The Ricote Valley is also known as the Moorish Valley, as many Muslims remained there, flouting the order of the Catholic Monarchs for their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula after having remained there for eight centuries.
The heritage of Muslim civilization remains in the valley, in the layout of its narrow streets and in the archaeological remains found in castles, barns, waterwheels, ditches, farmhouses and necropolises. In such a way, Muslim traditions and customs have been fused over the centuries with those of the Christians, giving rise to a peculiar symbiosis that can be recognized in the inhabitants of the valley.
The Valle del Ricote region is made up of five municipalities: Villanueva del Rio Segura
The latter town is famous for having the best quality apricot crops in the entire Murcia region.
It has a land area of 258 square kilometres, and each of its municipalities has places for recreation that give the region great tourist interest.
Likewise, it is a region known for its agriculture and the sale of crops, as it has fertile lands and is recognized for the ability of its inhabitants to work, valuing the historical and cultural past of the area.
Example of ingenuity!
The Ricote Valley is located in the north of the region of Murcia. Its fertile lands adjacent to the Segura river have benefited from those waters since ancient times, so the main economic activity of the valley is based on agriculture.
Because the Segura river does not offer a permanent and stable flow of water, the Muslims, in their time, installed a complex hydraulic system for its efficient use, damming the water to dispose of it without interruption and use it when required.
The water was taken to the cultivated areas to guarantee regular agricultural production. They guaranteed the irrigation of the highest areas to incorporate a higher level of production into these lands. This and other experiences have been wisely used and today bear fruit. In the five municipalities that make up the Valle de Ricote region, there are good examples of this.
In the Ricote Valley, a varied cuisine has been developed over time, with multiple flavours and a wide range of recipes that make the gastronomy of this region a delicacy combined with the majestic nature of its landscapes.
Vegetables and legumes play a special role in the cuisine of the Ricote Valley.
It could not be otherwise due to the successful fertility and production of the lands of this rich valley.
Dishes such as bean stew, the different preparations of rice and chickpeas and the “lizones” salads are very attractive and offer a unique flavour.
In the different pot stews, local meats, combined with the excellent vegetables and legumes produced, are masterfully harmonized, giving the dishes an attractive Mediterranean flavour. Also of note are the particular ways of preparing “gachasmigas”, wheat flour with chunks, pork with beans and thistle leaves and “empedrado” rice, among many other delicious dishes based on local production.
There are also typical recipes for the preparation of roast lamb, but the dishes that have rice as their centre, such as “paellas” and rice with beans, are especially exquisite. Also, you cannot forget the dishes of the Archena municipality, where the preparation of rabbit with vegetables in different forms stands out.
In relation to the preparation of desserts, the drunken biscuits of Ojos stand out, as do the “condenaos” and the so-called “picardías”. In the Archena municipality, the confectionery is carried out by the “cuernos” based on meringue and puff pastry, the cream pitisú and the “negritos”, made with meringue and chocolate. On Easter, it is customary to make “monas”.
There is also a high production of fruit, skilfully exploited. Apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, oranges and tangerines stand out, among others. The apricot, for example, is one of the most consumed and abundant products in the area, which is why delicious homemade apricot and peach jams are prepared.