Many of you may know Málaga as the great sunny holiday destination that so many visit. There is much more to Málaga than just beach, sun and sangría – a gastronomy worth mentioning. Here’s a run through of 10 things about Málaga’s gastronomy that may be of your interest:
1. Geographical location, the great advantage
Located on the peninsular south and on the Mediterranean, Málaga is known for its warm, fairly humid summers, and mild winters and with sun almost all year around. That only adds positively in microclimate in mountainous regions and plateaus, allowing flora to grow beautifully and fauna to live happily.
2. Types of soil and land
Apart from the obvious tourism, Málaga offers and makes a wide range of agricultural products. From soil and land that varies from mountains, meadows, beaches, salt ponds… you can find subtropical fruits to olives and almonds (rainfed crops). It is the remarkable fertility of the valleys in the many mountains of Málaga, where the more citrus trees grow blissfully. During the winter months, chestnut and cherry orchards grow galore.
Perhaps the most important cattle that grows in Málaga region are cerdo ibérico (iberian pigs) that breed and live in a semi-free area of Serranía de Ronda and the Málaga goat, who’s milk is used in delicious queso de cabra (goat’s cheese).
3. Unique Málaga products
Olives (aceitunas in Spanish) grow beautifully in Málaga province and is hence know for it’s agricultural products in the region. The area grows Manzanilla olive is perhaps one of the best known Spanish olives. Often pitted and stuffed with anchoas (anchovies), pimentos (peppers) or ajo (garlic), this is the olive most often used in martinis cocktails.
Another type of olive that grows in Málaga is Verdial, a large dark olive with a potent flavour, perfect for olive lovers who like some spice. And last, but not least, the Aloreña olive. This olive is fresh and light green in color and tastes of green fruit and grass. When harvested at the correct degree of ripeness, these olives are split and then sweetened and seasoned with thyme, fennel, garlic and pepper. Truly delicious!
A purple carrot called ‘Morá’ (short for morado, which means purple in Spanish) is also grown in Málaga, another peculiar agricultural product.
In recent years, Málaga has achieved a sustainable production of agricultural and organic supplies. Although it may not have increased very much in the last few years, the development of organic products has not gone unnoticed. Products such as iberian hams, extra virgin olive oils, wine (both sweet and flavorsome), preserves and jams and, as previously mentioned, goats cheese.
5. Foods that make you drool
Andalucía’s heritage is rich with history, specially in food and sweets, that have barely changed over the centuries.
Typical Málagueñan dishes is el gazpachuelo (a typical fisherman’s dish, consisting of fish stock, a type of mayonnaise, garlic, egg yolk and olive oil). Although it is consumed hot, it owes its name to the fact that it contains the four basic ingredients of gazpacho (the well known cold soup), bread, garlic, oil and water.
Other dishes such as almejas a la malagueña (clams in a Málagueñan white wine) and gambas de Málaga (Malagueñan prawns, freshly chargrilled in sea salt).
Berenjenas fritas con miel de caña is another favourite, frittered aubergine slices with molasses (a deep thick rich honey cane syrup), it’s scrumptiously good!
Then there’s Borrachuelos, the traditional festive sweet (and frittered) dessert with a name that comes from the Spanish word ‘borracho’, meaning drunk, in reference to the alcohol in the recipe. These are popular in Christmas season.
6. Inspiration from top chefs
With high respect to traditional Málagueñan food and local ingredients, Málaga has gained reputation for it’s growing high class cuisine. It would be a mistake to not mention names linked to the prestigious Michelin stars, such as chefs Dani García, Diego del Río, José Marcos Granda, Carlos García, impressed and inspired much of Málaga’s developing haute cuisine.
Chef Amador Fernández van Vlijmen, Amador Restaurant, Malaga.
7. Land of the wines
Málaga has one historic wine which holds the city’s name as title, Vino de Málaga (Málaga wine). A sweet wine, often made from Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez grapes. Do not be mistaken, Málaga also produces reds, white, rosé and even sparkling wines that proudly made from the Sierras de Málaga.
It has been said that Málaga grapes were once considered to make spiritual drinks as famous as Aguardiente de Ojén, a Málagueñan anís spirit drink that originates from Ojén, a small town that sits in the mountains behind Marbella.
8. Málaga’s products of origin
Currently, many residents have products protected ‘designations of origin’ (DOP), as in the case of wines and raisins (DOP Málaga and Sierras de Málaga) or table olives (DOP Aloreña Malaga). What also have this status are the Olive oil of Antequera and chirimoya of Costa Tropical.
9. Málaga’s brand, ‘Taste of Málaga’
This brand was created with aim to protect and promote handmade, local and culinary products by marketing them inside and outside the province of Málaga, with utmost respect to culinary traditions.
The brand has been working Charter Malacitana since 2007, promoting not only the consumption of local products but also its distribution of food sovereignty, values associated with sustainable consumption, paper gastronomy in public education, among other principles. It’s all for a good cause that aims to maintain Málaga’s authenticity and help public sectors whilst doing so.
The most common local ingredient and dish in Málaga, specially in summer months would have to be sardines, locally known as espeto. These are grilled in a wooden boat outside chiringuitos, the Spanish name for beach bars and restaurants.
10. Celebrating Málaga’s gastronomy
Every weekend (every night in summer time) there is a party in Málaga. Lots of people and plenty of tapas bar, all full full full. Moreover, the great quality of recipes and local products has, in the recent years, got many towns and villages of Málaga province to host culinary events promoting and praising their produce.
Some pay homage to dishes, such as Day of Ajoblanco (day of the [white] garlic) or Sopa Mondeña (thick soup from town of Monda, with plenty of vegetables, legumes and flavor).
Others pay tribute to vintage sherry wines in grape harvest celebrations, in places such as Mollina (Málaga), and Manilva (Málaga), both celebrations held in the month of September, the most festive month for wine. In July, town of Cómpeta hosts ‘night of wine’ celebration, an event considered of tourist interest.
There are celebrations for fruits and vegetables such as the Morá Carrot, Nísperos (medlars), Miel de caña (thick honey cane syrup) and Pasas (raisins).
If you are interested to visit a ecological food market, or any other market,
click here to see listing of all weekly markets in Málaga area.