back at the homestead too tired (or could that be lazy?) to file a few notes. Brief background: I’ve posted innumerable reports on The Late, belated CH, only to have them vanish into the ether. I’m a well-traveled person in general and have a fondness for Spain and, of course, for its people and its food. More (relatively) recent food-related trips have been to Asturias, to the Lamb heartland around Pedraza and Sepulveda, Segovia (on one trip) and the other, more recent, to Campospero, Rua, Burgos–with a base for part of the lamb fests at ABADIA LA RETUERTA (good first-night drive from Barajas if you can deal with the jet lag) and up to the Basque country (be still my heart…Getaria, Donostia, rural lands) with a dip into Leon near Astorga for steak that some have dubbed the world’s finest. (surely the fanatics among us have read all about EL CAPRICHO and that is not today’s topic!)
My most recent (recent is a loose term, given COVID and several medical issues) trips to Spain have included a few weeks (different trips) in Sevilla. These last have included one that included a week in Madrid and another a week in Sevilla, and another a few years later, solo all the way, that began with a week in Sevilla and about 6 nights in Cadiz (Parador) with a long day trip ( by taxi) to Barbate and Zahara. If you do not know those 2 names, you either have some reading to do if you love Spain,or you might want to skip the rest of this, or at least tonght’s portion.
If I have not confused you totally by now, I have just spent 3 nights early March in Jerez de la Frontera and am writing this from an inn in the low hills outside the white hill town of Vejer de la Frontera, which I reached by rental car from Jerez after spending the first 3 nights car-less which is THE way to pass the time in the city of Jerez.
If you are perplexed by the appendage “de la Frontera” attached to the end of many southern Spanish locations, especially in the nation’s largest region, that of Andalucia, you may want to look this up or perhaps more informed minds than my own can offer a succinct explanation. Some (very few) times, this may leave you confused as there are, for example, a Zahara de la Sierra and a Zahara de los Atunes. This being a food-centric board, the appendage “of the tunas” may lead you to believe, rightly so, that here we will be focusing on, and visiting, the Zahara “of the Tunas.”
If you are at all interested in Spanish and Arabic (and even Phoenician)n food history and fishing in general, you may want to read up on the almadraba method which is a means for netting fattened tuna in the narrow straits near Gibraltar off the coasts of a very few Spanish towns over a very short period in spring.
And you can read up and let us know how the Spanish almadraba relates to the mattanza “killing fields” of Sicily, in and near the western town of Mazzara del Vallo and which to me, sounds like a more competitive and testosterone-fueled fish hunt that takes place in late spring/early summer and is far beyond the scope of this-already-too-long report. (Never fear, yours truly is keen to visit Sicily in May and will welcome any and all food comments or tips…not necessarily relating to tuna)
But for anyone who does not have Sicily in their plans, trust me when I say that one might do a thesis/article, etc etc, and actually get it read by spending some time in the somewhat aesthetically unappealing coastal town of Barbate, whose legend has been stretched from Tsukiji to Madrid and even to this native Manhattan person who one day hopes to finish this report. (Barbate was a favorite of Franco but his name was stripped from the official town name in 1998)
Sorry this is an interesting read about Barbate and Japanese visitors; if you can negotiate your way around the firewall, worth reading…
I am going to post this now and return soon, in order to not risk losing what I’ve written, which often happens to me, or happened on CH…
I am absolutely astounded by how much I am learning on this solo trip…I was nervous about renting a car in Europe (me, who hates to drive in the best of times. ) Guess what…the driving has been a joy, and the opportunity to meet and talk to locals about food is so much greater than when one is accompanied by another of his or her own nationality). From the overnight from the US to MAd, to the MAd-XRZ short flight…it seemed as if everyone wanted to talk food…where was the best, did I know about this or that, and on and on…wow…my notebook was crammed before I stumbled down the open-air staircase of Iberia’s just-landed short haul from MAD.