During the pilgrimage you will undoubtedly run up an appetite to sample the most typical products to be found along the route. Here you will find those which should not be missed. They can be carried in your suitcase to remind you of your journey or given to those unable to accompany you to allow them to enjoy your journey for a moment.
A 10/10 GASTRONOMY
In this neck of the woods, you'll find typical dishes such as migas ruleras, stews and tartera, a lamb and potato roast accompanied by an aioli sauce. You'll also find an ample variety of typical rice dishes with rabbit, chicken, chickpeas, snails or cod. In terms of confectionary, it would be a real shame if you left without trying alfajor or the incredibly famous yemas -egg-yolk based sweets made with sugar, and smothered in caramel or chocolate. Even in the most holy of cities there's still room for temptation - they are just scrumptious! To digest all this food, guests traditionally try the house drinks such as la mistela and the licor café.
GASTRONOMY AND TRADITION
The Handicrafts Market of Las Cuatro Plazas takes places on the second Sunday of each month, except for in June, July and August, where the best craftsmen of the region come together to offer various products from forge and esparto grass tools to wooden objects, cold meat bread, sweets, pottery, carpets, cheeses and crafts. Here it is possible to see live artisan demonstrations, try typical products and take part in the activities and entertainment.
TO ONE'S HEART'S CONTENT
Going from one terrace to another, from one square to another, walking about the streets and enjoying life in the open air is one of the best ways of blending in with the Murcian atmosphere. The good climate, together with cultural blending, have made Murcian people learn how to enjoy the hubbub to the full. Having some 'cañicas' -small draft beers- while chitchatting is here a real pleasure. If you add a couple of typical tapas from the region, we're talking about luxury. You won't be able to say 'no' to marineras, caballitos, matrimonios or pasteles de carne. Other typical dishes are michirones, Murcian salad, pisto and even some raw broad beans from the huerta with dried and salted bonito or some tomato slices. If you have a sweet tooth, try the paparajotes: lemon tree leaves coated in a dough made of flour, eggs, milk and grated lemon peel, which are fried and then dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Having them with a little glass of sweet wine is an authentic Murcian pleasure. But don't let anybody kid you: you DON'T have to eat the leaves.
PASTRIES AND CAKES... BUT NOT AS YOU'D EXPECT
For those with savoury rather than sweet tooth, don't worry, we have many more temptations that will keep you finger licking right up until you get back home. Pastel de carne (meat cake) is made from puff pastry, meat, chorizo, hard-boiled egg and spices, and is considered to be the typical delicacy of our region. Its lid, which consists of concentric circles of puff pastry, resembles a felled tree trunk revealing its history within; perhaps you will be able to find the recipe by reading between its lines. Okay, we can't deny pasties are commonly known worldwide, not just in our region, but here we add our own special touch - pepper, tomato, hard-boiled egg and tuna: a well-rounded recipe, much like its shape. Pastel de Cierva (a typical pastry from Mar Menor), named after the inventor of the autogiro, is a mix of sweet and savoury flavours, made even more delicious with the addition of chicken. Continuing on with the theme of sweet and savoury, try our Salteadores or Exploradores: puff pastries filled with veal and dipped in sugar. Until you try it, you won't understand just how delicious this flavour combination really is.
CRÈME DE LA CRÈME
The cuisine of Cehegín makes it worth a visit. Its most typical dishes are both wholesome and delicious, especially the "empedrao" (rice with cod, beans, garlic and tomato), "chamorro" (dough with saffron and meat), "migas" (flour crumbs with pork or fish), "potaje" (sauté with Swiss chard), "olla de matanza" (pork stew with chickpea and potatoes), and different rice dishes. The locals are especially proud of the Alcuza pear tree -also known as Cehegín pear tree- a winter fruit with particular taste and scent, which make it unique. If you have a sweet tooth, the typical sweets, such as "garrapiñadas" (caramel-coated almonds), "alfajor" (almond pastry) and "picardías" (hazelnut covered with caramelised sugar) will satisfy your appetite. And don't forget that the best way to get to know this world is to make a gastronomic tour or take part in tastings at craft markets.
