Cantabria, Sea and Mountains
The Region of Cantabria is very rich in history,
art and natural areas: the sea, valleys with mild and warm micro-climates,
fertile pastures... the varied cuisine cleverly combines the products from the
sea with those from the pastures and market gardens.
The high quality of Cantabrian milk goes
without saying and therefore it is not surprising that milk derivatives are
plentiful throughout the region. It is known that the inhabitants of this
Autonomous Region were eating butter 2,000 years ago, when the Romans, the
civilised people of those times, only used it as protection from the sun. For
the Cantabrians, cheese is almost a religion.
Strong-tasting cheeses which are cured with
great care. Queso de nata (cream cheese) which can be found throughout the
region, picón from Treviso Bejes, smoked cheeses, such as those from Áliva or
Pido, and the small quesucos, which are made from a mixture of cow's and sheep's
Fish from the Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay supplies the Cantabria with
some of its typical ingredients: fish and shellfish, which are of outstandingly
good quality. The cold waters of the Bay of Biscay offer barnacles, spider crabs,
small crabs, clams, meaty lobsters and very delicate crayfish and king prawns;
the squid caught off the Bay of Biscay shore are delectable.
Sea bass, hake, scorpion fish, young sardines..
bonito which is used to prepare one of the most typical dishes of the region: "sorropotún"
or "marmita", a fish stew similar to the Basque "marmitako", but with a
character all of its own. Sardines are a typical dish served at fishing harbours
and are normally baked and served on a simple wooden table. Some of the most
famous Cantabrian stews also use ingredients from the sea: hake in green sauce,
squid in ink with onions and clam stew.
The importance of cattle
Bovine meat is very popular in Cantabria. One
of the most popular is the lean and juicy Tudanca beef and the most important
Spanish Cattle Trade Fair is held in this region: the National Trade Fair of
Cattle from Torrelavega.
There are more types of meat. The quality of
Cantabrian game is well represented by the venison, roe deer and wild boar. Pork,
always present on mainland Spain, is the main ingredient of one of the most
typical dishes of the region, the Cantabrian style stew, which also contains
haricot beans, cabbage, and rice and blood sausage (morcilla)
It is unthinkable to finish a meal in Cantabria
without enjoying a dessert. The typical Cantabrian has a very sweet tooth and
wherever the traveller stops to eat, he will be able to try one of the
traditional cheesecakes of the Pas Valley.
typical product is pastry, and for which each area has its own name: "corbatas"
in San Vicente de la Barquera; "polkas" in Torrelavega; o "sacristanes" in
Liérganes. And, although they may not be originally from this area, due to the
top quality of Cantabrian milk such desserts as custard, rice pudding and deep
fried custard slices have become very popular.
Wines and Drinks in Cantabria
To date, the vineyard is not very important to
the Cantabrian community. Only Lebaniega conserves a few small vineyards and
these are gradually becoming smaller.
The most traditional drink of the region is
"orujo", a strong liquor which is prepared using old traditional methods,
distilling it drop by drop. Those in the know say that "orujo" is an excellent
remedy for indigestion.
- Pollo Campurriano: A dish from
farming country inland from Santander. Well-powdered with paprika, the
chicken is fried, then cooked with ham and peppers, and served with rice.