The first rice worldwide to obtain the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) affiliation has been traditionally cultivated for centuries, and irrigated with clean fresh water free from chemical insecticides. The Bomba or Balín varieties, which come in both wholegrain and white forms, are so fantastic to cook with that, before throwing it at the newlyweds, just think what a crime it would be to waste it!
If you're on a diet or are planning to start one, it might be better to skip this section .Some people brand our sweet snacks as sinful or a naughty habit because they truly are a temptation. Typical of the entire region, our most famous desserts are Borrachos de Ojós, sponge cakes soaked in syrup and local wine. Literally translating as 'tipsy', don't worry, you won't need to hold back in moderation. When we speak of horns, there are those of the Vikings and those made from meringue. While we aren't sure how the first ones would taste, we do know that the second ones would make even the god Thor shiver with pleasure. Libricos, typical desserts from Yecla, are wafer sheets stuck together with honey as if they were books, a real bestseller. In Totana, Santiaguitos have become the hallmark of this town. Made with sliced almonds, butter, sugar and candied orange, even the box they are presented in looks good enough to eat! If you visit Jumilla, get your hands on Sequillos: sweets made with flour, egg and oil, decorated with meringue and hardened sugar. Naturally, simply reading a description like this doesn't do justice to their taste, so you'd better stop reading and take a bite. Yemas, from Caravaca de la Cruz, both covered with caramel or chocolate, have a monastic origin. These desserts, made from a base of sugar and egg yolk, delight children and adults alike; the truth is that there have always been amazing bakers living in the convents. If you visit Murcia at Easter to see our religious processions, you will pleasantly surprised to find that the members of the procession distribute typical sweets with biblical verses written on the packaging. You can also find these in sweet shops throughout the year; it is a gastronomic and reading souvenir, all in one!
Jams and chutneys, besides being extremely practical, are delicious. Disagree? You have obviously not yet tried these cravings in a jar. Delight yourself with classic preserves or branch out with others such as courgette, pepper, onion, tomato, or even orange blossom or jasmine petals. Created naturally using the best produce from our region, they contain no added preservatives or colourings.
WINES OF DENOMINATION OF ORIGIN (PDO)
Because our wines just love dressing up their labels, we not only have three wines with PDO affiliation, but also other awards that praise the quality of each and every one of them. There's a wide range of possibilities to choose from, each one leaving you with a lasting impression. Three main wines are produced in the Bullas municipality: white, rosé and red. Their quality is such that it is said the god Baco is thinking of moving to the area! In Jumilla, a variety of ten wines are produced: four red, two rosé, two light red, one white and another natural sweet wine; if you try to taste them all, you'll be there til' the cows come home! In Yecla, they produce seven wines for seven brothers... or was that the film? Drop everything, try these seven varieties, and take your hat off to them. But don't forget that there is life outside of PDO... and great wines too. A good example of this is the wine of El Campo de Cartagena, wines whose taste, colour and aroma are so wonderful that they have no reason to envy the produce of their neighbours. For us their sweet wine is love at first sight... or, should we say, love at first sip.
Although most of these delicacies can be found throughout the whole year, the Christmas season is without a doubt the perfect excuse to indulge yourself, especially when you know how glorious it all tastes. Tortas de Pascua and Tortas de Recao are made in a similar manner primarily using a base of egg, flour and star anise. The Pascua variety has a surprising orange flavour, while the Recao variety comes with a hole in the centre ready to fill with honey. How do you fancy buying one of each and trying to guess all 7 different flavours? Cordiales are desserts for every taste: stuffed with sweet pumpkin filling in Murcia, with sweet potato cake or with yam in the Cartagena countryside, yet with nothing extra added in the Andean mountain ranges (here they are called cristóbalas), they are made from eggs and almonds. Forget the calories and enjoy! Moratalla's marzipan is a bar filled with egg yolk that will delight even the sweetest tooth. Cut it into slices and let the yellowish sweet treat take over your palate. Alfajores from Murcia have little or no reason to envy the Argentinian version: distributed between wafers you will find dough made from rosemary honey, almonds and hazelnuts among other ingredients.